Water is essential for the survival of all known forms of  life. Dehydration sends hundreds of people to the hospital every day and it has been estimated that a healthy body needs a minimum of two liters of water daily to avoid dehydration. Some people claim we as humans, are 65% water – others 70% water. Whatever the exact percentage, the fact of the matter is clear. We are a highly complex irrigation system that needs constant hydration. Let’s list some of the overall benefits of drinking water…

*  Appetite suppressant – when you drink the right amount of water for your body weight, natural thirst returns and hunger diminishes.

* Weight reduction – by increasing water intake, we reduce fat deposits by increasing liver and kidney function. This in turn speeds up metabolism. Remember, the larger you are the more help you need to give your body to metabolize. Go to our Past Articles section and click on our Six Ways to Detox article to find out how much water you should be drinking daily.

* Drinking water helps with fluid retention. It is Nature’s own diuretic. So check your salt intake and make sure after a long flight to have a long cool drink of water. Anything in the water – sugar, electrolytes – slows down the absorption of water, so keep it pure and simple. Soda, even teas and juices don’t count.

* Water also regulates body temperature, relieves headaches, hypertension, arthritis, kidney stones, fatigue, morning sickness.

* Very important – water relieves constipation. When the body becomes constipated, it siphons water from internal sources. By keeping the body properly hydrated we maintain normal bowel function, keep the skin clear and  prevent many serious diseases.

* Finally, water is great for improving endocrine-gland function – and helps PMS and cramping.

Recommendation for exercising:

Drink about 8 ounces of water before exercise and top up every 15 minutes you exercise.
It is best to drink cold water because it burns more calories.

Quenching the skin’s thirst

Traditionally, we have relied on oils and waxes – lanolin, mineral oil, for example – in skin care products to hydrate the skin by trapping water on the skin’s surface. The new hydrators however, come in the form of serums.  A serum can be a light emulsion or a water-soluble gel that is generally thinner in texture. Serums contain humectants and non-occlusive ingredients that attract and attach water to the skin. Hyaluronic acid, peptides, Vitamin B3 & B5 and botanical extracts are ideal for this purpose. Serums contain more active ingredients and give an extra boost – every morning and evening – to other creams and moisturizers you may be using. The double layer slows down moisture evaporation and gives the skin a healthy, lasting radiance. They are good for all skin types, fast to apply and penetrate easily.

Hydration from the inside out and outside in is clearly essential to great body and skin health. So drink up and slather on!

The youngest Baby Boomers are now hitting 44 years of age. They are many in number and seem to be fighting the aging process every step of the way. Fitter, better educated and more financially savvy, many exercise vigorously, have super healthy eating programs and strive hard to keep their lives in balance. All good stuff. Interestingly enough, the same statistics apply to a younger generation between the ages of 25-35 years. So this article applies to both demographics – the Boomers and the Bloomers – and really to anyone interested in aging well.

In the skin department the battle is particularly fierce and even seems to be defying gravity in some areas. Options for looking younger and maintaining that radiant glow still include plastic surgery although face lifts are no longer the only choice. In fact, a recent survey done by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons showed a 19 percent decrease in plastic surgery procedures between 2000 and 2005. More men are seeking the cosmetic route to fight the aging process and less invasive procedures and injectables have become much more popular with both the male and female sectors. But science and technology have recently provided many more tools that we can all include in our daily lives. Terms like cosmeceuticals, photoaging, actinic keratoses, fibroblasts, collagen, pigmentation, ATP and MMP’s seem to be popping up everywhere in the media and on product labels like plum blossoms in Springtime. So what DO they all mean and how can we best utilize them in our own efforts to look the very best we can at any age?

Let’s first summarize how we age. There are two ways – naturally or intrinsically, or through sun exposure – photoaging.

The amount of sun you have been exposed to during your life plays an enormous role in how your skin ages. Photoaging is a term we have all grown used to hearing and was first coined in1986. It describes the damage done to the skin by UV (ultraviolet) exposure. We have learned to apply and re-apply sun screens when we are outdoors for extended periods of time but skin cancer is on the rise, partly because of the depletion in the ozone layer but also because we tend to overlook how much incidental sun we are exposed to every day when we run errands and go to and from work.

Daily, liberal application of a broad spectrum sun screen containing an SPF15 is essential. Ecamsule, marketed as Mexoryl, has recently gained FDA approval and is a good chemical block. Titanium and zinc oxides are effective physical blocks that reflect both UVA and UVB rays and help to prevent the formation of premalignant lesions, hyper and hypo-pigmentation, broken capillaries and small growths called seborrheic and actinic keratoses. Earlier, I mentioned MMP’s. These enzymes are activated by sun exposure and break down collagen – in other words, MMP’s are responsible for wrinkle formation. So don’t forget that daily SPF.

