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Healthy body, healthy skin

Our skin is made up of living cells that are among the most actively dividing cells in our body. Old cells are constantly shed from the surface of the skin and replaced by newer cells coming from below. The efficiency of the cell renewal process is dependent on a good supply of oxygen and nutrients, which means that our body must be in tip-top shape. The saying "in the pink of health" illustrates the close relationship between the skin and the health of the body. Doctors often look at the colour of the skin to determine the general state of health of the body. So if you want your skin to be healthy, you've got to keep your body healthy! Here are some do's and don'ts of healthy living:- 

 Do's  Dont's
 Take a well-balanced diet  Smoke
 Take vitamnins  Drink excessive alcohol
 Drink enough water Abuse drugs
Exercise regularly  
 Get enough sleep and rest  
 Learn how to deal with stress  

Diet

Take 3 meals a day and a well-balanced diet comprising of food from the four main food groups:

  • Milk and diary products        
  • Meat, poultry and fish
  • Cereals and grains
  • Vegetables and fruits

Many people believe that by taking enough food, the body automatically gets all the nutrition it needs. This is not true because you can be overfed and overweight, and still be undernourished. This happens when you take too much animal fats, sugar, processed foods and fast foods which are rich in calories but not particularly nutritious. The first thing to do is reduce the intake of these foods and take a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and fibres and low in fats and calories. Avoid sudden dieting as it could leave folds of excess skin and cause hairloss. As a general rule, do not loose more than 0.5 - 1 kg per week. 

Tip

  • Eat a variety of foods i.e., all the four food groups for lunch and dinner   
  • Eat smaller amounts of high calorie foods (such as foods containing a lot of sugar or fat)       
  • Eat more high fibre foods like fruits, vegetables, wholemeal bread and wholemeal cereals like brown rice

Vitamins

Your body cannot produce most of these so we have to take them in the food or as supplements. Vitamins have had a rather mixed fortune. Some swear by it while others dismiss them as unnecessary and a total waste of money. However, vitamins have made a come back recently as a result of scientists taking another look at the health benefits that many vitamin enthusiasts had been claiming for years. The most interesting of these vitamins are the so-called antioxidants - vitamin A, C and E which are believed to increase resistance to illness and possibly, even reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease.

Anti-oxidants block or neutralise free radicals which are damaging to many body processes and cell membranes and hence, may delay ageing. Free radicals are caused by smoking, UV rays, pollution and our body's own chemical processes. Carrots, broccoli and fatty fish are some rich sources of anti-oxidants. Vitamin C is also important for the synthesis of collagen which is why it is being used as a treatment for wrinkles. 

Drink

Water is important for keeping our skin hydrated and supple and for eliminating waste products. Drink at least six, preferably eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. Drink plain water rather than coffee, tea or alcoholic beverages because these have a diuretic effect (that is cause you to pass more urine). 

Exercise

Exercise increases blood circulation to all parts of the body, including the skin and helps to bring a rosy glow to the skin. It also burns off excessive fat and is a great stress reliever, as well.  The FITT rule is a good guide.

Follow the FITT rule

Frequency - exercise three to five times a week

Intensity - exercise until you are perspiring freely and breathing deeply without feeling any pain or discomfort

Type - each session should last 20 - 60 minutes comprising of

  • stretching exercises to warm up and cool down        
  • aerobic activities (like jogging, cycling, swimming, ball or racquet games)

Time - each session should last 20 - 60 minutes

 

Get enough sleep and rest

You need rest to recharge your batteries. It is important for good skin (remember "beauty sleep") and helps the skin heal, especially after surgery. Lack of sleep may also encourage the development of unsightly dark rings under the eyes. Sleep on your back to avoid getting sleep lines. 

Stress

We all know that stress can show in our face. A stressed person tends to frown and scrunch up his face and these may become permanently etched on the face as wrinkles. Stress is bad for your body and skin, as well.

Learn how to deal with stress

Do no overload yourself
  •  Set youself realistic goals.
  • Plan your time well and space out your work.
  • Learn to delegate work and don't be afraid to say "no" to unrealistic demands.
  • Look for new ways to do things if work is beginning to feel dull
Learn to de-stress
  • Deep breathing - close your eyes and take slow, deep breaths.     
  • Progressive muscle relaxation - tense part of the body, then gradually let it relax. Repeat with different parts of the body.       
  • Meditation - let your mind focus on a pleasant, soothing image or word.        
  • Shoulder and neck massage - ask a friend to gently massage away the tension in your shoulder and neck muscles.

Smoking

Smokers tend to pucker the mouth. The use of the perioral muscles around the mouth results in wrinkles, creases and lines around the mouth. Wrinkles may also develop around the eyes due to smokers scrunching up their eyes to avoid the smoke. Smoking causes carbon monoxide to increase in the blood and induces the formation of free radicals and nicotine constricts the blood vessels and also reduces blood flow to the skin. Cigarette smoke also contains benzopyrene which is known to inhibit the body’s absorption of vitamin C which, you may remember, is important for the synthesis of healthy collagen. It has been found that persons who smoke ten or more cigarettes a day for a minimum of 10 years are statistically more likely to have deeply wrinkled, leathery skin than a non-smoker.

Alcohol and abuse drugs

Excessive intake of alcohol and drug abuse are a form of escapism that may soon become the sole purpose in life at the expense of everything else - career, family, proper diet, personal grooming including skincare and health (liver cirrhosis). Alcohol also robs the body of B vitamins and causes a chronic alcoholic flush and encourages the development of telangiectasias, spider angiomas and acne rosacea.