Factors that can accelerate skin ageing and how to counter them
Factors that can accelerate skin ageing include sun damage, poor diet, smoking, excessive alcohol or caffeine, stress and your genes. A healthy whole food diet with a variety of fruits & vegetables, drinking lots of water and eating healthy fats are great ways to support the skin against ageing.
Skincare specialist supplements, such as Beauty & Vitality can help maintain skin structure and help slow the signs of ageing.
Causes of Skin Ageing
Skin ageing is, of course, a natural process. But factors that may accelerate skin ageing include:
- Sun damage.
- A poor diet with lack of skin-supporting nutrients. Healthy fats and many vitamins and minerals (such as zinc, iodine, vitamin C, vitamin A and B vitamins) are required for healthy skin. Processed foods and junk foods are often low in these naturally occurring nutrients, so relying on them as a regular part of your daily diet could take its toll in the long term. Processed foods and junk foods are also more likely to contain hydrogenated fats or refined vegetable oils that may contribute to increased free radical damage in the body.
- A diet high in sugar or carbohydrates with a high glycemic index (GI). Having high blood sugar levels caused by eating a lot of these foods may increase a process called glycation in the body. This is where sugars can attach to proteins – such as collagen in the skin – and damage them, accelerating ageing.
- One of the worst offenders. Smoking can cause lots of free radical damage in the body, and impair circulation, reducing delivery of nutrient to the skin and removal of waste products.
- Excessive alcohol or caffeine consumption. Both are dehydrating for the body.
- Long-term high stress. This could include any type of stress, from a high-stress job or family life, to physical stress on the body such as that caused by a long-term illness.
- Your genes. Unfortunately, some of us will show signs of age more quickly simply due to our genetics.
To help counter skin ageing
Diet & Lifestyle Support for Maintaining Young-Looking Skin
- A diet based on whole foods or ‘real’ foods is perhaps the most important factor. Whole foods (unprocessed vegetables, fruit, meats, eggs, fish, nuts and seeds, beans and lentils) naturally provide the nutrients mentioned above that support skin health. See our article on eating real foods for more information.
- Reducing your intake of processed, refined and high-sugar foods will also help to balance your blood sugar levels to reduce skin damage from glycation. By focusing on eating real foods, you should naturally reduce your intake of processed and sugary foods.
- Eat a variety of vegetables and fruits, aiming ideally for at least seven servings a day. They provide vitamin C, which our body needs to make collagen – the main protein that gives strength and firmness to our skin. Orange vegetables and cooked tomatoes may also be particularly beneficial: they provide carotenoids which may help to reduce sun damage to the skin (but of course do not replace topical sun protection where necessary).
- Include plenty of healthy fats too. Good sources are oily fish, avocados, olive oil, nuts and seeds that aren't roasted, and cold-pressed seed oils such as flaxseed oil and hemp seed oil.
- Drink plenty of water to hydrate your skin. A good guideline for most people is 1.5 to 2 litres a day, although it can be less if you eat lots of vegetables or watery fruits; or more on a hot day or if you’re exercising. Herbal teas and soups can count towards this amount.
- You could benefit from replacing coffee and standard tea with green tea. Although green tea does contain some caffeine, it also has higher levels of antioxidants, and has been linked with reducing glycation in the body.
- Include a natural source of collagen in your diet. Collagen that we consume is broken down to supply the body with the amino acids it needs to build new collagen. Collagen is naturally found in the highest amounts in the parts of animals that we don’t usually eat: bones, cartilage, skin, tendons, and so on. For this reason, bone broth that is made in the traditional way by simmering animal bones (or an entire carcass, in the case of a chicken) for 12–24 hours can be the best way to get collagen. Collagen is also available in supplement form.
Other Supplements for maintaining
The following supplements may also help:
- ‘Skin hair nails’ combination supplement like the multi-nutrient available from Beauty & Vitality. This is the most obvious choice for an easy everyday supplementation regime, providing a variety of nutrients that may support collagen and general skin health.
- Fish oil provides beneficial omega-3 fatty acids.
- Flaxseed oil, hemp seed oil or chia seed oil also provide healthy fats that may support the skin, as mentioned above.
- Collagen. If you don’t fancy making bone broth – as described above – then you can take collagen in a supplement form to get some of the same benefits.
- Vitamin C with bioflavonoids.Vitamin C is required for our body to make collagen.
- Green ‘superfoods’ such as spirulina, chlorella, wheat grass or barley grass. Green ‘superfoods’ such as these can provide naturally occurring vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to nourish the skin. They may be particularly helpful if you struggle to eat enough vegetables and fruit (but should not be used to replace vegetables and fruit in your diet, of course).
- Vitamin D. It’s been found that having good vitamin D stores in our body may help protect against sun damage. This is a bit of a paradox, because we also need sun exposure for our body to naturally get enough vitamin D. Sometimes a supplement can be the best option to maintain healthy levels. See our page on Vitamin D for further guidance.
- Pycnogenol (pine bark extract)may help to protect collagen too.
- Aloe vera may support skin condition and elasticity. For this use, make sure you choose a general-purpose aloe vera juice or capsule, rather than one targeted towards cleansing.
The information provided on this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition. If you are taking any medications, have a diagnosed medical condition, or are pregnant or breastfeeding, please consult your doctor or health practitioner before taking supplements.
- Cho S et al. Dietary Aloe Vera Supplementation Improves Facial Wrinkles and Elasticity and It Increases the Type I Procollagen Gene Expression in Human Skin in vivo. Ann Dermatol. 2009 Feb;21(1):6-11.
- Grimm T et al. Inhibition of NF-kappaB activation and MMP-9 secretion by plasma of human volunteers after ingestion of maritime pine bark extract (Pycnogenol). J Inflamm (Lond). 2006 Jan 27;3:1.
- Rasheed Z et al. Green tea polyphenol epigallocatechin-3-gallate inhibits advanced glycation end product-induced expression of tumor necrosis factor-alpha and matrix metalloproteinase-13 in human chondrocytes. Arthritis Res Ther. 2009;11(3):R71.
- Tanaka M et al. Effects of plant sterols derived from Aloe vera gel on human dermal fibroblasts in vitro and on skin condition in Japanese women. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2015 Feb 20;8:95-104.