Have you experienced hair loss? Are you worried about wrinkles? Do you have dreaded adult acne?
As we age, we lose the collagen — what binds our cells together — that gives our skin its resilience and elasticity. In our 20s, our skin structure resembles smooth silk, but by the time we're 50, it becomes more coarse and we've lost 30% of our collagen fibers. This is a natural process, but stress can speed up the process and take a toll on our looks.
The human body is designed to experience stress and react to it. When a threat is perceived, our adrenal glands are signaled by the pituitary gland to elevate cortisol. However, our bodies aren't designed to be under chronic stress and the cumulative effects of elevated levels can increase inflammation, compromise the immune system and of course, speed up the aging process.
Fortunately, there are several everyday stress-busting foods that we can eat to help combat this!
Stress thins our hair and makes it brittle. To boost limp, lifeless hair, turn to minerals such as iron and zinc. Protein is also essential for tissue repair and the construction of new tissue. Oysters and lean meats like bison and turkey will supply the body with the minerals and protein it needs. Cortisol is the enemy of collagen, so eat organic protein when you're feeling stressed out.
I'm sure we can all think of someone in our lives who's aged dramatically after going through a stressful event such as death, divorce or some other kind of trauma. Changes to our skin are usually the first signs of aging we notice. Stress has a damaging effect on our skin, one that's easily readable.
To reduce cortisol, load up on vitamin C-rich foods such as strawberries, citrus fruit, broccoli and bell peppers if you can tolerate them. Hemp hearts are full of manganese, which works synergistically with vitamin C to help switch on collagen production.
When we're stressed out, our mast cells become aggravated and explode with histamine. This leads to redness, irritation and inflammation. Histamine is regulated by our immune system and sugar compromises our immunity, so it's important to avoid the sugary snacks and sweet treats. More specifically, sugar has been proven to slow down white blood cell production, our key immune system player.
In some cases, adult acne can also be blamed on stress-induced hormone imbalances. The other culprit may be a food allergy. Supplementing with a high quality fish oil and eating apples, broccoli and turmeric supports the liver and will help regulate hormones. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil regulate hormone-induced sebum production (sebum is a natural substance that the body produces to keep the skin and hair supple).
Stress causes the sebaceous gland to produce more sebum and in excess, it can build up. Apples support the liver because they contain calcium D-glucarate which helps the organ break down toxins and detoxify harmful chemicals and metabolic by-products. It also decreases resorption of estrogen from the gastrointestinal tract.
Finally, broccoli contains indols, compounds that are essential to healthy estrogen balance, and the curcumin in turmeric is packed with anti-inflammatory agents that have protective and regenerative properties for the liver.
Now you can see how beauty truly comes from within! The secret to achieving the vibrant hair and glowing skin that has long been associated with good health is to make stress-busting foods a regular part of your diet.