The Science of Ageing

Ageing is one of life’s harshest realities, and is something that we do have to accept! Ageing gracefully is possible, but that doesn’t mean sitting back and letting it happen without putting up a fight! I think we would all like to look a little younger, but much as we would love to believe there’s a quick fix wonder cream out there, I think we all know that is a myth! Dermatologists agree that limiting damage and preventing trauma before it occurs is the strategy that pays off long term. This article is going to help you understand the cause and effect of skin ageing, and hopefully help you make the right lifestyle and product choices, so settle in and make yourself a pot of green tea and read on ……..

The main ageing process is not taking place in the top layers of skin (epidermis) but several millimetres below the surface in the “Dermis”. The slow loss of dermal mass with age, and the resulting or concurrent loss of resiliency, structural integrity as well as skin density, is the most obvious indicators of skin ageing. In addition, muscle atrophy and laxness will follow, in other words saggy skin! great.

In attempts to understand and ultimately affect the ravages of ageing upon skin, we must also deal with the acute and chronic hormonal changes that occur in the lifetime of human skin. Ageing skin is categorised into two parts – Intrinsic and Extrinsic.

Intrinsic Ageing

We begin by understanding Intrinsic ageing, this is mainly composed of an individuals genetic heritage, and this will dictate the colour of the skin, eyes, hair, in fact everything that makes up the individual. Every cell in the body has the genetic blue print stored in the DNA of the nucleus. This blue print will dictate the exact replication of the cell every time it divides, based on genes that are inherited from the family gene pool. Although genes govern a lot about your skin type, when it comes to ageing, genetic tendencies interact with lifestyle choices to determine how your skin will age. If your mother and grandmother had great skin, you would probably inherited some of their good genes, but if you smoke and bake in the sun then you lower the impact of your good genes and will prematurely age.

Telomeres

Telomeres are small segments of DNA, which coat the tips of chromosomes, and are an important part of that inherited aspect of ageing. Telomeres have been compared with the plastic tips on shoe laces because they prevent chromosomes ends from fraying and sticking to each other, which would scramble an organism’s genetic information to cause cancer, other diseases and death.

These telomeres are critical in cell positioning, accuracy of replication and structural integrity. After some 80 cell divisions the telomere becomes so short that the cells stop dividing and the cell enters a state of senescence (alive but distorted). This process is associated with ageing, cancer and a higher risk of death. So telomeres also have been compared with a bomb fuse. The shortening of our telomeres appears to be the cellular clock that determines the number of times our cells divide , which in turn, appears to control the ageing of our cells. Despite our best efforts that clock keeps on ticking!

Telomerase is an enzyme that repairs damaged telomeres, and has been referred to as the secret to cell immortality. Telomerase can reset telomeres back to their youthful lengths. It is known that most human cells stop making telomerase early in life, (apart from sperm and eggs) therefore creating the biological time bomb that leads to out limited lifespan. This whole process is genetic/intrinsic, the type and life of your telomeres is inherited and out of your control. It is ironic that the only immortal cell is a cancer cell and that brings an end to our life, the reason cancer cells divide forever and do not become senescent is that they contain telomerase.

Extrinsic Ageing

Wrinkles are one of the end results of an aged skin. It would be fair to say these wrinkles and other skin conditions found in an “aged skin” could easily be reduced in severity by prevention of exposure to Ultra Violet Light and Free Radicals. This is the type of ageing you have control over! and the term “premature ageing” basically means you’ve aged before your time, because of environmental factors, when added to the inherited aspect of ageing will result in how old we look for our age.

The main environmental factor that accelerates human skin ageing is UV radiation from the sun. Sun induced ageing is called “Photo-ageing” and it is a cumulative process that depends on the degree of sun exposure and skin type. Photo-ageing can be influenced further by other extrinsic factors such as smoking, excess alcohol and poor nutrition.

