Skin Autophagy: 10 Strategies to Rejuvenate Your Skin
Skin autophagy is a fascinating topic that I will dive into in detail in this article. Your skin is the largest organ that serves as a protective layer and performs essential tasks for your body. The health of your skin is essential not only for your looks but for your overall health.
Your skin protects you from viruses, bacteria, and ultraviolet light (UV) from the sun. With the help of the sun, your skin produces vitamin D to serve essential functions in your body. It also helps to keep your body at an optimal temperature and help your body react to important changes around and inside you.
In this article, you will learn about your skin’s anatomy and physiology, things that can damage your skin, symptoms of skin inflammation, foods that can lead to skin damage. You will learn what autophagy is and why is it important for skin health. Finally, I will share 10 powerful strategies to rejuvenate your skin naturally.
Skin Anatomy and Physiology
Your skin is your largest organ that serves as a protective barrier. Its health and surface are determined by dietary, lifestyle, and environmental factors. To understand how to keep your skin healthy, it is important to first understand its anatomy and physiology.
The three major parts of your skin include the hypodermis, dermis, and epidermis. Other parts of the skin include the sebaceous glands, elastin, collagen, dermal-epidermal junction, sebum, and blood vessels.
The epidermis is the outer layer of the skin. It acts as a protective barrier between your body and the environment. The stratum corneum is the outermost layer of the epidermis made up of flat, dead skin cells called corneocytes to offer an effective buffer. The basal layer is the bottom layer of the epidermis where your pigments are being produced.
The dermis is the middle layer of your skin. It serves as your skin’s operation center that is the home of a variety of nerves, glands, enzymes, essential proteins, and blood cells. The dermis also contains collagen and elastin to provide support and structure.
The hypodermis is located below the epidermis and the dermis. It is made up of fat, nerves, and blood vessels, and serves as a cushion and insulation.
The sebaceous glands are located at the root of the hair follicles. They produce oil, or sebum, to lubricate your skin and hair.
The elastin is an essential protein that helps your skin to stretch and bounce back after stretching. Sun exposure and repeated facial expressions both can damage the elastin which leads to sagging skin.
Collagen is an essential protein that is basically the building blocks of your skin’s foundation. It helps your skin to have a smooth structure. Sun exposure and aging leads to the breakdown of collagen that results in fine lines and wrinkles.
The dermal-epidermal junction (DEJ) connects the epidermis and dermis. It hosts a network of blood vessels to help to transfer nutrients from the dermis to the epidermis.
The sebum is an oily secretion produced by the sebaceous glands to help waterproof your skin and to keep it firm.
The network of blood vessels located in the dermis and subcutaneous layer supply oxygen and nutrients to your skins. They also help to regulate your body temperature.
Things That Damage the Skin
There are a variety of things that can damage your skin. Toxins, radiation, inflammation, and stagnation are the top 4 problems you need to pay attention to in order to protect your skin.
Toxins and Skin Health
Toxins are unfortunately everywhere. They are in the air you breathe, conventional cleaning products, conventional body and skin care, and non-organic food. As toxins come in contact with your skin’s surface, they can lead to irritation, inflammation, and skin damage. They can also enter into your body and bloodstream through your skin and other ways. Damage that occurs inside your body, especially in your gut and hormones, can damage your skin just as much that environmental harm affecting your skin directly.
Conventional skin and body products are filled with toxic chemicals. Here are the top 10 toxins you need to watch out for that can harm your skin and overall health.
- Parabens: Parabens have been used since the 1920s and became incredibly common in products in the 1980s. However, in the past decades, research has shown that parabens an estrogenic and potentially harm your hormonal balance, damage your skin, and hurt your overall health (1).
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfates (SLS): You can find SLS in facial cleansers, body wash, shampoo, and other body products. However, SLS is a corrosive that has been used in clinical studies to irritate the skin to test various healing solutions. SLS may also result in early signs of skin aging (1).
- Phthalates: Phthalates help products to hold scent and color better. can lead to hormonal, neurological, reproductive, developmental, and skin damage (2).
- Oxybenzone: Oxybenzone is one of the ingredients of many sunscreens. However, it may actually increase the production of free radicals when exposed to light and act as a carcinogen (3).
