Chronological age is only one measure of the aging process and by no means an accurate one. It is obvious that individuals change differently as time goes by. Two healthy 20 year olds are likely to look almost identical if their internal organs, blood vessels and eyesight are compared. After midlife, however, no two people have aged at the same rate. Biological age is a second measure used by physiologists which measures the actual rate of aging in the cells of tissues and organs. Since the chronological and biological age measures of different persons vary considerably, we have to assume that factors such as lifestyle, physical and emotional health, diet, exercise and hygiene, as well as environmental protection have a lot to do with the rate of aging.
For many women menopause marks the real turning point in their skin. However, it is not enough to simply blame lack of the female hormone for withered skin, although estrogen is clearly very important. There are 13 other hormones lending additional support to the skin tissues. Furthermore, there are many other complex factors contributing to the overall biological and chemical changes in the tissues, some of which are not yet understood.
The modifications resulting in the characteristics of aged "withered" skin are primarily caused by a deficiency of nutritional components in the different tissues. This brings about atrophy and a general process of dehydration.
The keratinocytes in the epidermis become harder and thicker due to changes in the keratinization process. Because of a metabolic reduction in the germinitive, malphigian and granular layers, the epidermis appears looser and thinner. The elastic fibers in the dermis degenerate due to water loss, while the adipose tissue reduces in thickness thus causing a general breakdown in the skin elasticity (elastosis). Hair follicles and sebaceous glands become atrophied. A dramatic reduction in sebum secretion can cause a considerable drying of the skin surface. The sudoriferous glands remain unaltered. Muscle fibers become atrophied and circulation is reduced due to cholesterol deposits in the arterioles. Couperose or telangiectasis may occur as surface capillaries become dilated. Pigmentary disorders may result as melanin accumulates causing conditions such as senile
keratosis and senile verucca.
Most dermatologists agree today that sun exposure has a lot to do with skin aging. Dr. Albert Kligman of the University of Pennsylvania says, "Sunlight, owing mainly to its ultraviolet component abetted by infrared radiation, is a notorious enemy of good skin. Practically all of the dreary stigmata registered on the "old" face are sunshine induced...". Sunlight not only causes skin cancer, but it accelerates and accentuates all the sagging, wrinkling and yellowing of the skin we associate with age. The redness in a sunburn represents "injury", damage that will accumulate over the years.
Under the steady pull of gravity, wrinkling goes on all throughout life as we smile, frown, squint or grimace. As the skin begins to lose its elasticity, the lines resulting from sleeping, for example, take longer and longer to go away. As the connective tissue beneath stiffens and breaks down, the entire skin framework may collapse. This results in "jowls", sagging wrinkles in areas like the cheeks and the jaw where the skin has a looser fit. Dehydration lines are formed on the surface as a result of lack of moisture and fat.
Genetic factors - such as slack, weak tissues and/or fragile, thin skin - cause a tendency to earlier aging. Illness, particularly nervous disorders, sudden weight loss, and malnutrition impact the aging process to some extent. Besides sun, any exposure to harsh climatic conditions and temperature extremes should be avoided. Nicotine is not only harmful in the long run, but causes considerable esthetic damage: dehydration lines and a reduction of peripheral circulation, ultimately resulting in skin atrophy. Stress, worry and lack of rest should be considered a major obstacle to well being, beauty and longevity.
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To take care of your skin as well as the rest of your health, it is vital to drink plenty of water. Drinking enough water helps your skin to better retain moisture. It also helps to increase your overall health, which will show in the quality and healthfulness of your skin.
For healthy skin, get more vitamin D. This vitamin acts like a hormone within our bodies and is essential to a very large number of body functions, including those that regulate the immune system and heal pimples. Many people don't get enough vitamin D in their diets, so getting outside and getting sunlight so the body can produce its own vitamin D is an easy and important way to get more. You can also eat salmon, shrimp, sardines, cod, eggs or shiitake mushrooms for more vitamin D.