The effects of Smoking

I am sure you are well aware that smoking is bad! and oxidation is one of the main reasons why, the process of the tobacco burning involved in smokers is a major source of Free Radicals (oxidants) in smokers and even passive smokers. Smoking is particularly bad for the skin for two other main reasons. The first is that it interferes with the blood flow to the capillaries – the tiny blood vessels that take oxygen and nutrients to the skin and carry away carbon dioxide and waste products. This inevitably diminishes the health and function of the skin. Smoking also enhances an enzyme in the skin called Matrix Metalloproteinase which results in collagen breakdown and diminished collagen production. The effect causes wrinkles and loss of elasticity, smokers often have quite “loose stretchy skin”. No amount of anti-ageing ingredients will undo skin damage caused by cigarettes. Smoker’s skin is also much more dehydrated that non-smokers and if you continue to smoke you will double the rate at which you age! If you still insist on smoking, then try a little damage control – Improving diet and exercise is essential and replenish the body with antioxidants that are lost by the constant bombardment of Free Radicals. Collagen is damaged by smoking and vitamin C is essential for collagen production, so replenish every day! Seriously though, it’s not just about your skin, think about your internal organs! – give up

Skin Damage: Understanding Oxidation

Free Radicals, oxidative stress and antioxidants are familiar terms in the world of health and beauty, ultimately these terms have more underlying health concerns –  ageing, functional decline, illness and fatigue, which I am sure we are all anxious to prevent, to understand more please read –  Antioxidants to the Rescue

Changes you will see in your Skin

Both Intrinsic and Extrinsic factors will result in changes to our skin’s structure and funcion, but extrinsic factors cause the more pronounced changes. Some estimates that 80 – 99 % of the ageing we see on our skin as adults is a result of these environmental influences, the exposure to UV light is the major factor.

Intrinsically aged skin is smooth and generally unblemished, there will be exaggerated expression lines on the skin but generally the skin is well preserved. If you looked under the microscope then you will see more signs of ageing, which includes some surface skin degeneration as well as a break down of dermal tissue. In direct contrast, extrinsically aged skin (such as the skin on your face, hands, neck and chest) is wrinkled, sallow in colour and has some hyper and hypo pigmentation. Skin may also show a loss of tone and elasticity, more fragile and with more broken capillaries. Under the microscope extrinsic ageing is evident in the collagen and elastin, which would be thick and damaged – this is associated with cross linking and wrinkle formation.

Wrinkles

Wrinkles are basically depressions in the skin’s surface that may be coarse of fine, depending on the depth. Wrinkle depth can vary, coarse, deep set wrinkles are described as expression lines and often appear on the forehead, outer corners of the eyes (crows feet) and as vertical lines on the side of your mouth. Fine lines are much shallower and also appear in areas of facial movement – eyes, mouth and upper lip etc.

Wrinkles occur as a result of a reduction in muscle mass and skin thickness, cross-linking of collagen and elastin and dehydration of the top layer of skin (Stratum Corneum). This results in visible wrinkles on the surface and a loss of strength and elasticity.

Skin Discoloration

Changes in skin colour are often associated with an ageing skin. Skin colour is a mixture of red, yellow and brown coloration. This is a result of red oxygenated haemoglobin, blue deoxygenated haemoglogin, yellow carotenoids, flavins and the brown melanin pigment of our skin. Hyper-pigmentation spots are due to erratic melanocyte activity that is the result of cumulative UV exposure. Also Hypo-pigmentation (white patches) can occur and the result is a mottled appearance made up of darker and lighter areas. The white areas appear due to a reduction in the number of melanocytes, there is a decline of 6-8 % per decade after the age of 30, which accounts for a more translucent skin colour as we get older. As this happens it also reduces the skin’s protective capacity against U.V exposure and along with the decline in melanin, there is also a decline in Langerhans cells, which results in a decreased immune function in the skin, and can account for the increased malignant lesions in an aged skin. When we see an increase in yellow coloration in aged skin, it is a result of a decrease in brown melanin pigment along with a decline in red and blue coloured capillaries. In the case of cigarette smokers, the toxins cause a breakdown of elastin that also contributes to the yellow colour of the skin. This overall skin discoloration if often accompanied by broken veins.