- Lead: There is a reason we’ve stopped putting lead in paint. Lead is a proven neurotoxin linked to a variety of problems, including fertility issues and miscarriage. It may be surprising but lead has been found in many conventional lipstick brands.
- Aluminum: Aluminum is a common ingredient of antiperspirant deodorant that people apply daily. However, aluminum is also a neurotoxin that can lead to cognitive damage and other health issues.
- Triclosan: Triclosan is commonly found in hand sanitizers. However, research has shown that it can lead to hormonal damage (4).
- PEF Compounds: Polyethylene glycols (PEGS) are petroleum-based compounds found in cream-based cosmetic products. PEFS also contain ethylene oxide which is a human carcinogen that can harm your nervous system, human development, and skin.
- Hydroquinone: Hydroquinone is used in products that are used to lighten your skin and used for sun damage, acne scars, and sun damage. It is also a harmful carcinogen and it can decrease your skin’s elasticity as well (5).
- Formaldehyde: Formaldehyde is used in a variety of cosmetic products that prevent bacteria growth. It may be found in conventional body washes, shampoos, conditioners, eye shadows, nail polish, and cleanser. It is also a carcinogen that can damage your body and skin (6).
When looking for skin and body care products, avoid these chemicals. To stay safe and achieve the best results without toxic harm, choose organic, natural products or make your own products from natural ingredients. Here is a helpful article on some of the best natural beauty products
Radiation and the Skin
Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation can increase your risk of skin damage and most forms of skin cancers. UV rays can damage your skin cells on a DNA level. They can compromise your skin’s immune system, lead to sunburn, wrinkles, spots, premature aging, and other damage. When the damage begins to affect skin cell growth, skin cancer starts (7, 8. 9).
While sunlight is the main and most widely known source of UV rays, tanning beds and tanning lamps are also sources of UV exposure and may lead to similar skin damage. As far as we currently know, there are no UV rays that are safe to your health.
It is important to protect yourself from UV ray radiation damage. Don’t stay out on the sun mid-day when it’s the strongest. Seek shade and protect yourself with clothing. Use natural sunscreen and apply it regularly. Avoid tanning beds and lamps (10).
Inflammation and Skin Health
Inflammation is an important part of your body’s self-healing process. When injuries happen or invaders, such as germs, infections, and allergens, attack your body, your immune system tries to fight them off on the cellular level. Inflammation may be visible.
It can result in redness, swelling, itching, hives, or pimples as your blood vessels dilate to increase blood flow and aid healing. In the case of acute inflammation, this is a good thing. Redness, swelling, and pimples due to acute inflammation go away within a few days or weeks as your body heals.
However, when inflammation turns chronic, it becomes a problem. Eating an unhealthy diet, living an unhealthy lifestyle, chronic stress, and environmental factors can trigger your body to treat everything from processed foods to emotional stress as invaders triggering an immune response. Your body ends up believing that you are constantly under attack, creating constant inflammation. Chronic inflammation can lead to gut problems, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and other chronic health issues.
Chronic inflammation can also affect your skin. It can lead to chronic acne, puffiness, sagging, redness, enlarged pores, fine lines, wrinkles, and other signs of premature aging. Chronic inflammation is also the root cause of a variety of chronic skin problems, including eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis (11).
Stagnation and Skin Health
Under ideal conditions, your skin should be at a state of flow. Your epidermis undergoes a constant renewal as all cells are replaced by new ones every 28 days. Old, dead skin layer shed without you notice it, and new ones appear. If you treat your skin and body right, this renewal process helps heal inflammation, pimples, scars, and other issues, and create glowing, healthy skin.
One of the main reasons for stagnation is the liquid plastic found in skincare products. Theoretically, these products are designed to repair skin concerns and beautify your skin, however, in long-term, they may do the opposite. Liquid plastic is a cheap solution to hide pores, fill lines, and cover brown spots. Paired with silicone they may create a silky and smooth skin.
However, these products don’t address the root cause of these skin issues. Instead of achieving true repair, they simply cover up the damage beneath the surface. Over time, they can lead to more wrinkles, dryness, acne, redness, blemishes, dark spots, and sagging.
