Wrinkles—one of the most tell-tale signs that we are not as young and ‘inexperienced’ as we once were. While it is important to not overly fixate on an indeed just such a superficial feature (which can be bad for your emotional/mental health!), it is helpful to understand what wrinkles signify and also what you can do to minimize the negative health parallels that actually tend to coincide with their presence. So let’s talk a little bit about ageing, what wrinkles are (and what they signify), and what we can do to minimise the processes that contribute to manifesting the signs of ageing all-around (such as wrinkles!)
A Wrinkle In Time
Wrinkles are a visible weakening and indentation of the skin matrix due to elastin and collagen loss and damage. Typically first appearing around the thin skin of the eyes, then often gradually spread (and deepen) to other areas of the body and face, such as the forehead, the infamous ‘smile lines’ around the mouth, and so forth. What many people don’t realise however is that the processes that drive the elastin and collagen breakdown are HIGHLY INFLUENTIAL and thus much of what becomes visible ageing signs are not necessarily ‘inevitable ageing’ signs!
What drives wrinkles and the general ageing of skin overall?
Well a number of key processes. For the sake of time, we’ll stick to the big ones today:
1) Too much sugar!
This is going to be a surprising one for many people but yes, sugar is one of the WORST things for maintaining the integrity of your skin. Simple, refined sugars common today in so many processed and refined foods contribute massively to accelerating the process of what we call ‘glycation.’ In layman’s terms, glycation simply means the process of sugar combining with proteins to damage them and ultimate cause impairment of function, regeneration, etc. of the collagen and elastin tissues. This is a process akin to browning meat in a skillet, where the meat is hardened, shrinks in size, and isn’t the same texture as before. When our cells (which are largely made from proteins) are glycated, the collagen and elastin protein rich strands are damaged and unable to fully repair and regenerate, resulting in a breakdown of the buoyant, firm fibrous matrix they work to uphold in the skin dermal layer. So what happens? Well, simply, things sink and they furrow. And what does that leave us with? You guessed it = wrinkles!
2) Not enough hydration!
Lately there has even been some coverage on popular morning talk shows talking about how massive a difference in appearance this simple step can make. Why is this? Well for one, remember, we are mostly water! So when we are dehydrated, what is our largest organ in our body full of water that gets depleted and thus thins out and shows more wrinkles, etc.? Our skin—you guessed it! Secondly, water helps us detox, so this helps us get rids of toxins we absorb through the skin that can damage it and also helps us excrete them out of the skin. It is the vehicle, in other words, to help get these processes done! By simply drinking more water, we ensure the skin is plumper, more hydrated, and detoxing better—a win- win!
3) Excess Sun exposure!
This is a big concern for those of us especially in warm, sunnier climates as we have the opportunity to ‘rack up’ a lot of cumulative damage over the years. While sunlight arguably is good in moderation for us, too much accelerates the collagen and elastin breakdown through excessive free radical generation, which again damages this important ‘skin scaffolding’ system. So, be modest in your sun exposure, wear sunshielding clothing, visors/caps, and use non-toxic chemical sunscreens to protect yourselves!
4) Hormonal Decline!
This is a big topic but we can leave it simply as this today: without youthful levels of hormones, the rate at which our skin cells repair and regenerate declines. Thus pursuing supportive herbal therapies and/or bioidentical hormone replacement can be very helpful in curbing hormone related decline of skin youthfulness!
One key thing to note here is that we have great influence over ALL of these big contributors! So, rather than inevitably writing wrinkles off as the inevitable, it’s important to see them (or their relative absence especially) actually as signs that we are doing a good or not so good job at shielding ourselves from the onslaught of many age accelerating risk factors!