The Breakdown of Collagen and Elastin

The majority of changes that occur in our skin will happen in the Dermis, which can lose 20 – 80 % of it’s thickness as we age. This is the result of changes in Fibroblasts, the cells responsible for Collagen, Elastin adn Glycosaminoglycan biosynthesis. Not only is Collagen and Elastin produced at a slower rate which impacts the skin’s ability to repair itself, but the organization of the proteins also change and affects the structure. The breakdown of Collagen and Elastin is controlled by the activity of Matrix Metalloproteinases (MMP) enzymes, known as Collagenase and Elastase. Studies have shown that U.V radiation activates these enzymes within hours of UVB exposure, and the long term elevation of MMPs results in disorganized clumped Collagen and Elastin that is described as Photo-damaged skin – people who have spent lots of time in the sun! Changes in Elastin fibres are so characteristic in photo-aged skin that the condition is know as elastosis and is a hallmark of sun damaged skin, this is seen as loose skin that takes longer to assume it’s original position when pulled.

Dehydration

Other changes in the Dermis include the ground substance that holds the Collagen and Elastin together, this intercellular glue also undergoes age-related changes. As we age the Glycosaminoglycans such as Hyaluronic Acid diminishes at around the age of 40! The loss of Hyalruonic Acid along with a reduced barrier layer on the surface of the skin is the likely cause of dehydration and the loss of turgidity and fullness, which will add to an aged appearance.

Cell Turnover Slows

Many of the noticeable signs of ageing can be atttributed to a slow down in cell renewal rates and cell turnover time. Studies show that epidermal turnover rate slows from 30 – 50 % between our thirties and eighties! This slow down can account for a dull, rough skin surface in a maturing skin.

The Loss of Fat

Your Hypodermis is a subcutaneous layer, composed of mostly fat (adipose tissue). There is a loss of fat in the facial structure as we get older which contributes to hollows under the eyes and a lack of cushioning over the skull. In this fatty layer the total number of fat cells declines, but they annoyingly accumulate in certain areas resulting in bags under the eyes, double chins and bigger ear lobes!

The Biochemical Reactions that cause Skin Ageing

Scientists attribute the majority of the structural changes in an ageing skin to UV exposure, it has only been in recent years that they have come to understand the actual Biochemical triggers that instigate these changes. These are chemical reactions that occur within the skin and include:

  • Generation of Free Radicals, also known as Reactive Oxygen Species, UV light, Oxygen, pollutants etc will generate free radicals from stable molecules. As we have learnt earlier Free Radicals cause a cascade of damage to cells leading to inflamation, cross linking of Collagen and disease.
  • Glycation leading to Advanced Glycation End-products (AGEs). When sugar comes in contact with a protein (such as Collagen), it immediately reacts. This generates Free Radicals, which leads to a crosss-linking of Collagen and inflammation. Advanced Glycation End products are formed, and bond with a receptor on the cell to form Receptor-Age (R-AGEs) This causes inflammation, inhibits skin cell growth and contributes to cross linking of Collagen.
  • Activation of Matrix Metalloproteinases (MMPs) with a subsequent decline in Collagen biosynthesis. MMPs play a role in maintaining a healthy dermis by removing damaged Collagen and Elastin (allowing space for new healthy fibres) this is also a critical part in wound healing. UV radiation activates large amounts of MMP’s, when this happens these MMPs (Collagenase and Elastase) begin to break down the very fibres they were designed to care for, and will contributes to a breakdown of the dermal matrix and cross linking of collagen, wrinkles and stiffening of the skin.

Now we have covered the basics of how we age, you’re probably feeling a little depressed? Well it’s not all doom and goom! There is much we can do to prevent and treat an ageing skin in a realistic way, I am working on the Prevention and Treatment of Ageing Skin post at the moment, so be patient!

Anti-Inflammatory Olive Oil

Olive OilOlive trees live to be hundreds of years old, even after they have been burnt or cut to the ground – they can spring back to life! Olive Oil  is known as the “King of Oils” and has been used as far back as the Ancient Egyptians, who were among the first to use Olive Oil, regarding it as a precious gift and often entombed it alongside Pharoes, Tutankhamun was found with Olive branches crowning his head.

Olive oil is a “Monounsaturated” fat, this is the type of fat that can lower bad cholesterol and is extremely good for us, especially in the prevention of heart disease. Extra Virgin Olive Oil has the highest percentage of monounsaturated fat of any type of cooking and salad oil. It is also one of the best oils to cook with as it is highly stable at high temperatures, so ideal for the occasional fry-up!

