We all know that we need to manage stress to ensure our health. Whether it’s managing blood pressure, ensuring a strong immune system or averting anxiety and depression, increased stress is guaranteed to have an adverse effect.
However, stress also plays a key role in ageing and the appearance of your skin can worsen as stress accelerates the ageing process. Managing your stress on a daily basis will affect how your skin looks and feels.
The body’s stress response does not differ greatly according the type of stress. For example, the body reacts in the same way to stress caused as a result of a life-threatening situation, which is commonly known as the “fight or flight” response, as it does to the stress due to work arguments or deadlines or even being stuck in a traffic jam. In all cases, the stress response will release the stress hormone Cortisol, which in turn activates the release of glucose into the blood stream. This will be used for energy to “flee”. In doing so, it also ensures that essential nutrients are directed to the vital organs, prioritizing the heart, brain and lungs to assist with this.
When there is ongoing lifestyle stress, in other words, chronic stress, this is happening much of the time and the skin is one of the first areas to show the effects. Deprived of essential nutrients over time, the skin’s renewal process slows down, resulting in a dull and lack-lustre appearance. Stress and cortisol release trigger an inflammatory response, producing free radicals that lead to cell damage and the breakdown of collagen. This affects the skin’s cell integrity reducing firmness, plumpness and elasticity as well as its ability to lock in moisture, leaving it more prone to the development of fine lines, wrinkles and dryness. This also makes the skin more vulnerable to the effects of the environment, including the harmful effects of pollution and sun damage.
Managing stress is key to effective age management and lifestyle measures including taking the time to relax, enjoy hobbies and pastimes, exercise and good quality sleep will go along way to reduce stress. However, addressing your diet alongside managing these lifestyle factors is crucial.
Key dietary considerations include:
- Increasing nutrient status by eating up 7-10 portions of vegetables and fruits per day (max 2 fruits). Choosing dark green leafy vegetables as well as other brightly coloured choices such as broccoli, tomatoes, berries and oranges will ensure adequate vitamins, minerals and in particular antioxidants to combat the effects of stress. Try this
- Avoid severe blood sugar fluctuations by reducing refined sugars, fizzy drinks, cakes, sweets, biscuits. These energising bliss balls are an ideal slow releasing snack
- Ensuring adequate hydration; around 8 glasses per day
- Eating fibre rich foods such as oats, beans and pulses to remove harmful toxins Try this delicious Butterbean and Tomato Bruschetta to boost your fibre intake
- Increasing the intake of antioxidants with a supplement to help to combat the harmful effects of the oxidative stress.