Mirror, mirror on wall, send me help before I bawl!
“‘Vanity of vanities! All is vanity.’ Who said that anyway? Come now, Mirror, I’m not vain at all. I just need a simple way to slow my wrinkles down and get the dry, parchment-like feel of my aging skin to show me some mercy. Is that too much to ask of Mother Nature?”
“No, my dear,” said the Traditional Cook. “All is well. Read on, and you’ll feel younger and younger. Now sit back and enjoy the trip to Youthville…”
When pesky wrinkles start to show up, every pretty little 20-something can make us feel old and jealous. We start looking at old photographs and pining for the good old days. But, alas, here we are—much earlier than we thought—contemplating plastic surgery or dangerous peels. Yes, some of the newest methods for peeling away old skin are far from safe. I have a good client taking heavy doses of Cataplex C and a few other Standard Process supplements after an attempt to remove her wrinkles with a laser peel burned too deep. For all intents and purposes, she was in a state of panic for over a year as she tried to recover from the scarring, redness, and tenderness on her cheeks. If you think this procedure is in the cards for you, please beware of how you choose to go about this very delicate task.
The signs of aging are a real concern for many of us. We’re noticing wrinkles and spots and beginning to lose elasticity—not just in our faces but our necks, arms, and yes, even our rear ends! Some of us run to the nearest, most expensive department store hoping to reverse the process with name-brand creams full of hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, and all sorts of so-called “natural” substances. I might add that most of these creams contain dangerous antioxidants to boot!
Salons that treat our damaged, aging skin are one of the biggest money makers in the beauty world. But what about those of us who just want to stop the damage to the extent possible, understanding that Mother Nature always wins the house? Rather than live in constant fear of the next wrinkle, many of us just want to grow old gracefully, accepting that wrinkles are a natural part of life. Even as our more mature years lie ahead of us, we can—yes, we can—stay beautiful while drastically decreasing our chances of looking like a dried prune.
Let’s start by taking a look at what a wrinkle is. Also known as a rhytide, a wrinkle is a fold, ridge, or crease in the skin. Skin wrinkles are typically the result of the aging process and are influenced by factors such as glycation, habitual sleeping positions, loss of body mass, or temporarily as the result of prolonged immersion in water. Age wrinkles are promoted by habitual facial expressions, sleep loss, overindulgence in alcohol, sun damage, smoking, poor hydration, prolonged illness or worry, and other factors too varied to be listed here. Possibly the most important thing to do when you first start noticing wrinkles is take stock of your frantic lifestyle and what nutrition your diet provides to your skin and overall health. Remember, the human body can only be sustained from the inside out.
Now let’s see how some lifestyle and nutritional superstars can help put us back on track with healthy, vibrant skin. And let’s also discuss some of the things to avoid if we’re truly serious about making the best out of the years that lie ahead.
Lifestyle and Nutritional Super Stars: Seven Steps to a More Beautiful You!
1. Probiotics. These promote the growth of friendly intestinal bacteria and prevent inflammation, a major cause of skin deterioration and gastrointestinal distress. Dr. Nicholas Perricone, a well-noted, board-certified dermatologist and renowned author, has made millions teaching and advocating one thing: avoid inflammation! When we overload our gastrointestinal system, it’s unable to cope. The result is an acceleration of skin aging. This means that once you notice that first pesky wrinkle, it’s more important than ever to incorporate lacto-fermented foods into your diet. My Cook Your Way to Wellness DVD will get you started on a balanced, inexpensive, and easy program to repopulate your gut with healthy intestinal flora—a major first step to achieving your goal of not just beautiful skin but excellent overall health.
2. Elevated Cortisol Levels. There is a little talked-about disorder that has many people seeking magic bullets in the form of dangerous, habit-forming sedatives and sleeping aids, all in an effort to bring a modicum of peace and calm to their lives. It’s known as Sympathetic Nervous Overload, and it’s characterized by one or more of the following systems:
- Stubborn belly fat
- Trouble sleeping
- Shallow breathing or other asthma-like symptoms
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or other forms of gastric distress
- Constant sense of tension
Talk about wrinkles and premature aging! If any of these symptoms apply to you, please take it seriously and get yourself tested for elevated cortisol levels. Also talk with a good Standard Process practitioner to help resolve your issues with the right supplements to balance your sympathic-parasympathetic nervous system. Above all, learn to relax. In terms of truly learning how to relax, one book has been a godsend to me: Release from Nervous Tension, written in 1943 by David Fink, MD. I was stunned to read that we can’t sleep well unless we’re relaxed—but that relaxing is not what most of us think it is! Please consider reading this book.
3. The right fats and oils. Animal-based fats, raw and/or cultured butter, and especially cod liver oil, also play an important role. Sally Fallon Morrell recommends fermented cod liver oil made by Green Pasture, and Standard Process has an excellent cod liver oil for your consideration as well. It’s vital to understand that the right fats will not only keep your skin supple and wrinkle free but also contribute to your overall health. The best article I’ve found on this subject is from the Weston A. Price Foundation. Pass it around among your friends, family, and clients—it may save your life or the life of someone you love!
