by Kheyrne Danu
There are times in life when gravity appears to weigh heavily on the body, especially on the skin. Nobody wants skin that lacks mojo and hangs lifelessly from your bones. Being the outside organ of the body the skin is exposed to heavy environmental wear and tear. Adding in a little extra support and nourishment can help the skin find its firmness once again.
- Skin hydration – Firm skin is directly linked to hydration. The body is made of over 70% water; this can diminish dramatically if we don’t stay hydrated. One of the main signs of dehydration is sagging, wrinkly skin. Yet drinking any old water won’t necessarily do the trick; the body needs minerals to hydrate. Electrolytes are the specific minerals that our cells demand to function optimally. Electrolytes have the important job of keeping the blood pH in balance; they are comprised of calcium, chloride, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and sodium. These minerals are found in natural spring water and are responsible for all the processes that keep your skin firm including hormone synthesis, muscle contraction, nerve conduction and cell detoxification. Hydrating skin products are helpful, but considering the we are made of everything that we consume, 8 glasses of water a day is necessary to give your skin the liquid life force it so desires.
- Lymph stimulation – For firm skin we need a healthy blood and lymph supply. Blood has the job of nourishing our cells with oxygen and nutrients while the lymph removes harmful waste. Unlike blood, lymph is not spurred on by the heartbeat; it needs physical movement or outside stimulation to be set in motion. Fluid retention can build up when areas of tissue are either sedentary or suffocated by tension. Cellulite and loose skin are good examples of this; the stagnant waste builds up between the tissues and can result in a breakdown of the firm fascia (the connective tissue of our skin). Cultures such as the Japanese and Cherokee have used the art of body brushing for hundreds of years. This simple manual stimulation has a variety of benefits. Natural brushes are used to firmly stimulate lymph motion, as well as brush off dead skin cells and invigorate collagen production. Some even claim the technique helps to break up fatty deposits. Another way to give your lymph attention is with an effective and relaxing lymphatic massage treatment. Whichever method you choose, getting your lymph going is a sure fire way to detoxify and tone your skin.
- Movement – Life is motion; to ensure vibrant skin we need to move. Regular exercise can help to improve skin tightening, by toning muscles and rejuvenating connective tissues. Brisk walking or jogging increases blood circulation, collagen production and skin detoxification through sweating. Plus working the calf muscles activates the lymphatic pump for the whole body. On those days spent sitting behind a computer or in the car, our breath becomes the main pump for our lymphatic system and blood supply. Deep diaphragmatic breathing can literally breathe our skin firmer! Sitting in one position for long periods of time can limit circulation creating dense tissue. The lack of nutrients and oxygen to this tissue can result in lumpy limp skin. Foam rollers have been found to break up the compression in connective tissue, promoting good circulation and a taut appearance. We don’t need a two hour manic session at the gym to stimulate circulation, as little as 20 minutes of exercise a day can do wonders for healthy firm skin.
- De-stress – Life has its challenges, but spending the day zooming around in our heads can add years to the aging process, including the look of our skin. High levels of the stress hormone cortisol can activate the build up of belly fat. The idea of growing a spare tyre is bad enough, but the worst part is this area of flesh becomes floppier as cortisol increases. During short bursts of stress cortisol is initially protective for our tissue; over extended periods a different story unfolds. Long-term cortisol begins to break down our connective tissue. Loose wrinkly skin is usually the first sign of stress damage. According to Dr Bridget Briggs an American hormone specialist, “It only takes 5 days of high stress for changes to be seen in the belly and the skin.” Gathering affective tools to deal with demanding times will do wonders for your mental state and physical appearance.
- Skin food – Skin is made of an intricate network of elastic connective tissue, which is mainly made from the protein collagen. Healthy fascial tissue provides the strong, smooth, resilient structure that we all desire. Free radicals from environmental toxins or stress can easily damage the skins tissue. Raw fruits and vegetables are packed with antioxidants that diffuse free radicals and nourish collagen.
- Vitamin C helps to strengthen the body’s ability to manufacture collagen and to utilize the protein effectively. Great sources of vitamin C include citrus, camu camu, berries, red pepper, broccoli and leafy green vegetables. Vitamin C is also a potent antioxidant slowing oxidative damage from environmental exposure and stress.
- Dark Green Leaves – Such as spinach, kale, rocket and bok choy are packed with an antioxidant called lutein that boosts skin hydration and elasticity.
- Omega 3 helps to create an ideal environment for collagen production. Fish such as salmon and tuna are excellent sources of omega 3. Hemp and chia seeds are also packed with this richly nutritious oil.
- Hot and Cold – During a hot sauna or steam bath, most of the extra blood flow is directed to the skin. Unless you have high blood pressure or a heart condition, saunas are a fabulous way to cleanse your skin. Sweating opens up your pores, eliminates toxins and impurities and increases circulation. Sauna’s and steam rooms also increase the oxygen supply to skin, leaving it soft and youthful. To really increase the skins firmness, alternating between the sauna and a cold pool or shower is the key. The Nordic tradition is known for its sauna ritual, people are seen alternating between piping hot saunas and soft mounds of snow. This process stimulates overall health and creates an amazing toned youthful skin.
- Good sleep – We all need our beauty sleep. Studies have shown that poor sleep quality can accelerate signs of aging skin. Sleep is a time for the body to heal, regenerate and eliminate toxins. During deep sleep, growth hormones peak and stimulate cell and tissue repair. Lack of sleep can impact the skin on numerous levels. It can slow the repair process and decrease recovery from environmental stressors resulting in tissue damage. It can raise the cortisol levels; damaging the connective tissue and decreasing collagen formation. And sleep deprivation can increase oxidative stress. All of which lead to dull, loose and prematurely aged skin. One can eat the all best food and exercise till you’re blue in the face, but without a good nights sleep your skin isn’t able complete its essential daily regeneration process. Sleep may well be the true elixir of life.