Symptoms of Skin Inflammation
A variety of things, including bacteria, virus, and fungal infections, allergic reactions, immune system dysfunction, heat, photosensitivity, and genetics can lead to skin inflammation.
There may be a variety of symptoms of skin inflammation, including:
- Acne or pimples
- Age spots
- Cracked or raw skin that may bleed
- Itching, burning, or stinging
- Warmth in the affected area
- Thickening of the skin
7 Foods That Damage Skin
Your diet matters. If you are eating a nutrient-dense diet, it can set you up for health and energy. On the contrary, if you consume an unhealthy diet, it can damage your overall health, including your skin. There are 7 main foods that can damage your skin.
Conventional dairy is an inflammatory food that can worsen inflammatory skin problems, including acne, eczema, and rashes. Conventional dairy is also high in growth hormones and antibiotics that may interfere with your hormonal balance that may also lead to skin issues (15).
Moreover, about 75 percent of the world and 25 percent of the US population is lactose intolerant, and many more are sensitive to the dairy proteins casein and whey. Lactose intolerance and dairy sensitivity can trigger skin inflammation and a flare-up of skin conditions (16, 17).
Refined sugar is the cause of an array of health problems, including inflammation, insulin resistance, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, depression, and more. Not surprisingly, sugar is not good for your skin either. Inflammation caused by sugar can break down collagen and elastin, which results in signs of early aging, wrinkles, and sagging skin.
Eating too much sugar can also result in glycation which is the process when digested sugar permanently attaches to the collagen in your skin, and can lead to skin conditions, including acne and rosacea. Too much sugar can also weaken your immune system and gut health which can lead to further skin damage (12, 13, 14).
Processed Vegetable Oils
Refined vegetable oils, such as canola, corn, soybean, sunflower, sesame, rice bran, and cottonseed oils, became popular in the 20th century. They are made by extracting oil from plants using an oil mill or chemical solvent.
Often they are purified, refined, and even chemically altered. These processed oils, however, are very high in inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids that can lead to skin damage and other health issues (18).
Artificial trans fats are created in an industrial process by adding hydrogen to make liquid vegetable oils more solid. They present a big problem when it comes to your skin health. Trans fats are everywhere.
The main dietary source of trans fats is partially hydrogenated oils hiding in countless processed foods, including frozen pizzas, cakes, crackers, margarine, and pie crusts. Trans fats create inflammation in your body, which leads to skin damage (19)
Fried foods are usually deep-fried in refined vegetable oils. The problem is that these oils are loaded with trans fats. They are high inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids that can aggravate and lead to skin conditions.
When vegetable oils are heated at high heat, they oxidized. Putting oxidized fat into your body can lead to unhealthy circulation, lack of oxygen in your skin, and damaged collagen and elastin, all of which may result in signs of early aging and skin damage (21).
Highly Processed Chocolate
While raw cacao is high in antioxidants and can be beneficial to your health, highly processed chocolates do the opposite. Highly processed chocolate usually use alkali treated cocoa processed that is completely stripped from its flavonoid antioxidant benefits.
Not to mention that highly processed chocolates have very little cacao in them, instead, they are filled with refined sugar and additional ingredients, such as artificial flavors, soy lecithin, and cacao liquor. Highly processed chocolate offer no nutritional value, instead, it can lead to inflammation, skin damage, and health problems (20).
Soft drinks are loaded with sugar, artificial sugars, and other artificial ingredients that can lead to skin problems. Some soft drinks, including sodas and energy drinks, are caffeinated. Too much caffeine results in increased cortisol levels and excess cortisol can accelerate aging and result in fine lines, wrinkles, brown spots, dehydration, and skin damage.
What Is Autophagy
Autophagy is a process that happens when your body recycles and gets rid of old or excess cells that don’t benefit your health anymore. Autophagy helps your body to create new and healthier cellular structures. The major driving forces of this process include cellular stressors, such as nutrient deprivation through fasting, exercise, and significant temperature change.
Each of your cells has essential components called organelles, that play a similar role to organs in your body. When a cell is exposed to stressors, such as nutrient deprivation, it creates phagophore, a transient double-membrane structure, that can expand and surround cellular components, such as proteins, lipids, and other organelles. Once it encloses these components, it delivers unique organelles, called lysosomes with degrading enzymes to them in order to break down certain components.
