Aging is a process that involves both intrinsic and extrinsic influences. Intrinsic aging is determined by genetic makeup. This is not really controllable, which is why we age similarly to our parents, to some degree. Extrinsic aging, which accounts for nearly 90% of aging, is determined by environmental factors that you can control. It is so empowering to know that you have 90% control over how your skin looks and ages just by making the right lifestyle choices. We know that when someone’s skin is healthy, their confidence and personal interactions are improved. This resulting confidence plays an important role in achieving success in so many areas of life.

Now, anything you put in your mouth acts as a medicine so think of your food as medicine. Food should be chosen for maximum nutritional potency. This means that eating real food, preferably organic, that you prepare yourself will always be the best choice. Anything packaged or in a wrapper is going to have chemicals and preservatives and artificial colors and flavors that affect all of your organs, including your skin in a very negative way.

Proper Sun Protection

Ultraviolet exposure is the #1 cause of skin aging. Ultraviolet rays will damage the collagen permanently, cause skin discoloration, and cause broken blood vessels (by damaging the collagen in the blood vessel walls). Before leaving the house every morning, apply spf30+ sunscreen with zinc oxide to your face, neck, chest, and back of hands. Most of the chronic sun damage is from incidental UV coming in from windows while driving or walking to and from the car and house. This can add up to hundreds of hours per year. If you plan on spending significant time outside, schedule these activities early or late in the day, seek shade, wear a wide-brimmed hat and protective clothing, and consider taking a natural supplement.

Sugar Destroys Your Skin

Sugar has zero nutritional value – it ruins both your figure and your skin. Sugar is highly addictive, affecting the brain like heroin, and it doesn’t contribute to satiety so overeating is inevitable. Your skin represents your internal health, and the effects of sugar on both can be horrifying.

When excess sugar circulates in the bloodstream, it attaches to proteins in a process called glycation, producing AGE’s (Advanced Glycation End Products). These AGEs bind to protein molecules in the collagen structures of the skin (and other organs), leading to skin rigidity, sagging, sallow appearance, and coarse wrinkles. Furthermore, AGEs deactivate your body’s natural antioxidants, leaving you more vulnerable to sun damage and environmental toxins. Sugar also plays a role in causing brown spots on the skin in the presence of sunlight (think of toast: carbs + heat = brown). Your body considers all carbs from grains as sugar since it is quickly and efficiently broken down internally from carbohydrate into sugar.

Youthful skin is more resilient, but the damage accumulates and starts to show it’s aging effect in your 30’s. If you are young and not worried about aging yet, be aware that sugar and high-glycemic foods cause total body inflammation. In the skin, this presents as rashes, rosacea, and acne breakouts. A 12-week randomized controlled trial looking at 23 males between the ages of 15 and 25 who adhered to a strict low glycemic diet had significant improvement in their acne. Another study looked at 32 Korean adults, 20-27 years old, who ate a low-glycemic diet for 10 weeks. Skin biopsies revealed that both the size of the oil glands and amount of inflammatory cells were reduced.

Exercise is an amazing way to detox

Exercise enhances blood flow to the skin, bringing vital oxygen and nutrients to feed the skin. Exercise also helps keep blood sugar levels at a healthy level to AGE formation and permanent changes to collagen structure. The process of sweating also removes heavy metals, pesticides, and other toxins through the skin. Try to add exercise into your day everyday.

Omega-3 fatty acids provide the right moisture for your skin

Ultraviolet light triggers inflammation in the skin, and the body uses messengers it makes from omega-3s to minimize inflammation. The omega-3 fatty acids in salmon and other fatty, wild-caught fish help the epidermis hold moisture for smoother, softer skin. Hydrated skin appears more radiant and youthful and healthy fats will help balance natural oils in the skin.

In contrast, the excessive intake of omega-6 fatty acids that typifies the standard American diet speeds aging of the skin by promoting inflammation. Most of those omega-6 fats come from the cheap vegetable oils used in packaged, fried, restaurant, and fast foods, as well as in many home kitchens (corn, soy, cottonseed, safflower, and sunflower).

A 2013 study showed that taking fish oils daily boosted the immunity of volunteers’ skin to the damaging effects of sunlight. Sun protection from omega-3s is more likely to be effective when your intake of omega-6 vegetable fats is no more than two to three times your omega-3 intake.

