What speeds up the aging process?
A few things that have definite downward effect on beauty and aging process and that you can very well live without are:
Sugar: As I mentioned in the chapter on skin and hair care during the festive season, sugar, in all of its forms— high fructose corn syrup, cane sugar—suppresses the activity of our white blood cells and so makes you more susceptible to colds, flu, and worsens allergies. It breaks down good proteins, leading to advanced glycation end products (AGE). AGE makes the proteins in the collagen and hair stiff and hard; thus speeding up the skin ageing and making hair brittle, and therefore it is one of the main contributors to wrinkles, deep lines, and sagging skin. When our blood sugar and insulin levels rise, whether from dietary sugar, starchy foods, or from stress, we experience a serious increase in inflammatory chemicals. This causes acne to worsen dramatically along with Cortisol and other adrenal steroids that stimulate the sebaceous (oil) glands. So overloading on high sugar foods in the name of desserts or a spoon of sugar in your daily tea, or our great Indian weddings and festivals which are round the year, causes damage to your skin and hair.
Salt: Excessive salt in your body increases all sorts of inflammation and retains fluid everywhere. The swollen joints, breasts, and belly are partly because of fluid retention aggravated by salt. Ayurvedic doctors say that your joint pains and systemic illnesses can be helped with a no salt diet. For us now think swollen face and puffy eyes! So NO salt, especially post sunset, because salt makes you retain water. So if you have puffy eyes early in the morning, or a water retained feeling on the bust and belly areas, then the easy and best trick will be to cut down on your salt intake in the second half of your day.
Smoke: Smoke and pollution damages hair and skin. You will find your hair feeling dry and scalp irritated and even itchy. Too much exposure can lead to boils/ folliculitis, skin rash, and acne exacerbation. Wearing a scarf and braiding your hair will prevent it from harmful smoke.. Smoking pretty much does to your skin from inside what sun does from the outside—it makes your collagen weak, skin look tired, interferes with your blood supply, and slows down wound healing. I always tell my patients that drinking alcohol once in moderation is okay but smoking is an absolute no!
Alcohol: I have told you all through my book how sun harms your skin and how important sunscreen is. Now if you take a very little quantity, the size of a bitter pill, it’s not going to help. You actually need a dollop, about 2 big pea size, for your face alone to even come near to achieving the SPF protection mentioned on the tube.
Using the wrong cleanser: It can strip all your moisture, making your skin further dry and increasing the fine lines, irritating the area around the eye and mouth. So go for a creamy cleanser.
Overeating: When you gain a lot of weight, you know what happens to the skin—it gets mottled and flushed. And then when you lose weight, stretch marks and sagging appears. Yes, there are creams and oils and lasers and peels and radio frequency and micro needling. But even when we put them all together, we can’t get back your skin ‘just right’.
Sleeping positions: Be mindful of your sleeping positions. Always sleep on your back. Compressing your face against the pillow will cause more creases, alter facial shape, and cause acne.
Facial expressions: Keep repeating only the happy ones. Sad ones stick on too.
So, don’t let your skin look older than your age. Age Gracefully.