Olive Oil is normally cold-pressed, which generally means that it is also un-refined (Just because it says “pure” on the label doesn’t mean it is un-refined), if in doubt look at the colour, the darker the oil – the more nutrients have been left behind, you also get what you pay for with Olive Oil, I always try and buy Extra Virgin or Virgin.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil comes from the first “pressing” of the Olives and has the darkest, greenest colour – this also has the most pungent smell, you either love it or hate it! Some Extra Virgin Oils cost as much as fine Champagne!

 The second “pressing” gives you Virgin Olive Oil, and is slightly cheaper but some experts still say it is just as good. Most of the very good Olive Oils now come from Spain, Greece, Italy and southern France, where the hot Mediterranean sun and rich soil is perfect for the Olive Tree (Olea Europa). The olives grown for pressing are soft and squishy, unlike the varieties grown for the table. Mediterranean countries seem to have a lower rate of cancer and heart disease and the reason for this could be their passion for Olive Oil – some even drink it by the glass as an aperitif!

One of the main reasons that Olive Oil is so healthy is its anti-inflammatory antioxidants and fatty acids that provide a crucial defence against the Free Radical damage that can affect us as we age. The main chemical constituent is Oleic Acid (a member of the Omega 9 family) which makes up around 75% of the oil, this helps Omega 3 to penetrate cell membranes and keeps them soft and supple – it is a very powerful membrane stabilizer. Olive Oil also has small amounts of Vitamin E (5mg per 100ml) which is also a very effective Free Radical Scavenger. Keep yourself healthy by regularly adding Extra Virgin Olive Oil to your diet, the bonus is youthful and supple skin.

Olive Oil is one of the longest lasting oils as it forms less of the degenerating peroxides that cause rancidity when exposed to heat or daylight, it is best stored in a cool, dark place.

Energy Boosting Trail Mix

A mix of Nuts, Seeds and Dried FruitsEating something every three hours helps keep your blood sugar levels stable during a hectic day, giving you a bit more energy to keep going. Making your own Trail Mix is one of the simplest things you can do. I make a large bowl every two weeks and keep it in sealed container in the fridge, when I am out and about I will decant a handful into a small zip-lock bag for a healthy snack, you can also add this to the kids lunchboxes.

The base for a Trail Mix is normally nuts and dried fruit. Whole Almonds are my favourite as they are one of the best sources of vegetable protein and high in mono-saturated fats and skin boosting Vitamin E, plus minerals Potassium and Magnesium.

For my Trail Mix I like to add….

  • Equal weights of Whole Almonds (with brown skins on), Pumkin Seeds, Sunflower Seeds and dried Cranberries.
  • Add any other of your favourite nuts, I like a handful of Brazil nuts and Walnuts.
  • Add in some other tasty stuff, like dried Blueberries, Raisins and dried Apricots.
  • I like a sprinkling of age defying dried Goji Berries and Pomegranate seeds.

Mix it all together and store in a sealed container until you’re ready to eat.

  • You can add a few fresh berries if you’re eating straight away – Strawberries, Blackberries and Blueberries are great.

The list is endless, so hunt around your health food shop for ideas. There are so many health benefits from eating dried fruits, nuts and seeds, not to mention the boost in energy you will feel. You can be a bit naughty if making for your kids and sprinkle some choc chips or M&M’s in as well for a treat.

Get snacking!

Madonna Intraceuticals

Madonna’s Tour Treatments

Madonna has been hooked on O2 Intraceuticals Oxygen Infusions after being introduced to them by her make-up artist Gina Brooke. Gina has been using the machine to improve stars complexions before photo shoots and events, and many of them cannot endorse publicly as they advertise many other products and brands!

[quote ]I love the treatments! And so does my face! – Madonna[/quote]

Read more

Jan Marini C-ESTAMINS

Jan Marini C-ESTAMINS are the most advanced anti-ageing nutritional supplement available today. C-ESTAMINS provide all the essential nutrients that have shown to boost energy and provide support for enhanced well-being and longevity.

