Thursday, October 27, 2011

Skin: A Unique Organ

The skin is the largest of the body’s organs. It functions as a key sensing organ, an oil producer, a detox organ, a temperature regulator, and a protective covering. The skin has to do battle constantly to stay strong and fight the damaging forces that surround it. As the barrier between the body and the environment, it is subjected to a lot of abuse, including:
1.      1. Ultraviolet rays from the sun (probably the most damaging factor the skin encounters each day)
2.      2.  Tanning and other sun exposure damage
3.    3. Cleaning-product chemicals, both on clothing and in the air, which interact with the skin, drying it out and causing injury and possible allergic reactions 

Your skin reflects your internal health. A healthy person has glowing. Radiant, smooth skin. Inflammation, scaling, or puffiness indicates that the body is having health problems. Many skin conditions that leave us with undesirable complexions can be alleviated with a proper diet. 

What Does Food Have to Do with It? 
The body is made up of more than 100 billion cells, each of which is made up of fats and proteins. Carbohydrates offer these cells energy. These three components are necessary to support your body’s basic health.
However, these nutrients alone do not make your body and skin healthy. Your body also needs vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients to perform optimally and look radiant. These nutrients help the skin repair damage, build support structures, stay moist, and prevent disease. For example, collagen is the skin’s main structural component, and the body cannot make it without vitamin C. If you do not eat foods rich in vitamin C, such as oranges, lemons, and strawberries, your skin can lose its tight structure and begin to loosen, sag, and wrinkle. 

Nutrients to the Rescue 
There are many nutrients that the skin needs to function properly and to look radiant. See below list of  the most important nutrients for the skin and describtions of their roles in promoting skin health. Note that because hair follicles live in the skin, your hair’s health is related to your skin’s health. For that reason, keeping your skin healthy can help your hair regain that smooth, shiny, soft appearance it had when you were a child. 

Nutrients That Support Skin Health
Vitamin A - Fat-soluble vitamin that plays a role in preventing acne, blemishes, and dry skin; May help prevent skin cancer; Deficiency causes dry, scaly skin and an increased likelihood of infection
Vitamin B complex - Consists of all eight water-soluble B vitamins; Essential for the breakdown of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins; Involved in energy production; Deficiency can result in skin conditions such as acne and dermatitis
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) - Improves oxygen usage by skin cells; Deficiency can result in inflammation
Vitamin B3 (niacin) - Ensures that the skin receives proper blood circulation
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) - Required for cell division and protein synthesis
Biotin - Required for skin cells to rapidly divide and grow
Vitamin B12 - Used in the treatment of dermatitis
Vitamin C - Water-soluble vitamin that can prevent skin damage and reduce the aging effects of cigarette smoke and sun damage; Required for collagen formation
Calcium - Deficiency associated with eczema and brittle nails
Copper - stimulates collagen and elastin formation
Vitamin E - May help with wound healing
Essential Fatty Acids - Include omega-3 and omega-6 fats; Act as a lubricant, moisturizer, and anti-inflammatory; Reduce the severity of sun damage
Iron - Promotes oxygenation of blood, a healthy immune system, and energy production
Methionine - Plays a role in protein building, cell division, and skin repair
Potassium - Deficiency results in dry skin
Selenium - Preserves elasticity of tissue; Deficiency may lead to premature aging
Silicon/Silica - Promotes tissue firmness; Strengthens hair, skin, and nails; Maintains skin elasticity
Zinc - Helps heal wounds; Needed for cell repair and for production of DNA, RNA (protein blueprints), and enzymes

Saturday, October 15, 2011

DIY Kiwi + Strawberry AHA masque!

A moisturizing skin nourishing face mask may be one of the greatest skin care indulgences available. Unfortunately they are often expensive and full of synthetic perfumes and harsh chemicals. The next time you want to pamperyourself with a skin-rejuvenating facial, forget the beauty aisle at your local grocery store, and head to the produce section. Making your own kiwi facial is fun and easy and less expensive than anything you can buy in a bottle.

Let's get started:

1. Peel one kiwi and place it in the blender or food processor. The seeds of kiwi fruit will help to gently exfoliate the skin, leaving your face smooth and soft. Kiwi, like strawberry, is also full of alpha-hydroxy acid, which can help reduce oil, prevent blackheads and balance your complexion..

2. Place five large strawberries in a blender or small food processor. Strawberries are rich in alpha-hydroxy acid, which gently cleans the skin, reduces acne and eliminates an only shine. Strawberries can also help to eliminate dark circles from under the eyes.

  • 3. Add one half of a peeled cucumber to the food processor or blender. You may want to save two thin slices of cucumber to place over your eyes during your facial, as cucumbers can help to reduce circles under the eyes. Cucumbers contain the same pH as yourskin, so they can clean, nourish and hydrate your skin without stripping it of its natural protective acid layers.

  • 4. Blend the ingredients well and begin to add 1 tsp. of sea kelp at a time until the kiwi face mask reaches a creamy paste-like consistency. Kelp is a natural "vegetable" of the sea and protects and restores damaged skin cells. Kelp is a gentle moisturizer that also reduces sebum production, meaning it will prevent acne and both prevent and reduce wrinkles.

