How to Maintain Healthy Skin Naturally
This article is intended to provide you with (i) an basic understanding of skin physiology and key skin function, (ii) an appreciation of the importance of healthy skin for athletic performance, (iii) a list of foods that help improve skin health(iv) a list of list of foods that damage skin, (v) an appreciation of the important role good hydration plays in skin health, (vi) insight into how exercise, lifestyle and environment impact skin health, and (vii) information on moisturizers and healthy skin.
Our skin constantly transmits and receives information. If something is wrong the skin displays signs of external or internal stress. When all is well, the skin displays radiance.
Skin health is also psychologically important. "Attractiveness" studies suggest that appearance is important in obtaining social advantages that improve the quality of life. Furthermore, the psychologic impact of appearing older than one's chronologic age can be significant, especially with regard to self-perception and esteem.
As we will see, skin health is also important to athletic performance and exercise enhances skin health.
Basic Skin Physiology and Key Skin Functions
1. Epidermal. Of the 3 layers of skin - epidermal, dermal and subcutaneous - the epidermal, the outermost layer, is the thinnest. Though the epidermis has no blood vessels, it has many nerve endings and shows the world your genetics, lifestyle, environment and good/bad habits.
2. Dermal. The dermal layer lies just beneath the epidermis, has a large blood supply which gives you a look of Vigor and is the strong layer which holds your bones, body fluids and organs together.
3. Subcutaneous. The subcutaneous is a fatty layer that connects the skin to the underlying muscle tissue.
Skin Composition. The dermis is composed primarily of the proteins Collagen and Elastin. Collagen is found in all of our connective tissues, such as dermis, bones, tendons, and ligaments. Collagen contains about 25% of all the body's protein. Collagen is one of the main building blocks of human skin, providing much of the skin's strength. In some respects, Collagen is nature's re-bar, responsible for the strength and integrity of all of our connective tissues and organ structures, including skin. Elastin helps skin to return to its original position when it is poked or pinched.
Key Skin Functions all of which play an essential role in health and athletic performance:
1. Regulation of Body Temperature.In response to high environmental temperature or strenuous exercise, the evaporation of sweat from the skin surface helps lower an elevated body temperature to normal. For low environmental temperatures, production of sweat is decreased which helps conserve heat. Changes in the flow of blood to the skin also help regulate body temperature. An endurance athlete's efficiency in regulating body temperature through sweat is a key factor in athletic performance.
2. Protection. The skin covers the body and provides a physical barrier that protects underlying tissues from physical abrasion, bacterial invasion, dehydration, and ultraviolet (UV) radiation
3. Sensation. The skin contains abundant nerve endings and receptors that detect stimuli related to temperature, touch, pressure, and pain. The healthier the skin the better the body's ability to mesh Sensation with Kinesthetics Intelligence, refining athletic performance.
4. Excretion. In addition to dissipating heat and some water from the body, sweat also is the vehicle for excretion of toxins, salts and several organic compounds. This 'body cleansing' function also play an important role to athletic performance. The skin also absorbs moisture.
5. Immunity.Certain cells of the skin's epidermis are important components of the immune system
6. Blood Reservoir.The dermis of the skin has an extensive network of blood vessels that carry 8 to 10% of the total blood flow in a resting adult. In moderate exercise, skin blood flow may increase, which helps dissipate heat from the body and brings nutrients to the skin tissue. During hard exercise the skin blood vessels constrict so more blood is able to circulate to contracting muscles.
7. Synthesis of Vitamin D. The sun is the body's primary source of Vitamin D. Synthesis of vitamin D begins with the activation of molecules in the skin by ultraviolet rays in sunlight. Enzymes in the liver and kidneys then modify the molecule, finally producing calcitriol, the most active form of vitamin D. Calcitriol contributes to the homeostasis of body fluids by aiding absorption of calcium in foods. Calcium is important to build strong bones and rebuild muscles.
Foods to Help Build Healthy Skin Naturally
Collagen and Elastin are composed of Proteins made from amino acids glycine, valine, alanine, and proline. As Vitamin C plays an important role in Collagen development, foods rich in Vitamin C are important to skin health.
Protein contained in Meats are complete proteins that have all of the essential amino acids necessary for producing Collagen. Select meats like chicken, Lean Beef, turkey, fish, venison, and bison as major sources of protein.
Eggs are also good for inducing collagen production.
Dairy Products are full of protein and are extremely beneficial for promoting Collagen production in the body. Milk also is an excellent source of hydration!
Vegetable Sources of Protein also aid in the production of collagen. Pinto beans, kidney beans, black beans, navy beans, peanuts and chickpeas are all good choices.
Dark Green Vegetables are also excellent examples of foods containing collagen producing agents. Rich in Vitamin C, regular consumption of kale, spinach, collards, and asparagus helps to strengthen the body's ability to manufacture collagen and to utilize the protein effectively.
Fruits with a high content of vitamin C should be selected when adding collagen rich foods into the diet. Strawberries, oranges, grapefruits, kiwis, lemons, blackberries, black currants, blueberries, plums, elderberries, purple figs, purple grapes and papayas are all excellent fruit choices.
Gelatin is 98-99% protein by dry weight and is unusually high in glycine and proline.
Foods that Damage Skin
Processed or Refined Sugar. Eating too much processed or refined sugar causes wrinkles. Refined or processed sugar is found in soda pop, candy and white bread.
Caffeine. Coffee, tea and chocolate candy contain caffeine and all have dehyderating effects which can cause dry skin. Furthermore, Scientific data supports the position that caffeine reduces heat tolerance during exercise in a hot environment, via three physiological mechanisms. First, the diuretic effect of caffeine may exaggerate the declines that occur with plasma volume and stroke volume. Second, caffeine stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, and it may increase sweat rate. Third, caffeine increases resting metabolic rate in physically trained and sedentary individuals; this may increase heat storage and internal body temperature. These effects reduce heat tolerance (i.e., the exercise time to fatigue or exhaustion) by exacerbating dehydration and increasing body temperature. See How Caffeine Impacts Athletic Performance.
