With proper nutrition, adequate exercise and other lifestyle changes, you can improve the condition of your skin and your overall health.
Most people know about the benefits of drinking water for general health. Water also is also a crucial part of keeping your skin hydrated and healthy. If your skin is dry and dull, try increasing your intake of water as well as using a moisturizer regularly. If you exercise a lot or live in dry climate, you may need more than the recommended eight glasses of water per day. Limit your intake of caffeine and alcohol, which can leave you dehydrated.
Exercise is important to keep your body fit, but it's also great for your skin. Cardiovascular exercise keeps skin-loving nutrients circulating through your bloodstream. Sometimes moms think they don't have time to exercise, but it's important to make time. Exercising doesn't necessarily mean going to the gym. It can be about taking the stairs at work instead of the elevator, or walking on your lunch hour or after dinner with your family. Also get out there and play with your kids -- a game of soccer or even a simple game of tag can get your heart rate up and work muscles that you forgot you had.
What you eat is important too, of course. Try to eat a balanced diet of lean meat, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and good fats. Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are very important in maintaining your skin's health. They support skin structure and reduce inflammation. Most Americans get plenty of Omega-6 (found in processed food, red meat and eggs) but not enough Omega-3 (found in cold-water fish such as salmon, sardines and tuna, as well as flaxseed and nuts). Try to integrate foods rich in Omega-3 into your regular diet.
Your skin is the body's primary protector against toxins and germs. If your skin is healthy, then it's able to provide better protection -- so use caution when choosing skin care and hair care products. Detergents, petrochemicals, fragrances and other ingredients can clog pores, cause irritation and damage your skin. Look for cleansers, moisturizers, cosmetics and other skin care products that use natural and botanical ingredients rather than harsh chemicals.
Water crosses our cell membranes two ways: By diffusing through the lipid bilayer and via aquaporins, your skin's natural gateways that let water flow into millions of thirsty cells. Use a moisturizer morning and night to keep your skin hydrated and healthy. Pay special attention to the areas around your eyes and mouth -- where the skin is thinner, drier and wrinkles more easily. As you get older, your skin's needs change too. You will need a heavier moisturizer in your 40s than you did in your 20s.
The UV rays of the sun can cause premature aging, wrinkles, fine lines, age spots, discolorations and even skin cancer. Protect your skin with a sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher. If you are going to be in direct sunlight (such as when you are at the park or zoo with the kids) wear a hat and sunglasses to protect your scalp and eyes as well.
You might be thinking, "Yeah right!" but you really need to get more sleep. If you don't take care of yourself and get enough sleep, you won't be able to take care of your family. Your skin needs time to repair itself and that happens while you are asleep. Most adults need seven to eight hours a night, but the time varies tremendously from person to person. Test yourself a few nights in a row by sleeping until you wake up naturally -- then shoot for what you discover to be your optimum amount. Sufficient sleep also can help you avoid stress, which can cause breakouts, inflammation and other skin problems.
Are you still smoking? Studies show that the skin of cigarette smokers ages more than twice as fast as that of non-smokers. Smoking dehydrates your skin and depletes it of essential nutrients. Air pollution can cause similar problems, as well. Detoxify your skin by quitting smoking and limiting exposure to secondhand smoke and other pollutants.
Don't get mistaken for your son's grandma! Avoid wrinkles as much as you can. Free radicals result from the exposure to sun, smoke and pollution. They can cause inflammation and cellular damage to the collagen -- a main component of the connective tissue that keeps skin firm and wrinkle free. The antidote? Antioxidants, such as vitamins A, C and E, found in brightly colored fruits, berries, vegetables and some legumes. Eat foods rich in antioxidants and take supplements as necessary.
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