The anti-aging industry is standing the tests of time as one of the longest lived healthcare trends of all time, and for good reason. New research delving into global centenarian regions called “Blue Zones”, ancestral diets, antioxidants, human psychology and beyond are showing limitless approaches for increasing our lifespan. But beyond living longer, anti-aging means living better and living beautifully, regardless of how many years we spend earthbound.
Skin health is an important topic in the anti-aging community, because it represents much more than our vanity. The skin is our largest organ, and is part of the integumentary system alongside our hair and nails. The skin serves a multitude of vital functions. Primarily, it holds all of our internal organs in place, securing them to our structural system which includes the musculoskeletal system. Additionally, the skin plays an integral role in the immune system by providing a structural barrier to prevent infection from pathogens, and hosts a diverse microbiome which further protects against invading bacteria, yeasts, and viruses. The skin also controls our hydration status by moderating moisture loss and absorption through the dermal layer.
There are many ways to support our skin health. Optimizing micronutrient status is a great first step. Vitamin C promotes collagen production in the skin, and acts as an antioxidant to reduce signs of aging. It is found in abundance in cruciferous vegetables, citrus fruits, and berries, and in smaller amounts in raw milk and adrenal gland.
Zinc reduces dermal inflammation and regulates skin cell production and turnover.
This mineral is found in abundance in organ meats, shellfish, mushrooms, and nuts and seeds. Ensure that nuts and seeds are soaked in an acidic medium and sprouted to deactivate anti nutrients such as phytic acid that otherwise would bind to minerals, making them unavailable for absorption by the body.
B vitamins also play a role in the production of cellular energy and modulate the life cycle of skin cells. One B vitamin in particular, biotin, plays a role in supporting the entire integumentary system, and can be used to treat cracking skin in the corners of the mouth, rashes, and scalp conditions. Biotin is found in egg yolks, mushrooms, and properly prepared nuts, particularly almonds and walnuts.
Silicon is a trace mineral that plays a role in the health of our skin, nails, hair and bones. It is used in the production of collagen, the primary structural protein in our skin. Silicon is found in various fruits and vegetables including asparagus, cucumbers, and strawberries and raspberries, but is found in highest concentrations in herbs such as horsetail. Horsetail is a common wild herb that grows along waterways, often found in ditches alongside a river trail. It can be dried or boiled fresh to make an infusion (tea).
Collagen is a chain of amino acids that include an abundance of glycine, proline and hyroxyproline. These amino acids are particularly important for the skin, and the skin itself is composed of about 75% collagen by dry mass. Collagen production is in part regulated by aforementioned nutrients, including vitamin C, biotin and silicon, but is also an essential protein. Collagen is found in bones, cartilage and connective tissues of animals. The best food sources of collagen include bone broth, skin-on cuts of meat, pork rinds, and sinewy or tough cuts of meat, which can be slow cooked or stewed.
Ensuring the diet is abundant in vitamins, minerals, collagen and trace elements can provide the body with a full range of benefits, including healthy and beautiful skin. Focus on fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables, mushrooms, organ meats and bone broths, and properly prepared nuts and seeds to provide an excellent foundation for good health, and supplementation can be considered as an additional supportive intervention.