Updated: Dec 16, 2022
I attended a full day Pharma Nord seminar on health and beauty last weekend, where dr. Hiie Wipf, who is an endocrinologist as well as the owner of the anti-aging aesthetic clinic in Estonia, gave a very thorough overview of how our health and wellness affects our skin and vice versa. As skin is our largest organ (a side note, that our largest internal organ is our liver and the largest immune-organ is our gut), it's vital to take care of it, both inside and outside. In the below post I share what I learnt in the seminar.
What influences skin ageing?
There are multiple things that can speed up your skin ageing- it's good to evaluate in your own life, which area needs attention- where could you bring more health and balance:
Lack of sleep
Our genes determine the type of our skin, whether it's normal, dry, oily or mixed and the colour of our skin. You can influence a lot how fast your skin ages with your lifestyle.
What shorten the telomeres and how can you preserve them?
Telomeres are segments of DNA at the end of our chromosomes, that control ageing. For better understanding, they are often compared to the plastic tips at the end of our shoe laces, that keep the laces together. Telomeres also help similarly preventing chromosomes from tangling with each other or fraying. If that happens, it can cause genetic information to get mixed up or destroyed, causing cell malfunction and therefore leading to disease or shorter lifespan. Each time a cell divides, its telomeres get shorter. If telomeres get too short, cell becomes inactive or dies. This is how our body ages, but this is also what causes cancer and higher risk of death.
Things that shorten telomeres:
Hormones regulate our body's activity, keeping glycose, electrolytes, water, calcium and functions (sleep, cell regeneration, mood, motivation, libido, growth, appetite, satiety, etc in their normal borders and in balance). We have over 40 different hormones, produced by different organs in our body. You might know thyroid hormones (TSH, T3, T4), stress hormones (cortisol), sleep hormone (melatonin), a feel good hormone (dopamine), a love hormone (oxytocin), hunger hormone (ghrelin), satiety hormone (leptine) etc.
As we age, several of our hormones decline, including testosterone, estrogen, melatonin, growth hormone, pregnenolone, which affect our health, like for example:
poor sleep (supplemental melatonin affects our sleep, but it's not a sleep medicine, it's more a sleep rhythm regulator)
increased blood sugar
lower bone density
body fat percentage increase
But there are also hormones that increase as we age, like TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone), FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone), LH (Luteinizing Hormone), norepihephrin, epinephrin, parathyroid hormone.
How can you preserve telomeres so you can stay healthier, feel and look younger when you age:
Eat a variety of foods for vitamin and antioxidant benefits, including healthy fats
Regular physical activity
Control and reduce stress, practice yoga and meditation
Get fresh air, walk in nature
Practice intermittent fasting
Consume collagen rich foods and take small doses of supplemental collagen
D-vitamin (from sun, foods and through supplementation)
What are the important nutrients for the healthy looking body and skin?
Our skin is the protection barrier, immune system frontline, sensing organ and vitamin factory. Below is a list of nutrients that's needed for healthy looking skin. Though I always recommend food first approach to get your vitamins, minerals, essential fats from whole foods, supplementation might be necessary to get to a good level for a specific person.
Regulates skin oil production
Improves balanced hydration
May help to slow down or prevent acne
Best source is animal source by consuming oily fish (salmon, sardine, mackerel, herring, anchovies) and other fish as they contain both the EPA an DHA. Plant sources like walnuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds, flaxseeds also contain omega-3, but they contain ALA, which take a lot of energy from your body to convert to DHA and EPA.
Helps with collagen and elastin production
Strengthens skin immune system
Oxidises fast, so don't add to creams. Only use in single-size doses if wanted.
Found in camu camu berries, amla berries, Acerola cherries, black currants, red pepper, kiwi, guava, orange, green bell peppers, strawberries, papaya, broccoli, kale, parsley, pineapple, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, mango, lemon, grapefruit, tomatoes etc.
Protects from infections
Reduces DNA damage
Lengthens the telomeres
People who smoke, drink too much coffee or alcohol, eat a lot of white rice tend to be deficient in selenium. Also people living in certain areas or countries are suffering more from selenium deficiency (like in many parts of Estonia). But it's also important to note that you should not take selenium supplement in high doses or for a long period of time- it is a micro-mineral, which means our body needs it in small quantities.
Found in Brazil nuts, salmon, turkey, tuna, cottage cheese, mushrooms, chicken, eggs, sardines, sunflower seeds, grass-fed beef, beef liver, oats.
