Many environmental factors can contribute to wrinkles and skin ageing. These can all be controlled to a certain extent, to maintain a more youthful skin profile. The main influencing environmental factors include; oxidative stress (mainly by sun damage), inflammation, ischaemia (reduced blood flow), smoking, pollution, sleep deprivation and poor nutrition.
- Antioxidants and carotenoids are present in the foods we eat, and have been shown to reduce the effects of sun damage on the skin.
- Carotenoids are derivatives of vitamin A, examples are β-carotene, astaxanthin, lycopene and retinol.
- Antioxidants have been shown to reduce skin redness after sunburn by 40%. High antioxidant foods include; citrus, and berries.
- Alcohol consumption reduces the presence of antioxidants in the skin, thus counteracting their protective effects.
- Carotenoids are available in a wide range of foods; β-Carotene is contained in carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, mangos and papaya; Astaxanthin is found in microalgae, yeast, salmon, trout, krill, shrimp, crayfish and crustacea; Good sources of lycopene are tomatoes (cooked is better) and other red fruits and vegetables, such as red carrots, watermelons and papayas; Retinol and its constituents must be consumed in the diet as they cannot be synthesised by the body. Retinol is present in foods such as; Fish oils and fatty fish, dairy, and liver.
- For vegans, nutritional constituents found in spinach, kale, squash and carrots can be readily converted into retinol by the body, but fats such as avocado or olive oils should be consumed at the same time to increase absorption.
- Prunes, apples and tea are particularly effective at reducing oxidative damage to the skin by sun exposure. Just a few months of increased green tea intake have been shown to reduce skin roughness by 16%. Eating a moderate amount of carotenoid rich foods can even cause a protective carotenoid build up in the skin, giving you a golden glow similar to tanning in the sun.
- Vitamin D3 can reduce the harmful effects of the sun on the skin. It decreases with age and we can lose up to 50% between the ages of 20 and 80, taking vitamin D3 supplements can be beneficial for skin health as we age.
- Polyphenols such as contained in green tea, turmeric, resveritrol in grape skins, sylimarin from milk thistle, coffee, legumes, cereals and chocolate. Can all help to modulate the action of cell signals involved with the ageing process. Reducing the action of these cellular pathways can help to decelerate the ageing process, particularly in the skin.
- Coenzyme Q10 or Ubiquinol is an important mediator of energy production in the body, it also decreases oxidative damage in the skin. Dietary sources of CoQ10 include oily fish (such as salmon, mackerel and tuna), organ meats (such as liver), and whole grains.
- Optimising the bacterial makeup in the gut can have positive effect on the bacterial make-up of the skin. Taking probiotics can help to positively adjust your bacterial makeup and reduce the chance of developing rashes and allergic reactions in the skin.
- Collagen is one of the main constituents of the skin and a destabilisation of the collagen structure can contribute to wrinkle formation, Vitamins C and E have been shown to increase collagen stability and protect from sun damage.
- Good sources of vitamin C are; citrus fruits, blackcurrant, rose hip, guava, chili and parsley. Vitamin E is present in most vegetables, seeds, corn and soy beans.
One of the keys to managing one’s weight, is controlling how much we eat. If your daily intake of calories is greater than your daily expenditure of calories through exercise and general movement, then any excess calories will be stored as fat.
Over eating can be difficult to control, but there are generally three overeating categories that people can fall into. Each category requires a slightly different strategy to overcome.
- Eating more than is necessary at mealtimes.
- Many people do not produce enough of a hormone in the stomach that indicates to the brain that it is full.
- A low Glycaemic Index diet can fill you up more quickly and encourages production of these hormones. Choose sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes, brown rice instead of white rice and brown wholemeal bread instead of white bread. Also try and reduce the consumption of carbohydrates such as pasta and heavily processed foods.
- Using smaller plates to control portion sizes is also advisable. Also waiting 20 minutes after eating before having seconds, will give your brain a chance to receive signals from the stomach indicating that you are full.
- Some people feel as if they are constantly hungry between mealtime,s leading to frequent snacking and consumption of excess food. For these people, the 5:2 calorie restricted diet has been found to be very successful.
- For 5 days a week, you can eat as much as you like, even between mealtimes, but preferably on healthy snack options such as; nuts, seeds, carrots or berries.
- For the other 2 days, you should eat a set number of calories throughout the day: 600kcal for men and 500kcal for women and stick to it.
- Many people find it is a lot easier to stick with a diet, when its only 2 days a week!
