Part 1 What is skin?
Our skin is the largest of the body’s organs –It has a lot of work to do as the prime defence barrier between our body & the environment. Your skin reflects your internal health. We all know what a healthy person looks like – they glow from within with radiant, smooth translucent skin. Inflammation, puffiness, scaling or lumps and bumps indicates your body is having problems.
The way your skin looks has everything to do with its design and the nutrients it needs. To keep your skin looking and feeling fabulous it’s a good idea to understand its makeup so you can target problems effectively and change your skin from dull and wrinkled or spotty and oily to skin that always looks beautiful – refreshed and glowing, appearing lit from within.
Layer upon Layer
The skin is made up of three layers, the outermost being the epidermis. Here, cells called keratinocytes form several layers that constantly grow outwards as the exterior cells die (keratin) and flake off and thus, the skin is renewed every 28 days or so. That’s why you can change the way your skin looks in less than a month! It also contains melanocytes that provide colour to your skin & Langerhans cells – immune cells that identify specific antigens and prevent disease.
The epidermis is connected to a deeper skin layer known as the dermis, which gives the organ its strength, structure and elasticity thanks to fibre’s of collagen and elastin, both natural proteins which require a regular supply of amino acids to remain in good condition.
The skin’s base or inner most layer is the subcutis or Hypodermis and is mostly used to store fat (adipose cells) which is laid down as a food reserve in case of a food shortage as well as providing cushioning and insulation. It also contains fibroblasts and macrophages, which are immune cells that keep your skin free of infection. They can however get inflamed leading to puffiness, acne or psoriasis – the right nutrients can help them work properly and reduce the damage caused by inflammation.
These 3 vital layers play varying roles in preventing wrinkles, dry skin, acne and signs of ageing.
There are 3 main components in the skin, all proteins that play a role in preventing wrinkles – keratin, collagen & elastin.
Keratin – extremely strong protein found in skin, hair, nails that makes the skin waterproof whilst restricting the entry of chemical & pathogens. It helps prevent sagging & wrinkling. Too many dead cells dulls your skins appearance which is why facial scrubs are needed to remove the build up.
Collagen – the structural scaffolding that surrounds cells to give and support the cell shape. It holds the dermis together and supports the epidermis. Now you know why it is essential for tight, smooth beautiful skin! Collagen makes up 75% of our skin. A breakdown in collagen or decrease in production leads to wrinkles and aged-looking skin. Vitamin C is a co-factor in the production of collagen.
Elastin – is a coil like protein that helps skin resume its shape after it has been poked or prodded. With age, the body produces a hormone called DHT, which inhibits elastin production. Decreased elastin results in soft, less firm skin around the eyes, jawline and neck. Iron has been linked with elastin production so eat those iron-rich foods like spinach, dried fruits and red meat.
See Skin 101 Part 2