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Skin and Metabolism

Posted on 21 January 2016

When we think of a speedier metabolism, we think of a body that burns off calories faster, so maybe we don’t have to feel so guilty about that slice of pizza – or three – we ate at lunch. But metabolism impacts more than our waistlines. It turns out, a slow metabolism also impacts skin, and when it does, we begin to look less radiant, and skin often begins to wrinkle and sag. (As if having to buy an extra jean size wasn’t problematic enough.)

Metabolism of Skin

As our body’s metabolism slows down, so does our skin. A slower skin metabolism means that cells communicate more slowly, respond as a slower pace and take action less speedily than they once did. That means surface cells slough off slower, new cells and collagen proteins aren’t produced as quickly and your skin is less able to repair itself from damage due to UV rays. The end result is dull skin, sagging skin, dark spots and wrinkles to go along with our larger pant size. So do we just give up, grab a bag of chips and settle in for the lines, wrinkles and elastic waistbands of middle age? No, not at all, experts say. Even small lifestyle changes can stoke the slowest of skin metabolisms, revving it up no matter how sluggish it might seem.

Keep Skin Cells Communicating

In order to keep our skin’s metabolism going strong, we need to also ensure that our cells are communicating as they should, so that the surface layers know to shed and the healthy cells below push their way to the top. Skin with a healthy metabolism is also better able to help encourage the production of new skin cells in case of an injury, so there is less likely to be a resulting scar. So what can we do to keep cells communicating at their best, rather than engaging in one of those fruitless games of telephone, where the first person sends a message, only to find out that the message at the end is totally different than what was said in the first place. Experts offer up some tips to rev up skin metabolism, so every cell functions the way it should.

Eat Right

A diet of leafy greens – kale, spinach and beet tops – paired with oily fish, the kind packed with omega-3 fatty acids, will help keep skin healthy. Leafy greens are loaded with skin-healthy antioxidants – which fight free radicals that damage DNA and cause cells to go rogue and malfunction - while Omega-3s including DHA and EPA, fish oil has been shown in hundreds of different studies to help reduce inflammation, which has been linked to a wide range of problems including skin conditions such as rosacea. It’s also important to include veggies with beta-carotene such as carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and squash. The beta-carotene will convert to vitamin A, which helps speed cell turnover.

Skip the Cigs

While smoking tends to speed up your dietary metabolism – explaining why smokers tend to pack on a few pounds after they quit the habit – smoking has the opposite effect when it comes to your skin, and is slows skin metabolism down significantly. Smoking damages the mitochondria of skin cells – which helps process nutrients and turn them into energy. When skin cells are less able to produce or use energy, they function at a slower pace, and are less able to heal. They are also less able to communicate, so the collagen bonds that connect cells break down, resulting in wrinkles, sagging skin and all the other signs of aging, damaged skin. Smoking also impacts the body’s ability to produce antioxidants, which help protect cells from toxins including cigarette smoke, so your cells are faced with double damage.

Increase the blood flow to skin

Massages, microdermabrasion and any other activity that encourages blood flow to the skin’s surface also provide oxygen that feeds the cells while working to repair the links between them. A facial massage for your face is like a run for your body, and boosts metabolism big-time. At the same time, exercise also proves to be a good way to increasing blood flow throughout your body, so more oxygen and nutrients are delivered to skin cells. Not only does a good workout help improve the look of skin, it also helps reduce cortisol levels, acting like a “Elevated cortisol keeps your cells functioning at a hyper vigilant state,” according to according to Dr. David Bank, M.D., an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center. “It’s like forcing someone to stay awake for a long time. It's draining and damaging.” Exercise reduces cortisol, uses up blood glucose that can damage skin proteins and boosts metabolism in more ways than one.

Find a good skin care cream

Products with retinol can make a big difference. “Retinoids stimulate circulation and increase cell growth, which speeds up the skin's regeneration process and ultimately its metabolism,” according to Dr. David Bank, M.D., an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center. Senvie’s Lux Intensive skin brightening cream contains retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A that falls into the retinoid category and is designed to speed regeneration and metabolism to reveal brighter, more refreshed skin. Lux Intensive also contains green tea extract, which offers caffeine that can stimulate skin cells by boosting blood flow and metabolism.

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