3. Stress eating.
- It is not uncommon to eat more when emotional, depressed, tired or stressed and to then gain weight as a result.
- If you are a ‘stress eater’, try and identify the triggers that turn your mind to food when you are stressed, and find ways to re-align those thought processes.
- It is often a good idea to find and implement an alternative stress-relieving activity when you think about indulging in food, such as meditation, exercising or having a hot bath.
High levels of ‘bad’ LDL and VLDL cholesterol in the blood can contribute to increased risk of many diseases including; diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular problems, liver disease, kidney disease, and cognitive decline.
Fibre and plant phytosterols are key to lowering cholesterol, as they prevent excess cholesterol from entering the body in the digestive tract. Adding fibre in the diet encourages the surplus cholesterol to more easily pass through into the colon, where it is excreted.
The highest dietary sources of phytosterols are nuts and seeds, particularly sesame and pistachio. Just one serving of brazil nuts per month, has been shown to provide long-term cholesterol lowering effects.
Amla powder (Indian gooseberry) and dried apples have also been found to be very effective at lowering ‘bad’ cholesterol in the blood, whilst at the same time increasing the levels of ‘good’ cholesterol (HDL).
Key foods to try and avoid if you are worried about your cholesterol are; eggs, meat, dairy and processed foods.
British Heart Foundation – BHF Cholesterol guide
Migraine headaches can be extremely debilitating for sufferers. However, there are various diet and lifestyle interventions that can limit or prevent attacks.
Magnesium – Many migraine sufferers are magnesium deficient and 600mg/day of magnesium supplementation (magnesium glycinate is the best source), can act as a prophylactic for attacks when taken over a period of 3-4 months.
Nuts, grains and seeds, as well as green leafy vegetables such as kale are particularly high in magnesium also.
Epsom Baths – Magnesium is best absorbed through the skin. We recommend taking Epsom salt baths or magnesium skin sprays may also be effective.
Treatment – Treatment for an acute migraine headache may be as simple as smelling the scent of lavender. The inhalation of lavender essential oil has been found to alleviate the symptoms in 75% of migraine attacks. This is significantly more effective than the majority of drugs available on the market today.
Muscle is one of the most metabolically active tissues in the body. In general, the more muscle you have, the higher your basal metabolic rate (i.e. how much energy your body burns each day when you are at rest).
Lifting weights or resistance exercise at the gym is one the most effective ways to boost metabolism as your muscle mass increases.
Brown Fat – Another highly metabolically active tissue in the body is brown fat. Brown fat increases your metabolism by causing thermogenesis (heat production) in response to cold or various foods. The more brown fat you have, the more of your daily energy is used for heat production.
Certain foods can stimulate the body to accumulate brown fat, these include spicy foods such as capsaicin or chilli, and arginine rich foods including; Soy (such as edamame), nuts, seeds and beans.
Exposure to cold can also increase brown fat production, so taking a cold shower, or going from a sauna into a cold swimming pool or the sea can also increase metabolism.
Raising your metabolism means a greater daily intake of calories is needed to support your body’s energetic needs. Any daily calorie deficit will be made up by the body through the utilisation of fat and glucose stores.
Sufferers of acid reflux often experience heartburn after eating. This may be due to a weakness in the ring of sphincter muscle that separates the oesophagus from the stomach. This sphincter muscle should relax to let food through but contract again to keep food in the stomach. It can also be due to a hiatal hernia between the stomach and oesophagus.
Cholecystokinin – Excessive consumption of egg yolks, alcohol and coffee, all increase production of the hormone cholecystokinin. This hormone over relaxes the sphincter muscle between the oesophagus and the stomach, allowing gastric juices to enter the oesophagus where they can cause irritation and damage.
Plant-based diets – Cholecystokinin is also increased by meat consumption. This explains why plant-based diets are good for preventing reflux, and those eating meat have been found to have twice as much reflux. Persistent reflux can increase the risk for cancer of the oesophagus.
Foods such as eggs, meat, spicy foods, tomatoes, vinegar, citrus, saturated fats, mint and bananas can increase the chance of reflux in some people.
Antioxidant-rich foods – People eating the most antioxidant-rich foods have half the odds of oesophageal cancer. Interestingly there is practically no reduction in risk among those people who used antioxidant vitamin supplements, such as vitamin C or E pills.
Protect the Oesophagus – The most protective foods for the oesophagus are red-orange vegetables, dark green leafy vegetables, berries, and apples.