Collagen contains all essential amino acids, except tryptophan. There are 28 different types of collagen (I, II, III type collagen- these we have the most in the skin). How long does it take for collagen to work on the body:
skin (1-3 months)
nails (6 months)
ligaments (4-6 months)
muscles (3 months)
bone density (12 months)
tendons (3-6 months)
You need on a daily basis the following amounts of collagen:
bone density (5g)
It's important to note that if you take too much collagen, it reduces tryptophan in the body, which can cause depression. Also, when you purchase collagen, make sure it's clean and check who is the producer and its background (should be a credible source). It's better to take small doses of collagen.
Helps with collagen production
Helps with skin cells reproduction
May help to protect the skin from sunburn
Found in orange and yellow vegetables and fruits, but also in greens (carrots, pumpkin, sweet potato, apricots, mango, cantaloupe, spinach, kale, collard greens, dandelion greens, turnip greens).
Provides energy to skin for healing and recovery
Reduces sun damage
Supports collagen production
Helps to reduce thin lines and wrinkles
Helps with brighter complexion
Found in grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, herring, trout, sesame seeds, pistachio nuts, cauliflower, broccoli, oranges, strawberries, eggs, sardines, mackerel, liver.
Biotin (vitamin H (B7))
Calms the skin
Enhances energy production
Evens out skin tone
Found in organ meats (liver), fish, eggs, nutritional yeast, avocado, cauliflower, berries, mushrooms, legumes, feta cheese, goat cheese, sweet potatoes, bananas, oatmeal, almonds, sunflower seeds.
Reduces excess oil and acne
Prevents clogging of pores
Protects against UV-rays
Supports skin healing
Keeps the skin hydrated
Found in oysters, lamb, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, grass-fed beef, chickpeas, lentils, cashew nuts, cocoa powder, yoghurt, kefir, ricotta cheese, spinach, mushrooms, avocado, chicken, almonds, eggs.
Niacinamide (vitamin B3)
Protects against infections
Evens out skin tone
Regulates sebaceous glands
Not to be confused with niacin, which is a different type of vitamin B3.
Can be naturally obtained from meat, fish, milk, eggs, green vegetables, beans, mushrooms.
Our bodies produce, consume and synthesise hyaluronic acid on a continuous basis. It's mainly found in skin tissues. In our 30s the natural production and synthesis of hyaluronic acid starts to slow down, which reduces the skins ability to maintain its hydration levels.
Hyaluronic acid production is supported by vitamin-C rich foods (citrus fruits, tomatoes, broccoli, paprika); zinc (almonds, chickpeas, red meat, poultry, oysters) magnesium (green leafy vegetables, almonds, lentils, milk products), flavonoids (citrus fruits, tomato), phytoestrogens (tofu, soy products, linseeds).
Anti-inflammatory, repairs damaged skin
Strengthens skin immune system
You can add it to creams.
Found in sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, mango, avocado, butternut squash, broccoli, spinach, kiwi, tomato.
Helps with regeneration of skin cells
Helps with skin metabolism
Helps to decrease apoptosis (cell death)
Strengthens skin immune system
Helps to destroy free radicals
Helps to heal damage from acne
The best source is sun, but we don't have access to it 365 days a year. If you are living in a country, where you have more sun, try and get 10-15 minutes of sun exposure in the morning or in the afternoon.
In foods, vitamin D is in two different forms (D3- in animal-based foods, like fish; D2 is found in mushrooms). Vitamin D3 is the more active form and also added to supplements.
Food sources are cod liver oil, wild-caught salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines, beef liver, eggs, caviar, shiitake mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, fortified milk products and orange juice.
As a supplement take with vitamin K2- helps with skin elasticity.
A master antioxidant that is produced by the liver and the central nervous system nerve-cells. Glutathione contains 3 amino-acids: glycine, cysteine and glutamate. It is involved in both liver phase 1 and phase 2 detoxification process, mitochondrial health, healthy cell growth, mercury detoxification, antioxidant function. You can get glutathione from sulfur rich foods like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, vitamin C rich foods, selenium rich foods, milk thistle, avocado, spinach, whey protein, curcumin extract. You can also take cysteine as a supplement to help body to produce glutathione. Cysteine is also an anti-dote to paracetamol. Glutathione helps to even out skin complexion. If you have an active cancer-growth, then glutathione is not recommended.
I hope the above gives you a few things to try or change in your lifestyle and diet to support healthy skin. I you are looking for guidance and help how to implement the dietary and lifestyle changes, don't hesitate to reach out to me for health coaching at firstname.lastname@example.org.