Good Hydration and Healthy Skin
Without sufficient hydration, the collagen and elastin in the dermis loose its ability to keep skin toned, supple and healthy. Poor hydration causes the skin to loose some ability to efficiently perform its basic key functions like temperature regulation and toxin excretion. Poor hydration can significantly effect the skins ability to keep the body from overheating during exercise compromising athletic performance, particularly for endurance athletes.
Exercise and Healthy Skin
Exercise plays an important role to maintaining skin health as exercise, particularly endurance sports like Runners, Cyclists and Swimmers, increase circulating of of blood to the dermal and subcutaneous layers of the skin. Exercise also helps keep fresh the body's ability to use the large blood reservoirs stored in the skin to be applied and used by the other vital organs and muscles during exercise.
Lifestyle and Healthy Skin
Rest. Regular good sleep, along with good hydration, is one of the most important needs of healthy skin and optimum athletic performance. During sleep, our skin tissue grows and is repaired. Going to bed fully hydrated helps the skin repair to maintain its optimum moisture content for the next day stress. For athletes, going to bed fully hydrated provides the skin the moisure it needs for the next day's sweating during training and competition. See Tips to Good Sleep Naturally.
Washing and Bathing. As our body is constantly eliminating toxic poisons through the pores of the skin. On average, our skin has 96 million pores and these must be kept clean to properly function. As a healthy skin has an acide base, it is best to use a pure castle soap or a bath soap with an acid base. An alkaline soap washes away the healthful acid base of the skin and can often cause the skin to dry and become irritated. Cool and Cold Water Baths and Swims is naturally cleansing and stimulating to the skin, has a strengthening effect on the nerves and encourages vigorous skin tone.
Sun Bathing. The direct rays of the sun on the naked body supply vitality and dynamic energy through the skin, and recharge the human storage battery with renewed strength, putting power and energy into our skin and nerves. From 7am until 11am and from 3pm until sundown are the best times of the day to be out in the sun.
Depression and Excess Stress. Stress and challenge can be very healthy and provide opportunity to improve and build confidence. However, psychological conditions such as depression and excess stress can cause or precipitate skin disease and otherwise cause the skin to be less effective in performing its key functions. Psychological therapies and stress management therapies can be valuable in preventing and treating skin desease. See Tips to Beat Depression Naturally.
Smoking. Cigarette smoking can alter a person's physical appearance in some dramatic ways. Cigarette smoking can accelerate the skin aging process causing premature and severe wrinkling and premature resorption of facial bones. Several studies link smoking with significant decreases in skin moisture which contribute to a dry wrinkled appearance. Medical professionals also believe smoking can cause a chronic reduced blood flow to the skin, which result in premature skin aging. Finally, the daily consumption of cigarettes correlates with the risk of developing psoriasis, with the higher number of cigarettes smoked (more than 20 cigarettes per day) being associated with greater risk. Evidence also suggests that cigarette smoking can impede healing.
Skin Cancer Prevention. The 4 major factors of lifestyle that continue to be causally related to certain cancers, including skin cancer—tobacco use, an unhealthy diet, inadequate exercise, and excessive exposure to ultraviolet radiation—are each independently important in their effects on the genetic and molecular processes that result in the malignant transformation of human cells.
Excess Weight. Because diet and physical activity have such a bearing on one's weight, the accumulation of excess body fat is one lifestyle-related factor that has become of major significance to healthy skin and the development of certain skin cancers.
Environmental Impact on Healthy Skin
Sun. Exposure to the sun should not be excessive. In Excessive exposure to sunlight, too much UV radiation is absorbed by skin molecules that can generate harmful compounds, called reactive oxygen species (ROS), which then cause "oxidative damage" to collagen. Excess sunlight also causes decreased collagen production.
Vitamin D production begins with ultraviolet radiationfrom the sun interacting with the skin. Avoidance of the sun's radiation (including through sunscreen) can potentially result in vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D insufficiency may lead to various health problems. By encouraging sun protection to prevent skin cancer, physicians may be limiting a major source of vitamin D for many individuals. Vitamin D is an important hormone with many physiologic roles beyond those related to bones, including blood pressure regulation and acting as a tumor suppressant. The recommended amount of vitamin D has recently increased for adults over age 50. Moreover, some researchers are urging higher doses for the entire population to prevent osteoporotic fractures. See Vitamin D Health Benefits, Vitamin D Synthesis, Natural Food Sources of Vitamin D, Deficiency and Photoprotection
Wind. Wind can have a very drying and therefore damaging impact on the skin.
Healthy Skin and Moisturizers
Moisturizers can be very beneficial for skin health. The key is finding the right moisturizer for your skin.
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Articles on Skin Care
Tobacco Use and Skin Disease
, Melody Straten, MD, Daniel Carrasco, MD, Southern Medical Journal
What Foods Contain Collagen?,Susan Elliot, eHow
Lifestyle Interventions in the Prevention and Treatment of Cancer,Clarence H. Brown III, MD; Said M. Baidas, MD; Julio J. Hajdenberg, MD; Omar R. Kayaleh, MD; Gregory K. Pennock, MD; Nikita C. Shah, MD; Jennifer E. Tseng, MD; American Journal Lifestyle Medicine
Caffeine, Fluid-Electrolyte Balance, Temperature Regulation, and Exercise-Heat Tolerance, Lawrence E. Armstrong; Douglas J. Casa; Carl M. Maresh; Matthew S. Ganio, Exercise and Sports Sciences Reviews