Tips to help keep your skin healthy
[00:00:00] Host Amber Smith: Here's some expert advice from dermatologist Ramsay Farah from Upstate Medical University. What can we do to reduce visible signs of aging?
[00:00:10] Ramsay Farah, MD: You know, the No. 1 thing we can do is protect ourselves from the sun, right? So that means wearing sunscreens, and starting at an early age in childhood. And, it's interesting because a lot of the studies show that quite a bit of the sun damage we see in ourselves as an adult, we've acquired in our childhood. But there's a long latency period of it, so you don't notice it immediately when you're a child playing outside, but decades after is when we start to see it on our skin. So sun protection is the No. 1 thing that we can do starting from early childhood and continuing on into adulthood.
Now the other thing, that we can do is, we can have a healthy lifestyle. And that really, in a roundabout way, not in a very direct way, but in a very real way and meaningful way, has an effect on how we age. And so, what do I mean by lifestyle changes?
Well, good sleep habits so that your hormone levels are always more uniform and not going up and down; a good diet that is high in antioxidants, which can help absorb some of what are called free radicals from developing. And free radicals are the byproduct of sun exposure and other physiologic stresses. So when the system is stressed, it produces these chemicals called free radicals, and they damage the cells, and they age the cells. And antioxidants, whether they're in your food or whether they're through topical creams, can absorb those free radicals and help decrease the physiologic stress that adds to aging.
And you know, when organisms are stressed, they also age. So if you can take those chemicals out, I think you age less. And that's what an antioxidant does. And one of the more common ones, and one of the older ones that was discovered to do this, is vitamin C. Without endorsing specific products, you want to look for things that have vitamin C in them. Other antioxidants are things like zinc or copper or selenium, even vitamin E. So all of those have antioxidants. I'm partial to vitamin C because vitamin C also helps promote collagen production. There's another broad category of plant-derived antioxidants. For example, curcumin and things like that. But in terms of the products, most of them to date contain things like vitamin C, zinc, copper, selenium, vitamin E. Those are all good antioxidants to look for.
Another category that one can find over the counter are products that contain what are called retinols. Retinols are another large category of products that I think are quite helpful. Retinols are derivatives of vitamin A, and of course vitamin A is a naturally occurring compound in nature, and we get it through our diet. But vitamin A is extremely, extremely important in our physiology. Every cell in our body has vitamin A receptors, and it does thousands of things, but it's been proven beyond any doubt that applying retinols or retinoids -- and you can think of them as being fairly equivalent. They all go to the vitamin A receptors. So retinols and retinoids have been shown to even skin pigment. They've been shown to help increase skin turnover. They've been shown to help plump up the collagen. And they've been shown to be anti-cancerous. So if you have a product that's over the counter that has a retinol or a retinoid in it, that's another category of product that you can get for anti-aging purposes.
So, I think in short: sunscreen; as healthy a lifestyle as possible with things like a healthy diet that includes antioxidants; and other general measures, like good sleep habits, stress reduction techniques. All of those, I think over the years do make a difference for sure. And the other thing I want to mention is those healthy lifestyle habits and the antioxidants in our diet, those also promote skin health by improving our immune system. And the immune system is extremely important in skin physiology and also has a function in the aging process as well.
[00:05:13] Host Amber Smith: You've been listening to Dr. Ramsay Farah from Upstate Medical University.