We live in a society that doesn’t exactly promote optimal health and we are seeing our biological ages far surpass our chronological ages. Basically, we are aging faster than ever. We see in this in terms of susceptibility to chronic illness but, we also see this expressed externally- in the form of aesthetics. Research is highlighting that this modern phenomenon of accelerated aging is attributed to stress.
Our modern-day quick fix to anti-aging is Botox and expensive, time consuming skin care routines. It’s not that there isn’t a time and place for these practices, but these conventional interventions are known as a band aid solutions. They provide short term results while counter intuitively speeding up the antiaging process. What they don’t do is address the physiology that underlies aging- such as the physiology of stress.
We are all familiar with the mental agitation and the physical discomfort that accompanies feelings of stress, but the often-overlooked side effect is its silent effect on aging. Stress impacts skin health in profound ways. The presence of stress promotes lines, wrinkles and dark circles while decreasing the overall firmness of the skin. Beyond aging stress can contribute to skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, rosacea and atopic dermatitis. So what is it about stress that allows it to influences skin so negatively?
Stress and the Skin
Stress is characterized by elevated levels of cortisol. The important thing to note about cortisol is it is catabolic, meaning it breaks tissues down- such as the skin.
Skin loses elasticity and wrinkles form when collagen breaks down faster than it can be produced in the body. Therefore, markers of aging such as wrinkles and reduced firmness can be thought of as a “collagen deficiency”.
Collagen production decreases throughout the lifespan, but age isn’t the sole factor that determines rate of collagen synthesis and breakdown. In fact, lifestyle factors, such as levels of stress have a substantial influence on this process.
High levels of cortisol breakdown collagen and they reduce the rate at which the body can produce collagen.
How Stress Speeds up External Aging
1. Reduces Available Nutrients
Collagen production is dependant on several nutrients. The stress processes also used several nutrients and there is considerable overlap in nutrients used to initiate the flight or fight response and those needed to build collagen.Stress therefore steals the building blocks of collagen, inhibiting its production.
2.Uses up Vitamin C
Vitamin C is needed in the production of collagen- without vitamin C, collagen actually cannot be made. The stress response requires a lot of vitamin C, and when stress is in the picture there simply isn’t enough vitamin C in the body to be allocated to non-essential processes such as collagen production in the skin.
3. Promotes Insulin Resistance
Through a complex stream of actions, stress increases insulin resistance. A characteristic of insulin resistance are high levels of glycation which basically translates to high levels of sugar making a home in skin fibers. When this happens, the sugars make both collagen and elastin rigid. This makes the skin look older than it is. Glycation is associated with increased depth of wrinkles and a sagging effect in the face.
4. Up regulates Free Radical Production
Lastly, stress increases the amount of free radicals in the the body. This has a two-pronged effect on skin aging. Free radicals directly attack collagen, breaking it down. Next, free radicals use up antioxidants which are needed to protect delicate skin tissues such as collagen and elastin.
Reducing Stress for Skin Care
The most profound thing you can do for your skin care routine is reduce stress. While it may not be realistic to remove the stressors from our lives, we can implement lifestyle shifts that help to reduce the stress response such as spending more time in nature, taking up yoga or breathing and ensuring a good night’s sleep is had. In addition to this, incorporating supplements can help reduce the biological effects of stress, and halt the aging processes.
In times of stress supplementing with vitamin C is paramount. When animals are under stress, they actually produce 13x the amount of vitamin C than they do under normal conditions hinting at it’s importance. Since we need vitamin C to make collagen, having saturated plasma levels ensures there is enough to be allocated to collagen synthesis.
Next, of course we want to reduce the amount of cortisol in our system. Reducing cortisol exerts a skin protective effect and preserves collagen to keep skin firm and decrease the rate at which wrinkles both form and deepen. Cortisol adapt is a blend of adaptogenic herbs that clears cortisol and stops the body from producing it in excess amounts which happens when we feel stress.
Advanced Vegan Collagen
An integral part of a skin care routine, stress or no stress is to ensure that we are providing the skin with enough nutrients to stay healthy. Getting these nutrients through diet is the gold standard- however when we are under stress using supplementation to close the gap is recommended. Our advanced vegan collagen contains all the nutrients needed for collagen production. It also contains hyaluronic acid which helps keep skin plump and moisturized. Advanced vegan collagen is an insurance policy for collage protection during times of stress.
When it comes to skin care, external measures can be helpful in the short term, but the real secret to anti-aging is to optimize physiology and collagen production. Leave a comment and let us know your favorite skin care supplement!
Author: Lisa Kowalyk, CNP, B.KIN