You'll be surprised how, as you age, decreasing production of HGH negatively impacts your skin
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If your daily meals are filled with foods that cause chronic inflammation, such as vegetable oils, margarine, red meats, white bread, or sugary, processed foods, you're not doing your skin any favors. These foods can cause inflammation in your body, which may accelerate wrinkle formation. To prevent premature aging, stock up on foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) such as flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, avocados, salmon, and and olive oil. These foods will help your skin maintain its soft and supple look.
Be sure to load up on fruits and veggies, too. Fresh produce is abundant in zinc, selenium, vitamin C, and beta carotene, all of which are key players in the body's production of collagen (which keeps skin firm), as well as protecting against free radicals. Two good options are red bell peppers and carrots. Simply slice them up for a convenient on-the-go snack you can take anywhere. Not a fan? Try upping your intake of broccoli—just 1 cup has 100 percent of the total daily recommended value of vitamin C.
Lastly, make sure you're getting enough protein—recent studies show that an insufficient amount of protein can cause tears, wrinkles, and cracks in your skin. Aim to get at least one protein-containing food (for example, eggs, lean beef or poultry, beans) at each meal.
Loss of Human Growth Hormone or HGH
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Your body produces human growth hormone (HGH) in the pituitary gland. Among its many functions, HGH works with collagen to maintain skin and muscle composition. As you age, your body's natural production of collagen slows, which can lead to looser and thinner skin. While you may not be able to stop time completely in its tracks, you can slow its effects: The results of a 2012 double-blind study on supplement brand SeroVital suggests that certain combinations of amino acids can actually stimulate the body's production of human growth hormone, which in turn, can help promote collagen production and help you maintain your firm, smooth skin. Both male and female patients given a special blend of amino acids saw a mean increase of more than six times the levels of HGH they started with at the beginning of the study. The patients also experienced faster metabolism and increased endurance. Learn more about this promising anti-aging supplement here!
Anecdotal evidence also seems promising: People who have taken HGH supplements or injections report brighter skin, better hearing, an improved sex drive, and having more energy.
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Alcohol is a natural diuretic, according to Huffington Post Healthy Living, so the more you drink, the more dehydrated you become. Besides sapping the natural moisture from your skin, excessive alcohol also triggers rosacea outbreaks and exacerbates fine lines, acne, and wrinkles, all of which instantly make you look older. You don't have to swear off the bottle altogether, but by drinking less, your liver doesn't have to work as hard to flush out toxins and impurities from your body, and when it works more efficiently, you'll see the results in your skin.
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Nothing takes its toll on your body faster than constant worry, anxiety, or stress. In fact, a 2012 study suggests that job-related stress can have a harmful effect on DNA in your cells. According to an article published by Huffington Post, researchers measured the length of DNA sections called telomeres and found that people with the most work-related stress had the shortest telomeres, causing cells to die or become damaged, which may speed up the aging process. Additionally, stress can age your brain, increase your blood pressure, and disrupt your sleeping habits, all of which combined can make you look older, as well.
It's hard for most people to reduce the amount of work-related stress they face (and if you can, we want to work where you do!), but hopefully, you can dial it down with just a few simple lifestyle tweaks. Limit the amount of caffeine you drink, avoid processed foods, which can put stress on your digestive system, and try taking up a weekly yoga or meditation session to boost your mood and calm your mind. Not your thing? Try these one of these seven stress-relieving workouts instead.
Too Little Sleep
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More than a third of American adults don't get the recommended amount of sleep per night, which can cause big-time negative effects on your health, such as weight gain, impaired immune system, decreased focus, sallow skin, and compromised memory.
If you can, try to get between seven and nine hours of sleep per night. But be careful: Sleeping too long on one side of your face can cause wrinkles and "sleep lines", according to an article by Allure. The best way to avoid fine lines and wrinkles is by sleeping on your back or purchasing smooth pillowslip cases. "Satin or silk is best," Fransesca Fusco, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical center in New York, told the magazine. "Or buy the softest, highest-thread-count fabric you can find."