These once daily packs are formulated to assist in noticeably improving the appearance of ageing and sun-damaged skin.
C-ESTAMINS contains a patented technology called “BioCell Collagen II“. BioCell has been the focus of two double blind placebo controlled studies that confirm the effects of BioCell on factors that influence skin elasticity and volume, improving skin texture and reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

One of the visible signs of skin ageing is the loss of connective tissue, this helps give skin form and structure by acting as a “filler” agent and providing volume.
Rejuvenating Hyaluronic Acid is one of the primary components that connective tissue is made up of. Hyaluronic Acid is a water filled gel and known as natures moisturiser – more than half the body’s HA is found in the skin and we start to lose this as we get to around 40 years old.
C-ESTAMINS contains every vitamin and supplement you need for you to remain youthful and prevent skin damage. You do not need any other supplement and this is reflected in the price.

  • Lessens the appearance of facial wrinkles
  • Improves the appearance of facial and body skin texture
  • Noticeably increases the skin’s moisture content
  • Improves appearance of firmness and volume
  • Increased energy and enhanced well-being

C-ESTAMINS are conveniently packaged in a sealed container containing a 30 day supply (5 tablets per packet). Take one packet daily with food and a full glass of water.

These are great for the run-up to a big event, e.g. your wedding! It takes at least 2-3 months for the results to show in your skin, so be patient!

Pomegranate Power

PomegranateThe beautiful Pomegranate is actually classed as a berry and can be between the size of a lemon and a grapefruit, it is native to southwest Asia but is now cultivated widely for it’s juice production.  The name  is derived from Latin – Pomum (Apple) and Granatus (Seeded), The seeded apple!

The important bits of a Pomegranate are the seeds inside, which are called “Arils“, these can range in colour, but most are a bright red colour. Scoop them all out and nibble on them throughout the day, or alternatively juice them for the ruby red coloured juice –  you will need at least 2-3 to get a decent cup of juice.

Pomegranate juice provides about 16% of an adults Vitamin C requirements, it’s also a good source of Vitamin B5, Potassium and potent Antioxidant Polyphenols.  It is a good source of Beta-Carotene and Polyphenol Catechins, and studies have shown it has been effective in reducing heart disease risk factors and boost Prostate health for men.

PomegreatI personally prefer the beautiful coloured juice as it’s easier than picking out all the seeds and it tastes amazing. I like “Pomegreat” juice and you can find this in most supermarkets, it also comes in different combinations like Pomegranate and Blueberry/Acai.

Remember to drink fruit juice through a straw to protect your tooth enamel!

For more information on Pomegranates, visit PomWonderful.com

How Much Water is Enough?

 

Drinking WaterThe whole drinking 2 litres of Water a day rule, originated from scientific research where they found out that this is how much fluid we actually lose, every day, through sweat and excretions. Although we lose this amount, research has shown that we don’t necessarily have to “drink” this amount to remain hydrated. I think most of us have come to the realisation that we also get water from many of our food choices and other drinks.

Drinking loads more than your body needs only results in lots of trips to the loo and in extreme cases can be very dangerous! Hyporathraemia or water intoxication can cause kidney problems and result in death – I’m talking extreme here though! So moderation is key, and small sips of fluid throughout the day is best, instead of glugging 1 litre in one go!

Food is Also a Source of Water

Some of the signs that you are dehydrated are headaches, lethargy and lack of concentration, I don’t like to let myself get to this stage of dehydration, so again it is about finding that balance and listening to your body, remember we are about 70% water. Part of your water intake can also be from your tea and coffee (I know, we have always been told they dehydrated you!), but again in moderation – up to 4 cups a day isn’t enough caffeine to cause the diuretic effect. Your food is also a huge source of water! think of all the fruit and vegetable choices, these can help make up your 2 litres a day.

Drinking Water will NOT Plump Your Skin!

As for hydrating your skin – well drinking water in huge quantities will not directly impact your skin and plump out dehydration lines! It is true our cells need to be constantly replenished with nutrients and water, but our internal organs will benefit first, and a good circulation is vital to get the water and nutrients flowing to your skin cells, exercise is the key here and will bring a rosy glow to your face! bringing nutrients and water to your skin cells.