Intrinsic aging starts pretty much from the time we are born! Up to the age of thirty our skin cells turn over every 25 to 28 days but after thirty, skin turnover slows significantly, as does the production of collagen and elastin in the dermis – the second and deeper layer of the skin. Collagen, which comprises 90% of the skin’s total protein, is particularly important because it keeps the skin firm and plump. Because men shave every day the mitotic rate tends to work longer and harder and because they often have more oil glands in their skin to start with, men tend to age more slowly. But the news is not all bad for women. To maintain the production of collagen in our skin, we now have an interesting array of cosmeceuticals at our disposal – products that involve a good deal of cosmetic chemistry. Ingredients like peptides, which act as messengers between the dermis and epidermis, particularly Argireline, Matrixyl and Collaxyl, produce a variety of effects from triggering hormonal or immune system activity, healing and rebuilding skin tissue and stimulating the fibroblasts in the dermis to produce more collagen. Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring substance in the human body. It is a super hydrator and especially calming for sensitive skin. ATP (adenosine tri-phosphate) is a glucose type fuel that is stored in the mitochondria of each cell and helps fuel cellular energy. Sun and general aging diminish the ability of the cells to produce ATP so by adding this ingredient to skin care products, we help to re-energize the whole process. Oxygen kills bacteria and helps to lessen the appearance of pigmentation. Retinol (Vitamin A), texturizes the skin by stimulating collagen production, treating acne and diminishing fine lines. There are also many EPF’s (environmental protection factors) available that protect our skin against pollution and the damaging effects of free radicle activity. In particular, Green Tea, Pomegranate extract, vitamin C and red wine extract. EPF’s are best used during the day. All other actives are recommended for night time application because they tend to make the skin photosensitive – more prone to sunburn. The general rule of thumb is to be consistent once you have found a skin care regime that suits your skin. Cleanse, tone, hydrate and protect during the day and cleanse, tone and treat at night.

Hormones effect men and women lifelong – puberty and menopause don’t discriminate! Throughout puberty, surging hormones can cause break-outs and acne. As we age, the production of estrogen and progesterone diminishes which can result in dryer skin, wrinkles, more break-outs, uneven skin texture and hair loss. Estimates show that skin loses up to 30% of its collagen in the first five years after menopause and without intervention collagen depletion continues to affect the tone, elasticity and turgur of the skin. Hot flashes can cause redness and inflammation and inability to sleep is often apparent during this transition, which greatly affects the appearance of the skin because it is during sleep that the skin does most of its work. Lifestyle adjustments at this time should include:

* Increased Water Intake – drink half your weight in water.

* Minimal sugar intake – to cut back on break-outs and glycation.

* Intake of healthy oils – Fish oils and/or flaxseed .

* Plenty of Sleep/Rest/Relaxation. Not only does this give the skin time to use all those great actives you are applying but it also allows the brain to reboot and the digestion to settle. By the morning your whole body is ready to go.

The body and mind loves rhythm and rituals. All of the above suggestions can create a balanced approach to life no matter what age you are and that rhythm and balance will certainly show up in your clear, glowing skin.

According to the experts, we don’t establish our circadian rhythms until we are about six weeks old. That’s about the time when babies can hold more milk in their bellies to sleep longer periods. Sleep helps us fight illness, manage stress AND keeps our skin youthful and fresh.

When we are tired, our skin will look tired too. Lines deepen and look more ingrained, the complexion looks dull and eyes are often shadowed. When we get enough rest the sleep hormone, MELATONIN, is able to go to work. It lowers blood pressure and core body temperature, regulates hormonal levels and increases our alertness the next day. Just losing one hour of sleep a night can reduce day-time attentiveness by one third.

And to add insult to injury, because the lack of sleep interferes with ghrelin and leptin – the eat and don’t eat buttons in our bodies – we tend to snack irregularly and eat more sugary and starchy foods. This leads to a spike in our sugar levels, creating glycation and inflammation. Check out my recent blog “The Not So Sweet Side of Sugar“. This can age us very rapidly, create break-outs, wrinkles, rosacea, dryness, and even depression and chronic illness.

So, if you can get eight hours of sleep a night – perfect. If not, try napping. Recent studies have established that just a short nap can clear and recharge the brain just as effectively as a longer sleep. Your eyes and skin will be brighter and you will be more productive each and every day.