Ever wondered how you can keep your skin looking young without regular visits to Mr Botox? Anti-aging solutions are in high demand, and natural ways of looking young are being overlooked in favour of cosmetic surgery and enhancements. Whatever happened to true beauty coming from within?
Leading Sydney naturopath Victoria O'Sullivan says, 'Cosmetically enhancing those disliked physical signs of aging ignores the underlying causes of aging and won't fix the actual problem. To combat ageing you need to address what you're putting into your body and fight the process from the inside out."
Current research shows that there is strong connection between aging and inflammation in the body, which manifests in the appearance as a loss of muscle mass and wrinkled, sagging skin. Inflammation is the body's normal response to injury and is necessary for healing. Symptoms include pain, redness, heat, swelling, and loss of mobility. This type of inflammation is referred to as acute, and is a normal response. But there is a second type – chronic inflammation which is a reaction in the body without an immediate injury to repair.
Chronic inflammation results from both genetic and lifestyle factors. While we can't control our genetic disposition, we can control our lifestyle. The biggest factors contributing to chronic inflammation are excessive weight, poor food choices, cigarette smoking, UV radiation, stress, and environmental toxins such as pesticides.
'Aging starts well before we see the physical manifestations and experience symptoms. The good news is that if eat well and reduce environmental toxins and stress, we can address ageing's physical signs. Make good food and a positive environment your top priorities and you'll be rewarded with radiant skin," says Victoria.
Victoria's top tips to combat chronic inflammation and slow down the physical signs of aging:
Reduce your intake of pro-inflammatory foods: All forms of sugar and most starchy foods are pro-inflammatory. So steer clear of sweets, pastries, biscuits, milky chocolates, chips, breads and snack foods, including rice and corn cakes. When we eat sugary or starchy foods, we trigger a pro-inflammatory release of sugar into our bloodstream, which causes our body to store fat. Eating sugary foods also triggers a spike in insulin levels, which in turn increases our appetite setting up a vicious cycle of overeating. Elevated levels of insulin can lead to accelerated aging of the skin as well as vital organs.
Up your intake of blueberries, garlic, spices and leafy greens. Antioxidants are anti-inflammatory. Berries of all types, but particularly blueberries are delicious antioxidant super food. Spices such as cinnamon and turmeric are also super foods, as with garlic, onions and horseradish. These foods contain high concentrations of cancer-fighting phytochemicals. Lower amounts are also found in whole grains, other vegetables and beans. Dark leafy greens are another important antioxidant source, and they are also high in folate which assists cell-regeneration an important factor in fresh looking skin. By replacing pro-inflammatory processed, starchy and sugary foods with foods high in antioxidants we work to neutralise inflammation in the body and slow down the ageing process.
Add more leafy greens in your diet. Another secret for glowing skin is to eat foods with a high alkaline content, such as avocados, leafy greens, soya beans, radish and broccoli. These foods work to help regulate the pH of our blood cells whose ideal state is an alkaline level of 7.3 or 7.4. When we eat too much acid the body is forced to draw on its alkaline stores to balance the surplus acid. The acid then creates nasty things like yeast, harmful microforms, mycotoxins and bacteria. The body is then forced to remove these highly pro-inflammatory toxins through the skin.
Control your cortisol levels. In today's lifestyle stress can be almost a daily occurrence for some. When we feel stressed our nervous system is affected and we can have trouble sleeping. Both stress and lack of sleep raise the hormone cortisol in our bodies, which regulates the anti-inflammatory response. Over time in periods of high stress and little sleep our body becomes less sensitive to cortisol and inflammation takes over. Try and get eight hours of undisturbed sleep each night and take up activities that reduce stress. Pets work wonders for highly stressed people.
Control your weight. People carrying excess weight are in a permanent state of inflammation. Research shows that fat isn't just the storage of excess energy that body has not used. Instead when not maintained at an ideal level, fat functions like an endocrine organ releasing hormones into the system prompting an inflammatory response. Excess weight also reduces the body's ability to cope with inflammatory foods. The only answer is weight loss to reduce the body's pro-inflammatory activity and allow it to more readily to regulate the effects of pro-inflammatory foods.
For more information, visit www.victoriaosullivan.com.au