While fish oil is the best source of omega-3 fatty acids, flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and algae, are other great options.

Colorful fruits and veggies diminish skin damage

Your skin is constantly undermined by free radicals generated by exposure to sunlight, air pollutants, and chemicals. These unstable oxygen molecules damage skin cells and stimulate inflammation, which generates even more free radicals and promotes premature aging of the skin.

And your body’s ability to produce its own antioxidants – which neutralize free radicals – can diminish with age. Luckily, you can boost your body’s “antioxidant capacity” through a healthy diet full of vibrant, colorful fruits and vegetables. Red, yellow, and orange produce contains anthocyanins and carotenoids (including lycopene), which are both antioxidants and pigments. Anthocyanins are the big contributors to those vivid blue and black colors in produce. Studies link this group of antioxidants to a reduction in oxidative stress, which supports healthy aging.

These colorful substances also accumulate in the skin to impart a healthy glow while also protecting from environmental toxins.

In one double-blind study, 20 young women took 30 mg daily of beta-carotene or placebo for 10 weeks before a 13-day stretch of controlled sun exposure. The women who’d taken beta-carotene before and during the sun exposure experienced less skin redness than those taking placebo, even when both groups used sunscreen.

Two additional studies found that taking mixed carotenoids for 12 to 24 weeks raised the study participants’ natural spf of their skin.

Dark Chocolate is your skin’s friend

Cocoa contains antioxidants called flavanols.

A 2006 German study found that women who drank raw cocoa for 12 weeks displayed significant reductions in scaling and roughness of their skin, plus substantial increases in skin blood flow, skin density, and hydration, which can yield better-looking skin.

And dermatologists in the UK studied the effects of high-flavanol chocolate as a sun protector. One group ate 20 grams of a high-flavanol chocolate daily for three months, while the other volunteers consumed the same amount of a low-flavanol chocolate. After 12 weeks, the high-flavanol-chocolate group had more than double the UV protection, compared with the people in the low-flavanol-chocolate group, who showed no significant difference.

So, if you want to give yourself a treat, choose 80% or higher cacao. Processed milk chocolate doesn’t count!

Bottom Line:

1. Most of your carbohydrates should come from vegetables and real foods. Avoid packaged and processed foods as these quickly convert to sugar. Especially avoid high fructose corn syrup, which produces more AGEs than other types and has been linked to fatty liver.

2. Include more antioxidants in your diet – antioxidants have a protective effect against the formation of AGEs by preventing sugar from attaching to proteins. Colorful vegetables, berries, nuts, and green tea are essential.

3. Seek a diet rich in healthy sources of proteins and fats (avocado, wild, cold water fish, and nuts).

4. Exercise – regular exercise uses up excess sugar in the bloodstream as fuel making it unavailable to produce AGEs. Keep moving!

5. Wear SPF 30+ sunscreen with zinc oxide every day

6. Avoiding alcohol is essential as alcohol will dehydrate your skin and deplete the body of all water-soluble vitamins.

7. Smoking and second-hand smoke should be completely avoided as smoking causes irreversible DNA damage and decreases blood flow to all cells, including the skin.

8. Start your day with Kyani Sunrise, finish your day with Kyani Sunset and use the Fleuresse skin care line to protect, nourish and repair your skin from the outside in.

Everyday, we wake up and make many decisions. Studies show that when you make a lot of decisions, willpower weakens by the end of the day. Instead of having to use willpower, make these behaviors an unconscious habit. Choices that are good for your skin are also good for the rest of your body so feeling healthier overall is a beneficial result. Whether it is prevention, maintenance, or reversal of extrinsic damage, the power is in your hands. It is never too early or too late to start.

Skincare and supplements will have a beneficial synergistic effect but will not compensate fully for poor lifestyle choices. All or nothing is not the right mindset – making small choices in the right direction will always have a positive effect. Be kind to yourself and your body will reap the rewards.

The antioxidants mentioned above also “help reduce inflammation and enhance wound healing,” explains Jennifer T. Haley, MD, a dermatologist practicing in Scottsdale, AZ and Park City, UT. “It also has anti-fungal and antibacterial properties.

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