  • 5. Wash yourface with warm water and pat dry. Apply the kiwi face mask to your neck and face with gentle massaging motion to exfoliate your skin. Allow the facial to set for five to 10 minutes before rinsing with cool water and patting dry.

  • How are you feeling now?

    Thursday, October 13, 2011

    Why we age?

    The study of aging - gerontology - is a relatively new science that has made incredible progress over the last 30 years. In the past, scientists looked for a single theory that explained aging. There are two main groups of aging theories. The first group states that aging is natural and programmed into the body, while the second group of aging theories say that aging is a result of damage which is accumulated over time. In the end, aging is a complex interaction of genetics, chemistry, physiology and behavior. 

    Theories of Aging

    By understanding and describing how we age, researchers have developed several different theories of aging. The two categories are: programmed theories and error theories.
    • Programmed Theories assert that the human body is designed to age and there is a certain biological timeline that our bodies follow.
      • Programmed Longevity: Aging is caused by certain genes switching on and off over time.
      • Endocrine Theory: Changes in hormones control aging.
      • Immunological Theory: The immune system is programmed to decline over time, leaving people more susceptible to diseases.
    • Error Theories assert that aging is caused by environmental damage to our body's systems, which accumulates over time.
      • Wear and Tear: Cells and tissues simply wear out.
      • Rates of Living: The faster an organism uses oxygen, the shorter it lives.
      • Cross-Linking: Cross-linked proteins accumulate and slow down body processes.
      • Free Radicals: Free radicals cause damage to cells that eventually impairs function.
      • Somatic DNA Damage: Genetic mutations cause cells to malfunction.

    Genetics and Aging

    Studies have demonstrated that genetics can play a major role in aging. When researchers adjust the genes in certain mice, yeast cells and other organisms, they can almost double the lifespan of these creatures. The meaning of these experiments for people is not known, but researchers think that genetics account for up to 35 percent of the variation in aging among people. Some key concepts in genetics and aging include:
    • Longevity Genes: There are specific genes which help a person live longer.
    • Cell Senescence: The process by which cells deteriorate over time.
    • Telomeres: Structures on the end of DNA that eventually are depleted, resulting in cells ceasing to replicate.
    • Stem Cells: These cells can become any type of cell in the body and hold promise to repair damage caused by aging.


    No matter what genes you have inherited, your body is continually undergoing complex biochemical reactions. Some of these reactions cause damage and, ultimately, aging in the body. Studying these complex reactions is helping researchers understand how the body changes as it ages. Important concepts in the biochemistry of aging include:
    • Free Radicals: Unstable oxygen molecules which can damage cells.
    • Protein Cross-Linking: Excess sugars in the blood stream can cause protein molecules to literally stick together.
    • DNA Repair: For an unknown reasons, the systems in the body to repair DNA seem to become less effective in older people.
    • Heat Shock Proteins: These proteins help cells survive stress and are present in fewer numbers in older people.
    • Hormones: The body's hormones change as we age, causing many shifts in organ systems and other functions.

    Body Systems

    As we age, our body's organs and other systems make changes. These changes alter our susceptibility to various diseases. Researchers are just beginning to understand the processes that cause changes over time in our body systems. Understanding these processes is important because many of the effects of aging are first noticed in our body systems. Here is a brief overview of how some body systems age:
    • Heart Aging: The heart muscle thickens with age as a response to the thickening of the arteries. This thicker heart has a lower maximum pumping rate.
    • Immune System Aging: T cells take longer to replenish in older people and their ability to function declines.
    • Arteries and Aging: Arteries usually to stiffen with age, making it more difficult for the heart to pump blood through them.
    • Lung Aging: The maximum capacity of the lungs may decrease as much as 40 percent between ages 20 and 70.
    • Brain Aging: As the brain ages, some of the connections between neurons seem to be reduced or less efficient. This is not yet well understood.
    • Kidney Aging: The kidneys become less efficient at cleaning waste from the body.
    • Bladder Aging: The total capacity of the bladder declines and tissues may atrophy, causing incontinence.
    • Body Fat and Aging: Body fat increases until middle age and then weight typically begins to decrease. The body fat also moves deeper in the body as we age.
    • Muscle Aging: Muscle tone declines about 22 percent by age 70, though exercise can slow this decline.
    • Bone Aging: Starting at age 35, our bones begin to lose density. Walking, running and resistance training can slow this process.
    • Sight and Aging: Starting in the 40s, difficulty seeing close detail may begin.
    • Hearing and Aging: As people age, the ability to hear high frequencies declines.

    Behavioral Factors

    The good news is that many of these causes of aging can be modified through your behaviors:
    • By eating foods loaded with antioxidants, you can minimize damage caused by free radicals.
    • By exercising, you can limit bone and muscle loss.
    • By keeping your cholesterol low, you can slow the hardening of your arteries and protect your heart.
    • By practicing mental fitness, you can keep your brain sharp.
    Lifestyle factors have also been shown to extend life. Rats and mice on a calorie restricted diet (30 percent fewer daily calories) live up to 40 percent longer. Positive thinking has also been shown to extend life in people by up to 7.5 years.
    Aging Under the Microscope; National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Aging.