My recent article on the new eczema treatment that uses biologics got me thinking more about inflammation. Biologics are a new branch of medicine that work on inflammation, the root cause of many illnesses, as well as visible signs of aging. While biologics haven’t led us to an anti-aging injection yet, there are ways to harness inflammation in order to keep on the right side of aging.
People often describe themselves as having inflamed skin and this is a bit misleading. Inflammation is the body’s response to some kind of wound or trauma. It is a signal to start the healing process, which is dubbed acute inflammation. In fact, some cosmetic treatments, such as peels or laser treatments, deliberately trigger this acute inflammatory response. Controlled and short-term, it initiates the skin’s rejuvenation process. It is critical, however, to replenish with skin-building antioxidants and growth factors.
This is because inflammation (which is very complex) can also be destructive. Chronic inflammation, or a long-term autoimmune response, can lead to the immune system attacking normal tissues. During this process, the scary-sounding Nuclear Factor Kappa B (NF-κB) remains active instead of regulating its level. According to an article in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, “chronic inflammation appears strongly linked to many preventable and treatable skin diseases and conditions such as visible skin aging.” This article concludes that skin care regimens for aging should become more focused on reversing and preventing chronic inflammation.
Here at Truth In Aging we’ve long known that anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-rich nutrients and ingredients are our greatest allies. Keep scrolling to learn what to look for on the labels of your skin products, as well as at the grocery store.
Gotu kola (centella asiatica)
Often referred to as one of the “miracle elixirs of life,” this long-life supportive botanical has powerful anti-inflammatory properties. It contains certain chemicals that reduce inflammation and blood pressure, and research shows it can also stimulate collagen production and wound healing.
Growth factors (EGF)
As well as stem cells promote skin healing and stimulate cell proliferation. Applied topically, evidence shows certain stem cell-derived growth factors help balance inflammation, providing strong anti-aging and aesthetic benefits.
This is a naturally-derived amino acid. Numerous studies have demonstrated the antioxidant and cytoprotective capabilities of EGT against a wide range of cellular stressors, according to the BBA. In skin care products, look for the derivative called thioneine.
This antioxidant counteracts the effects of free radicals and also prevents glycation. It exhibits anti-inflammatory activity and even appears to help tissue regeneration.
Omega-6 essential fatty acids
Those like linoleic and oleic acid are known to alleviate symptoms associated with sensitivity and inflammatory skin, while gamma linolenic acid (GLA) is needed to maintain a healthy balance of anti-inflammatory signaling molecules in the body.
These proteins signal cells to activate tissue growth factor (TGF) and collagen production.
It’s a necessary antioxidant with many proven benefits to the skin and the precursor to collagen.
Anti-Inflammatory Foods and Lifestyle Tips
An antioxidant-rich diet is also extremely helpful. Load up on berries (strawberries and blueberries) and dark leafy greens like spinach, kale and broccoli. The vitamin E in the latter is thought to protect the body from pro-inflammatory molecules called cytokines. Also consider adding more fiber to your diet in the form of whole grains; studies have shown it helps reduce levels of the C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation.
It is also essential to cut down on sugar, which leads to glycation, and pro-inflammatory foods like refined carbs, fats (not the good kinds found in fatty fish and olive oil, both of which you should include in your diet), processed meats and fried treats.
Finally, monitor your lifestyle and consider making tweaks. Exercise boosts the release of endorphins, which are anti-inflammatory hormones. Be sure to get at least seven hours of sleep a night, as this is when the body naturally repairs itself. Scientists are also getting interested in the brain-skin connection, which connects stress, inflammation and aging. Find zen in meditative practices or simply spending more time with people who make you happy.