4. Supplementation. Don’t we all wish we could just eat a well-balanced diet and not have to worry about anything else? Those of us who have tried that and found it lacking know that even if our diets are near perfect, we’re still wavering human beings. We simply cannot sensibly maintain a diet that’s 100 percent perfect 365 days a year. In the end we’ll always come up short when it comes to fulfilling all our nutritional needs. The best solution I’ve found is whole food supplements. And of course my choice has always been Standard Process.
In addition to my first three recommendations—probiotics, lowering your cortisol levels, and eating good fats—here are a few essential supplements that will, in time give you some tremendous results:
- DermaCo (MediHerb). For chronic skin conditions, acne, eczema, psoriasis, boils.
- Dermatrophin PMG (Standard Process). Good for anti-scarring, cracked skin, burns, and general skin disorders.
- General Health Daily Fundamentals (Standard Process). Contains several products to support a less than optimal diet. Convenient general daily nutritional support, especially for people on the go.
Remember, these are just a few of the great supplements available to you from Standard Process. See your holistic practitioner for a full slate of what else your body may show signs of needing. There are also special supplements designed to help you balance your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system, so don’t miss out on those or any other calming, balancing products.
5. Foods to avoid. In naming a few of the worst foods in the modern diet, at all cost we must limit our sugar intake. That’s no doubt one of the best ways to prevent premature aging. Fructose in an isolated state (not necessarily as part of a whole food such as fruit) in particular contributes to inflammation in the body by interacting with amino acids to create a set of compounds called advanced glycation end products (AGEs). When the system becomes overloaded, it’s unable to cope with the additional heavy burden of environmental toxins, many of which accelerate skin aging. Also watch out for caffeine. Like elevated cortisol levels, caffeine dehydrates the body and leads to premature wrinkling. In his bestselling books, The Perricone Prescription and The Wrinkle Cure, Dr. Nicholas Perricone is emphatic about quitting coffee to prevent skin aging. His patients revealed the consequences of elevated cortisol levels on aging and wrinkles through both dehydration and decreased collagen and elastin production. I would also like to add that chocolate of any kind is not recommend by Sally Fallon Morrell due to similar adrenal stimulation from the caffeine-like substance called theobromine. If you’re already in a stressful situation, chocolate may make it worse.
6. Nourishing facial balms. Our skin is highly absorbent, which means that many of the things we apply to it enter directly into the bloodstream. Please read your labels and check out your cosmetics at EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database.
I’m very impressed with products that I’ve been using for several years from Vintage Tradition—and they’re made with beef tallow! Yes, beef tallow. This is nature’s original skincare product, and it works better than the artificial, manmade versions that began to replace it in the 20th century. The latest research confirms the traditional wisdom of our ancestors. Tallow contains abundant, natural fat-soluble vitamins, such as A, D, E, and K, as well as fat-soluble activators found only in animal fats, which promote skin health. Tallow also contains fats with known anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties, including conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), and palmitoleic acid, which contains natural antimicrobial properties. The small Colorado-based company Vintage Traditions makes a face balm with beef tallow, and I now make my own by following their online recipe. Check them out—I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the results.
7. Some of the best food choices to get you started:
- Beets. The numerous benefits of beets cannot be estimated, and that’s especially true when you consume them lacto-fermented. I recently wrote a blog post on this very subject. It’s worth a read if you missed it, if for no other reason than to see how many nutrients your skin will be privy to.
- Sweet Potatoes. I love root vegetables! And even though this particular root vegetable is called a sweet potato, it’s not full of bad sugar. Sweet potatoes contain high amounts of vitamins and complex carbohydrates, which release sugar intermittently in your body, just as nature intended. Sweet potatoes also contain beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A when digested, and this naturally oxygenates the skin. In addition to all of that, the fiber in sweet potatoes is a great digestive aid.
- Garlic. Garlic is not all smell. It contains allicin, which reacts with blood to form a new substance that, in turn, destroys unwanted bacteria and viruses already present in the body. Garlic also improves the body’s immunity and has an amazing ability to slow down the aging of skin. Grow it! Cook with it! Eat lots of it raw!
- Avocados. More than just a super tasty food, avocadoes also contain vitamins E and C. This fruit improves skin texture and tone and boosts skin vitality, while considerably increasing the moisture-retention capacity of skin. How about guacamole 4 times a week? I eat it all the time and hopefully you will too!
- Nuts. When I recommend nuts, I mean “Crispy Nuts.” These are brined to remove the phytic acid and make them ready for your digestive pleasure. You can learn how to make them in Cook Your Well to Wellness. Although you should eat a minimal amount of nut butters due to their high omega 6 content, they’re fine when eaten in moderation. Crispy nuts contain zinc, selenium, manganese, potassium and magnesium —all nutrients that make for beautiful skin.
Photo from iStock/DonskayaOlga