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As amazing as that sun feels on your body, sunbathing or tanning is one of the worst things you can do for your skin. Besides the risk of cancer, excessive UV ray exposure weakens your skin cells and blood vessels, which causes that tanned, leathery look you see on people who've spent their entire lives outdoors. Interestingly enough, it can even make your skin more susceptible to bruising.
So how do you protect yourself? Sunscreen. All day, every day. It may seem obvious, but a recent four-year Australian study just officially confirmed what experts have long suspected: That the regular, daily application of sunscreen can fight wrinkles, reduce the risk of developing skin cancer, and keep your skin smooth and resilient.
To make sure you're maximizing the benefits of sunscreen, use about 1 ounce (that's the size of a standard shot glass) of SPF 30 sunscreen for your entire body, with a nickel-sized amount for your face, and remember to reapply sunscreen every two hours, especially on those hot summer days when you're constantly in and out of the pool.
If you skipped the sunblock and are already burned, there may not be a lot you can do, but the next time you go out, arm yourself against the sun's harmful rays by combining your daily moisturizer with a vitamin C serum, such as Youth Corrider Boost 2.0 to reverse the damage. "Studies have shown that if you put vitamin C on the skin, it somewhat prevents the skin from getting burned," Gerald Imber, M.D., a plastic surgeon practicing in New York and author of the Youth Corridor told SHAPE. "If you add vitamin E, the effect is a little bit better. And if you add melatonin to the mix, it dramatically protects your skin."
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You already know that smoking is linked to heart disease, infertility, bladder cancer, high blood pressure, and of course, lung cancer, but if none of those side effects motivate you to ditch the ciggies for good, maybe vanity will: Not only can regular smoking exacerbate skin conditions such as psoriasis, but it chronically deprives your skin cells of oxygen, which can lead to pale, uneven coloring. Smoking and secondhand smoke also trigger the breakdown of collagen and can lead to loose, saggy skin, not just on your face, but even on your upper arms and breasts. Lastly, smokers are constantly using the muscles around their mouth as they puff away, which is what causes those deep wrinkles longtime smokers often sport. Attractive, no?
Neglecting Your Eye Health
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This is a good habit to start early, says Debra Jaliman, M.D., author of Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist. "The skin around your eyes is the thinnest and has very few oil glands," she says. Pamper your eyes with a little TLC and stave off signs of aging by picking a daily eye cream that include peptides—they work to stimulate collagen production and prevent fine lines. Be sure to check the label: Other notable ingredients that reduce puffiness, lines, wrinkles, and under eye circles are caffeine, nicotinic acid (a form of the B vitamin niacin), and eyeliss.
Photo: Getty Images
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While excessive running can cause sagging known as "runner's face," (experts believe it causes more oxygen or free radical damage, which can lead to a breakdown in collagen), moderate exercise (defined as exercising at 40 to 60 percent of your maximum heart rate) is not only healthy for your weight, heart, and lungs, but it provides a rejuvenating effect on the skin. Since the damaging skin effects don't take place until you've been running or working out for 90 minutes at 70 to 80 percent of your heart rate, as long as you keep your workouts short and sweaty, you'll be able to reap the best of both worlds and get the anti-aging and weight-loss benefits.
The Wrong Makeup
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Makeup can help hide imperfections and age spots, but the using the wrong kind can make you look older. For example, some heavy foundations and powders can settle into the wrinkles around your eyes and mouth, accentuating fine lines. Swap your foundation for a lighter formula or tinted moisturizer that will provide coverage while enhancing your skin's luminosity. Make your eyes pop in the morning by lining the inside rims of your lower lids with a white eyeliner pencil (this is an old Hollywood trick! Check out more expert beauty tips here). Finally, use facial blotting tissues that will soak up excess oil without smearing or ruining your look.
Photo: Getty Images