The skin is the largest organ in the body. As an outer covering, its function is to guard underlying muscles, bones, ligaments and internal organs.
The role of the skin to defend the body from pathogens (bacteria, etc.) is evident because it is in direct contact with the environment and all its elements. Thus, we must understand that it has an urgent mission—in immunity, prevention of water loss, insulation and temperature regulation, sensation and synthesis/absorption of vitamin D, among others.
Do you know that the skin is the habitat of 1,000 species of bacteria? Skin flora thrives on the skin surface, with specific types found between the toes and fingers, umbilical cord stump/belly button, and beside the nostril.
The skin needs special care simply because it is exposed and, therefore, more abused by the harsh environment. Skin defense is needed in the form of sun protection. But do you know that there is a difference between sunblock and sunscreen?
Sunblock: Opaque in appearance and stronger than sunscreen, it has the ability to offer more sun protection by blocking most ultraviolet A/B(UVA/UVB) rays and radiation from the sun. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be reapplied.
Sunscreen: Transparent in appearance, it can deflect UVA/UVB rays. Its ingredients can easily break down, thus allowing some of the radiation to penetrate the barrier. To be effective, sunscreen must be reapplied every three hours.
What are some skin vitamins?
Vitamin A—known as retinoids; reverses photo damage (good news for sunbathing addicts); decreases/prevents acne.
Vitamin C—the number one antioxidant that acts like a natural sunblock and regulates collagen synthesis.
Vitamin D—directly created by sunlight’s direct contact with the skin. Vitamin D is crucial to boosting the immune system.
Vitamin E—provides protection against sun damage.
Here are seven skin enemies, according to Nicholas Perricone in “Ageless Face, Ageless Mind”:
1) Poor diet: Stay away from foods that raise your blood sugar levels rapidly (or high-glycemic foods), as this creates an inflammatory effect on the skin. It causes wrinkles, loss of firmness, redness.
2) Sun exposure: Too much is bad. Never underestimate the damaging effects of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation. Ten years later, it could lead to skin cancer with chronic overexposure.
3) Stress: This accelerates aging. Stress releases cortisol. If chronically elevated, it becomes extremely toxic. Eventually the immune system is depressed.
4) Smoking and/or exposure to cigarette smoke: Tobacco smoke is a source of serious chemicals and heavy metals that can attack the immune system. Whether passive smoking or second-hand smoke, the damage is done. Smoking leads to deep wrinkles and skin sagging.
5) Alcohol: A major dehydrator of the skin, it causes small blood vessels to widen, which leads to a blushing effect and broken capillaries.
6) Not enough sleep: The body needs to repair itself, and bedtime is crucial to the regeneration of cells. Poor sleep = bad complexion. Good sleep = radiant complexion.
7) Lack of exercise: One of the best anti-aging regimens is exercise. It improves circulation, resulting in a better skin condition.
I might add dehydration. Test yourself. Drink 10-15 glasses of water daily. You will see how well your skin will respond. Drink less than eight glasses and the effect is dryness.
There are supplements that can reintroduce youthfulness to your skin.
Hyaluron (hyaluronic acid) nourishes and hydrates the skin,protects the skin from UVB rays.
Collagen is the protein in the body that gives skin its firmness and helps support skin structure.
Ubiquinol is a potent antioxidant capable of naturally regenerating other antioxidants such as vitamins A, C and E and supports anti-aging by protecting cells from free radical damage.
This week’s affirmation: “Happiness is my new best friend.”