There is an indisputable inevitability about ageing. As we get older, our appearance changes. Skin becomes less taught, damaged by the stress of everyday life. Wrinkles form, skin discolours. Hairs grow in unexpected places and we long for a time when we looked more youthful.
Anti-ageing products and the billion dollar industry
That longing for youthful skin gives buoyancy to a global anti-ageing market. According to a recent report, the industry will be worth over $216 billion dollars globally by 2021. But do the creams, serums, masks and facelifts really prevent the ageing process or are we getting it all wrong?
We know that diet and exercise are the best way to stay healthy. And yet when it comes to our skin, we turn to externally applied lotions and potions. We use chemical peels, anti-pigmentation therapies and toxic substances injected into our skin. This is despite the knowledge that the skin is the largest organ in the human body. It acts as a gateway to the outside world, absorbing both the external environment and the nutrients we take on board internally.
Nutrition and the ageing process
Diet and nutrition impact virtually ever aspect of our health and wellbeing and skin ageing is no exception. A 2008 study looked at the impact of different nutrients on the appearance of skin. Scientists studied women aged 40 to 74 years old. Subjects recorded what they ate and dermatologists examined their skin. The ageing appearance of skin was defined as wrinkles, senile dryness and atrophy of the skin.
They found a lower likelihood of wrinkles and senile dryness in people with a high intake of vitamin C. People who consumed a high intake of linoleic acid had lower likelihood of skin atrophy and senile dryness. Conversely, higher intakes of fat and carbohydrate in people’s diets were associated with an increased likelihood of both skin atrophy and wrinkles.
The conclusion of the study was that higher levels of vitamin C and linoleic acid are associated with improved appearance of ageing skin. Leading to the recommendation that a healthy diet may benefit the appearance of skin as you age, as well as all the other known health benefits.
Dietary sources of Vitamin C and Linoleic Acid
Most of us are aware that a diet high in fruit and vegetables provides vitamin C. In particular, the NHS recommends consuming oranges, green and red peppers, blackcurrants, strawberries, Brussel sprouts, broccoli and even potatoes. If you struggle to eat enough fruit and vegetables, it may be worth considering a vitamin C supplement or a multivitamin that contains vitamin C.
Essential fatty acids including linoleic acid are in hemp and flax seeds, walnuts almonds, dark green leafy vegetables, olive oil, whole grain foods and eggs. You can also top up with your levels with a food state essential fatty acid supplement.