 You are better off tackling dehydrated skin from the outside, topical products with Hyaluronic Acid are brilliant at hydrating and act as a humectant, binding more moisture to your skin which has a skin plumping effect. Also strengthening your skin’s barrier nutritionally will help prevent  Trans-epidermal-Water Loss (TEWL) through the layers of skin and will definitely have an overall effect on softness and smoothness –  try an Omega blend of 3.6.9 oils I like Udo’s Choice Omega Oil Blend and Viridian Organic Beauty Oil.

The A B C D E of Moles

It is important to know the difference between an ordinary mole and melanoma, since moles may develop into melanoma or indicate an increased risk for melanoma. An ordinary mole is normally an even colour and can be light brown, tan or a black spot on the skin. They can be raised or flat, oval or round. Moles are normally smaller than a quarter of an inch in diameter and can be present at birth or just appear during your childhood or adulthood. Moles can appear on areas of your skin that have had more sun-exposure than others.

Once a mole develops, it normally stays the same size, colour and shape for many years. Most people have moles that are almost always harmless, however it is vital to recognise the changes in your moles that may suggest melanoma is developing.

The following ABCDE system can help you tell a normal mole from one that could be melanoma, check your self and your family at least once a year and anything suspicious should be seen by your doctor immediately.

Asymmetry – Melanoma lesions are typically asymmetrical, whereas benign moles are typically round and symmetrical.

Border – Melanoma lesions frequently have uneven or irregular borders (e.g, ragged or notched edges), and benign moles have smooth, even borders.

Colour – Melanoma lesions often contain multiple shades of brown or black, whereas benign moles are usually a single shade of brown.

Diameter – Early melanoma lesions are often more than 6mm in diameter, whereas benign moles are usually less than 6mm in diameter.

Elevations or Enlargement – look out for moles that seem much bigger or more raised.

Some melanomas do not conform to the A-B-C-D-E criteria, so any supsicious ones should be examined by a Doctor/Dermatologist.

Prevent the damage with the use of a broad spectrum sun-screen at all times whilst in the sun, and do not allow your skin to burn, 3 burns in your lifetime increases you risk of skin-cancer! Slip, slap and slop it on, as the Australians say! A teaspoon of sun-screen for your face and a shot glass for your body and re-apply regularly.

For more information visit the Skin Cancer Foundation.

Dark Circles Revealed

Dark Circles under your eyes will most likely appear at some point in your life. The skin around our eyes is much thinner and more delicate than anywhere else on our body.

The Biology of Dark Circles Under eye darkness begins in your capillaries, which are very tiny blood vessels that surround the thin skin around your eyes. These capillaries are so small that Red Blood Cells have to line up to get through –  they freqently wander into the surrounding skin and our bodies have a mechanism to mop up these stray blood cells. Enzymes in your body will break down the red blood cells (including their Hemoglobin that gives them a Red colour). When Hemoglobin is broken down, the remaining components leave a dark bluish, black colour – just like a bruise, it’s the same mechanism. So leaky capillaries are responsible for the formation of dark circles, but other things can also impact this.

I actually feel more tired when I look in the mirror and see those shadows beneath my eyes, even if I am not! Surprisingly, the most common cause isn’t lack of sleep (although it definitely does have an affect) but Sinus Congestion. When your nose is blocked, the veins that usually drain from your eyes into your nose become dilated and darker, you can especially see this on someone with a very pale skin tone.

Dark circles can also be a sign of dehydration which will decrease the flow of nutrients to the capillaries, so evaluate your fluid intake. In Chinese Face Diagnosis the under eye area represents the Kidney area – they say darkness with a bluish colour is due to an imbalance in Kidney energy.

Unfortunately for some, dark circles can be hereditary and part of their natural genetic pigment. Pigmentation caused by sun-damage can be a cause for some people, so always make sure you wear an adequate SPF around the eyes and wear some BIG sunglasses. The skin around our eyes is far more sensitive to the sun as it is very thin with less oil glands, also sun-damage will degrade Collagen and Elastin and cause premature wrinkles and loose skin.

