Tips for keeping your skin looking its best
Healthy skin can not only be an indicator of good health, but it can also make us feel better about ourselves. Record sales of anti-aging products can attest to that. However, when it comes to skin health, what you put in your body can be more important than what you put on your skin.
Health inside and out
Skin protects you from bacteria and viruses that can cause infections, helps you sense the outside world, such as whether it is hot or cold, wet or dry, and regulates your body temperature. That seems like reason enough to keep it healthy!
Experts suggest a balanced diet to get the foods you need for healthy skin -- and plenty of water, too. But some nutrients in particular seem to play a more important role in skin health.
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Vitamin A can help maintain and repair skin tissue; one of the best sources is low-fat dairy products.
A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that Vitamin C, along with lower intake of fat and carbohydrates, is associated with better skin-aging appearance. Almost all fruits and vegetables contain Vitamin C.
Essential fatty acids
Essential fatty acids, such as those found in salmon and walnuts, help keep cell membranes healthy, which in turn hold moisture in cells. This can help keep skin looking younger and healthier. Fatty acids also help protect against inflammation that can harm skin cells.
Other foods that may help the skin include avocados, olive oil, green tea, berries, beans and more. Remember, the key is a balanced and healthy diet.
Put the kibosh on these activities that can render skin dry, wrinkled or otherwise damaged:
- Sunbathing: Over time, sun exposure can cause wrinkling, age spots, rough skin and even cancer. If you have to be in the sun between the hours of 10 A.M. and 4 P.M., cover up or use sun screen (SPF 15 or higher ).
- Smoking: Smoking can age your skin and contribute to wrinkles. If that's not enough, it's also the number one preventable cause of death.
- Overuse of products: Too many soaps, antiperspirants and perfumes can dry out the skin.
- Stress: Stress can make skin more sensitive and result in skin conditions such as acne.
- Hot showers and strong soaps: Hot water can strip your skin of oils, drying it out. Take short showers in warm water.
- Junk food: Eventually, what you eat is going to show on your skin. Eat a balanced diet to get the nutrients you need for healthy skin.
From the Fitness Desk...
Tips for finding a good workout partner
Sticking to an exercise program can be difficult, but the prospect becomes a little less daunting when you have someone to share it with. Having an exercise buddy, fitness buddy or exercise accountability partner can help you stay motivated and consistent.
Finding your "bud"
An exercise buddy can be a friend, spouse, co-worker, neighbor -- anyone, really. If you have trouble recruiting someone you know, try posting a "want ad" at your gym, church or local parks and recreation department. You may also be able to find an exercise buddy online.
Choosing a compatible exercise partner
Just like any companion, you and your exercise partner should be compatible. If not, neither of you will gain the benefits of the partnership. Keep these tips in mind while selecting that perfect exercise partner:
- Make sure you have similar goals
If you want to run a marathon and your partner is content with a leisurely stroll, it's probably not going to work out. Discuss both partners' motivations and goals to ensure they mesh before starting out.
- Assess your commitment levels
If one partner is more committed than the other, the more serious of the duo won't get as much out of the partnership.
- Sync your schedules
You won't gain much benefit if you can't get together with your buddy very often. Select a partner whose schedule syncs with your own.
Wichita Tips for Healthy Living...
Relieve stress through better breathing
Here's a recipe for fame and wealth: Find something that everyone does everyday, without even thinking about it, that's proven to relieve stress. Make this "something" easy and pleasant while it rids the body of toxins at the same time. If you could bottle "it" you'd be a gazillionaire, but it's free: breathing.
To be more specific, this anti-stress miracle is deep breathing -- the kind where you fill your lungs deep down, hold, and then slowly exhale. Sure, most of us know that deep breathing gives a feeling of relaxation but did you know that "Breathe Deeply" is the very first key to good health. It's good to know all the positive ways that deep breathing can promote health and wellness.
Science has proven that deep breathing affects the heart, the brain, digestion and the immune system. Recently, a doctor in the Cleveland Clinic's Center for Integrative Medicine summed up modern research on deep breathing this way: "You can influence asthma; you can influence chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; you can influence heart failure." Studies are showing benefits to people with these and other conditions who practice breathing through exercises.
How breathing counteracts stress
The body's stress response is actually designed to be an asset. Our "fight-or-flight" natural programming speeds the heart rate and diverts blood away from the gut and to the muscles so we can run away. It constricts the pupils of our eyes so we can focus on an attacker. It dilates the small branches of the lungs to increase blood oxygenation, makes us breathe faster and converts energy stored in the liver into fuel for strength and stamina.
This stress response is a good thing when it keeps us safe. When we're under chronic stress, though, we're bombarding ourselves with chemicals and hormones that can damage our health in many ways.
So, while rapid breathing is part of the stress response, slow, deep breathing works the opposite way: It triggers our "relaxation response" and helps us calm down.
One easy relaxation technique
To get the most benefit from deep breathing, try this routine:
- Lie down on a flat surface.
- Place a hand on your stomach, just above your navel.
Place the other hand on your chest.
- Breathe in slowly and try to make your stomach rise a bit.
- Hold your breath for a few seconds (not for so long it's uncomfortable).
- Breathe out slowly and feel your stomach fall.
Once you know what deep breathing feels like, you'll find it easier to practice it in an office chair, in a car or almost any place or time when you feel that familiar tightness of stress. Of course, other wellness essentials apply here, too: Drink water, eat smart, enjoy exercise and get enough sleep. Then, you'll be physically prepared to practice the basics of emotional and spiritual wellness, too.