The Benefits of Green TEA for Aging Skin
Author: Kim Dykeman, Millennia TEA Business Manager
What emotion did that word just evoke for you? If your over 30, my guess is it was a negative one. Take heart! Aging is a normal, natural process, and we are all doing it. What most of us want though, is to age well. To have healthy minds and bodies, to look and feel our best well into our senior years. Having a generous number of candles on your birthday cake shouldn’t signal the end of anything, only a new year full of opportunities and adventure.
WHAT CAUSES OUR SKIN TO AGE?
We all know the symptoms of aging skin, and they begin ever so subtly. Most of us are all too aware of the common ones -- lines and wrinkles, a bit of dullness and uneven skin tone, a general loss of firmness, and dark spots (also referred to as AGE spots). There is a larger story as to why this happens to our skin as we age, but without going into too much detail, here are a few well known contributing factors (beyond the normal apparent one, time).
Exposure to sunlight is the single biggest culprit in aging skin, as well as the leading cause for skin cancer. UV rays are the main creators of free radicals in skin (free radicals are molecules with an odd number of electrons). Free radicals are not ALL bad, but it is crucial to have a balance between these molecules and antioxidants, without that balance, free radicals damage the cells of the skin through oxidative stress (a state that occurs when there is an excess of free radicals in the body’s cells). Free radicals have a bit of a domino effect, and eventually disrupt and damage the whole cell. UV light, (and the free radicals that it creates) damage fibers in the skin, and over time, exposure to these rays can make the skin less elastic, affecting the underlying connective tissue, resulting in more lines and wrinkles.
Smoking speeds up the normal aging process of your skin, affecting the collagen and elastin, and contributing to wrinkles and other changes to the appearance of your face. This takes place mainly because many of the components of tobacco smoke (and the over 4000 chemicals) are oxidants--agents that promote chemical reactions with oxygen. Therefore, they also increase the by products of these reactions, which are…. wait for it…. Yes, you guessed it…. free radicals.
Alcohol is known to dehydrate and cause inflammation. Too many alcoholic drinks (especially cocktails and wines, which are high in sugar) can crystallise your skin cells, a process also known as glycation, which leads to visibly deflated skin, damaged cells, and a duller complexion. Not to mention the effects of inflammation (Blotchiness, puffiness, acne, rosacea, and redness or flushing). There is also research that shows that excess sugar in the bloodstream stimulates the generation of free radicals.
We all know that a healthy balanced diet is crucial to the ability to fight disease, and maintain good overall health, but we forget sometimes that our skin shows the effect of diet just as much as internal organs and systems do. After all, the skin is our largest organ. In general, the impact of a bad diet (high fat—the bad kind, and sugar, as well as processing methods) affects aging in much the same was as the other factors listed, by causing oxidative stress (to remind you, this is an excess of free radicals in the body’s cells) which in turn produces inflammatory damage.
WHAT CAN WE DO TO AGE GRACEFULLY?
Given what we know about the common factors that negatively affect our skin, there are a few obvious changes we can make, and habits we can form that will help us to look and feel our best.
- Protect our skin from the sun. Wear sunscreen, hats, and UV protection sunglasses…. You get the picture. Vitamin D is great (most research sites that 10-30 min of sun at midday is sufficient), sun damage is not great.
- Don’t smoke, and if you do, Quit. I don’t state this lightly, and I appreciate that addiction to cigarettes is not something that is easy to shake, but try, and keep trying. Your whole body will thank you for it, and your face will show it.
- Do not overindulge in alcohol and keep the sugary drinks to a minimum. You can check out Canada’s low risk alcohol drinking guidelines (ccsa.ca) to see how to minimize long term health risks by decreasing your alcohol consumption.
- Adapt a diet that is plant based, Mediterranean inspired or similar, and significantly reduce the amount of sugar in your diet. What that means is simply; lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, olive oil, nuts (good fats!) fish and poultry (less red meat), and the best part, a moderate (think 3oz with your meal) amount of red wine.
HOW CAN GREEN TEA HELP?
Green tea contains a powerful antioxidant called EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) that fights DNA damage from UV rays to help prevent skin cancer. That means it’s also a potent anti-aging ingredient that combats signs of aging when ingested or applied topically.
The polyphenols in green tea also help to neutralize the free radicals that accelerate your skin’s aging process and are increased by an unhealthy diet, smoking, and environmental factors such as pollution. Think about it in terms of balance, antioxidants combat those excess free radicals that have accumulated in your system over time.
Green tea is also known for its anti-inflammatory properties, and can help reduce irritation, redness and swelling.
Along with the powerful antioxidant EGCG, green tea is chock full of:
Vitamin C (helps with healthy skin and collagen formation and is an antioxidant)
Vitamin B2 (Maintenance of healthy skin)
Vitamin E (an antioxidant and helps promote cell regeneration)
And a host of other components that are valuable to our health.
There is an emerging field called nutricosmetics, an area in dermatology referring to the use of nutrition and nutritional supplements for skin health. Basically, they work from the inside to promote beauty from within. Dr Patricia Farris, a dermatologist and clinical assistant professor at Tulane University School of Medicine was quoted as saying “There is research that suggests that a healthy diet with specific nutrients can help reduce the signs of aging”.
Statistically we are living longer, but the question remains are we living better?
Can we age better, healthier, and look and feel our best? Science is pointing to the fact that we can, and we are. The key being, to look not just at the external, but look to the internal, to what we fuel our bodies with, and how we minimize the damage done to our cells as we age.
Attitude also plays a part in our feeling and looking youthful. I personally believe we should always remember that aging is a gift, and not all of us are granted that gift. We should savour and enjoy every day, and never stop looking at life as an adventure.
“Aging happy and well, instead of sad and sick, is at least under some personal control. We have considerable control over our weight, our exercise, our education, and our abuse of cigarettes and alcohol. With hard work and/or therapy, our relationships with our spouses and our coping styles can be changed for the better. A successful old age may lie not so much in our stars and genes as in ourselves.” ~George E. Vaillant
Get Older. Own it 😉