Aging with grace calls for new approaches.

JUST as we change through the decades, our skin care regimen needs to change too. At each life stage, our nutritional needs shift. Getting the right nutritional balance can help us to glow from the inside out. By enhancing our overall health through proper nutrition, we also maintain beautiful skin, which is an outward expression of our overall health.

Here are some ways we can rethink and refresh our skin care routine to age gracefully and naturally from our twenties to our fifties and beyond.

The twenties are a big change

This is the decade of leaving home, getting an education and first jobs and, for some, new families. This jump to adulthood can break the bank and the lingering effects of limited cash, new stresses, and fluctuating hormones can leave our skin lacking luster. Refresh your skin care routine with simple tips and tricks that will not only save money but lay the foundations for good, long-term skin care habits. The most common skin complaint in our twenties is acne. This is often caused by the use of dehydrating skin care products and harsh cleansers that strip our skin of their natural oils. As a result our oil glands go into overdrive to compensate, leading to pimples and breakouts.

Opt instead for a gentle, natural cleanser. Unpasteurized honey is packed full of nutrients and natural antibacterial enzymes that gently clean away dirt and bacteria for fresh, radiant skin.

Another key acne prevention tip is to reduce inflammation in the skin through Omega-3 fatty acids. Particularly, the long-chain versions (EPA and DHA) found in fish oil have extensive cosmetic benefits. These anti-inflammatory fats can reduce redness by “calming” blood vessels in the skin, while supporting and enhancing our natural oils to keep skin moisturized, full and shimmering.

Protecting our youthful skin with diligence from the damaging effects of the sun’s UVA and UVB rays is a must. Make sure to apply a mineral-based sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30 before heading out into the sun and re-apply at regular intervals for proper protection.

Transitioning into your thirties

Throughout this jump into adulthood, the transition from our twenties to our thirties can bring some big changes to our life and in our body. Whether it is starting a family and trying to keep up with the non-stop pace of little ones or finding your stride at work the stress of the thirties can show on your skin.

It’s in this decade that our skin can start to thin and lose collagen. Many nourishing skin serums contain vitamin C as an antidote to collagen breakdown. Ensure your diet is rich in foods high in vitamin C such as citrus fruits, dark leafy greens and bell peppers. You may also want to speak with your health care prac- titioner about adding a vitamin C supplement to your routine to maintain a youthful glow through this busy decade. If you’re looking for an added topical boost, visit your local health food store for a growing range of skin care products that can support healthy collagen formation, such as vitamin A enriched masks and vitamin C enhanced serums.

Embracing the big 4-O

By the time we reach our forties, the effects of our lifestyle can start to show on our skin. The forties are also a good time to familiarize yourself with free radicals. These pesky oxygen-based chemicals can wreak havoc on healthy cell components by chemically burning internal skin cell parts including structural proteins and DNA. Sun exposure and air pollution can be potent generators of oxidizing free radicals. The forties are a great age to pack your diet with nutrient-dense foods rich in antioxidants like vitamin C and E, which can mop-up free radical damage and help heal skin from the inside. Other antioxidants shown to benefit skin health include beta-carotene and selenium.

Consider including a greens supplement or powder packed with fibre, antioxidants and minerals to your diet. Add it to your morning smoothie to help your inside keep your outside beautiful.

Celebrate your fifties, gracefully

The fifties can be a challenging decade, particularly for women going through menopause. This is a major shift in the internal chemistry of female bodies, with a decrease in estrogen disrupting the normal function of our skin and leading to a loss of elasticity, a resurgence of acne, extreme dryness and rosacea.

Along with these changes, our aging skin’s ability to produce vitamin D begins to slow down. vitamin D is a nutrient essential for everything from strong bones to a strong immune system, and is produced naturally in our bodies by our skin when it is exposed to the sun. Supplementing with vitamin D is essential to make up for our skin’s reduced capacity to produce this vital nutrient.

Skin elasticity is a major concern as we age past our fifties. Recent research has shown that argan oil, a nourishing Moroccan oil, has potent effects for improving skin elasticity in post-menopausal women. Interestingly, both consumption and topical application of argan oil can lead to increased skin elasticity. It has also been shown to reduce the occurrence of darkly pigmented age spots.

By this point skin cell growth has slowed down so it’s important to incorporate yellow and orange veggies rich in beta-carotene to support the growth of new skin cells.

Getting older is inevitable

Enhancing the health and appearance of our skin through foods and nutrients is crucial to overall health and can be a part of embracing the passage of time and the impact it has on our outward appearance. Supporting your body’s changing nutritional needs with healthy foods, natural health products, supplements and topical skin products can help you enter each decade with a fresh face. Z

More Inspiration: Check out this great article on caring for your collagen, which makes up a lot of our skin!

Author: Michelle W. Book is a Holistic Nutritionist and CHFA Director of Communications. The Canadian Health Food Association (CHFA) is Canada’s largest trade association dedicated to natural health and organic products. She is a regular contributor to Optimyz Magazine.

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