Ageing will make the appearance of Dark Circles worse, this is because the skin becomes much thinner and our skin becomes more translucent as we get older due to the decrease in Melanin Pigment, this makes the blood vessels show up more. Conditions that cause fluid retention (Kidney, Liver, Heart and Thyroid diseases) or certain medications that cause blood vessel dilation may be a factor – check with your doctor.

Allergies can make your eyes itchy and rubbing the delicate skin around your eyes can cause dark circles. Smoking will also have an impact as it restricts oxygen flow to the capillaries.

What Can We Do?

Changes to your lifestyle can have a positive effect on non-hereditory dark circles, here’s my tips….

  • Be sure to get plenty of sleep and STOP smoking!
  • Supplements containing Vitamin C, Pycnogenol, Grapeseed extract all contain antioxidant compounds that may help strengthen blood vessels, this may also help prevent broken capillaries.
  • Topical ingredients containing Horse Chestnut, Vitamin K, Gingko, Witch Hazel and Green Tea may also strengthen the delicate eye tissue.
  • A cold compress is a quick fix that helps constrict blood vessels and normalise tissue colour. Only Temporary, but makes you feel better! I like chilled plain teabags or Cucumber slices. I also use a Yuroll Eye Roller – the cooling Jade feels lovely and it will boost circulation and Lymph Drainage.
  • Feast on the wonderful varieties of  Super Berries – Cranberries, Blueberries, Blackcurrants – wash down with a large pot of Green or Black Tea. The Antioxidants they contain may help fortify blood vessels, also drink plenty of water and cut down on Salt, which can make dilated blood vessels worse.
  • A good concealer is worth its weight in gold! I like “Anti Fatigue Concealer” By Terry – this is brilliant at disguising dark circles without looking heavy, it also contains Hyaluronic Acid to hydrate the delicate skin.
  • Dermalogica Total Eye Care  is also a good treatment – it has a slight Pink colour that disguises darkness. It also has an essential SPF 15 to protect against sun-damage.

Perfectly Sweet Xylitol

Perfect Sweet - XylitolBy now, I think we are all well aware of the effects of excess sugar in our bodies, not to mention the effects on our skin with the cross linking of Collagen and inflammation that leads to wrinkles and premature ageing.

Xylitol is natures alternative to sugar and is also known as wood or Birch Sugar, it has been used to sweeten food and drinks for many years. The strange name comes from the Greek word “Xyl” which means wood, as in Xylophone, this is because it was first extracted from the bark of Birch trees after the 2nd world war, when sugar was in very short supply.

Xylitol is a 100 % naturally occurring sweet tasting substance, and it looks and tastes exactly like normal sugar, but has various healthy benefits. It is found in other things apart from the Birch tree, including – Raspberries, Plums and Strawberries and even our own bodies make small amounts.

Here are the plus points to switching from sugar to Xylitol!

  • Xylitol provides an alkaline environment that helps fight plaque and cavities, this is why it is many chewing gum and oral health products.
  • There are 40 % less calories compared with sugar, extra calories will get stored as fat.
  • There are 75 % less carbohydrates compared with sugar, so you can add sweetness without adding too many extra carbs!
  • Xylitol has the lowest G L  (Glycaemic Load) of any sugar alternative.
  • Diabetics can enjoy Xylitol with a trace effect on Insulin levels as it  releases it’s energy slowly.
  • You use exactly the same amounts as you would for sugar.
  • You can use it in baking and cooking.
  • Xylitol has a G. I (Glycemic Index) of 7, which is 10 times lower than sugar. The Glycaemic Index scores all foods on a scale of 1 – 100 according to how quickly they release glucose into your bloodstream. Foods with a lower G I value releases Glucose into your blood slower and provides steadier energy levels.

I have been a fan of a low Glycaemic Index way of eating, and for me is a sensible, healthy way of enjoying food! Not only that, but by eating low-GL you can reduce your risk of some of the most prevalent diseases of the 21st century – diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. Although Xylitol is a far healthier option than sugar, and without the chemicals of artificial sweeteners, just replace your normal sugar intake don’t double the amount just because it has less calories!

Perfect Sweet is a trade name and is made of 100%  Xylitol extracted from Birch Wood, you can buy this in selected health food stores.