The major cause of autophagy is cellular stress. Your body is always looking for homeostasis for survival, and when under stress, it’s looking for change to create balance. When your body is experiencing nutrient deprivation, it is looking for raw materials to fuel for survival. They end up destroying older cells and cellular organelles that are not working efficiently anymore to create new, healthier cells that can produce more energy more efficiently (22, 23).
Autophagy can improve mitochondrial health, get rid of senescent cells, eliminate viral infected cells, reduce cellular apoptosis, and create a stronger, healthier, and more resilient body. To learn about autophagy in more detail, read this article.
10 Strategies to Rejuvenate the Skin
Your skin health is an essential part of your overall health. It is important to protect it and prevent any damage. Let’s dig into 10 strategies to rejuvenate your skin naturally.
1. Optimizing Hydration
Being hydrated is essential for your overall health, including your skin. Remember, your skin is your largest organ, and like other organs, it needs water to function properly. Without proper hydration, it simply cannot function at it’s best.
Dehydration can lead to wrinkles and other signs of aging. It may also increase your risk of inflammation which may lead to further skin damage. To rejuvenate your skin, make sure your drink 8 to 10 glasses of water each day. Along with hydration, drinking water also aids your body’s detoxification process. You may also add lemon or lime to help detoxification and encourage an alkaline environment in your body (24, 25).
2. Anti-Inflammatory Diet High in Trace Minerals
What you eat reflects on your skin. If you are eating a nutrient-dense, healthy diet, you are on your way to rejuvenate your skin and enjoy a beautiful glow. However, if you are eating lots of processed foods, low in nutrients, your skin will suffer too.
One of the most important parts of your nutrition is to hydrate well to support detoxification and moisturization of your skin. Make sure to drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of water a day.
Eat a big salad to add lots of skin-supporting antioxidants, flavonoids, vitamins, and minerals to your daily diet. Raw spinach and other greens are particularly rich in mineral and serve as a fantastic base. Cucumber salads are one of my favorites to add extra hydration and powerful nutrients to your day for skin health. You can add anti-inflammatory herbs, including turmeric and ginger to any salad to further support autophagy.
Drinking vegetable juices with cucumber, celery, lemon, turmeric, and greens is another powerful way to add more nutrients to your diet. You can learn more about juicing here.
Make sure to avoid refined sugars and grains to reduce the risk of inflammatory damage in your skin and connective tissues. Eating low glycemic index (GI) foods, such as raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries add plenty of sweetness to your life. You can also natural sweeteners, such as monk fruit and stevia, as needed.
Avoid bad fats, such as vegetable oils, and use good fats, such as avocados, coconut oil, grass-fed ghee or butter, olives, and extra virgin olive oil instead. Focus on healthy animal products, such as wild fish rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, grass-fed meats, and free-range poultry.
You can learn more about an anti-inflammatory diet to rejuvenate your skin here.
3. Intermittent Fasting and Occasional Extended Water Fasting
Fasting is one of the easiest ways to bring on nutrient deficiency helping the process of autophagy. Intermittent fasting and occasional extended fasting or water fasting can be highly beneficial to improve skin autophagy.
Autophagy plays an important role in maintaining your mitochondria and skin health. It helps your body to remove damaged and unwanted debris that may lead to later problems. Fasting can also slow down visible signs of aging, increase oxygen efficiency, reduce oxidative stress, increase longevity, and better your overall health. It can also improve your gut flora and reduce inflammation in your body, and as a result, it may lead to healthier skin (26, 27. 28. 29).
If you are interested in how intermittent fasting can help to rejuvenate your skin, read this article for the best intermittent fasting strategies.
4. Alternating Showers
Taking alternate shows has an array of health benefits, including improving chronic pain, increasing energy, improving your mood, and boosting your brain function. Short periods of intense heat and cold exposure can promote skin autophagy by putting a major stressor on your body forcing it to adapt quickly and achieve homeostasis again. Alternate showers can help your body to become stronger and more resilient (30).
Hot water can improve inflammation, open up your pores allowing them to remove clogs and dirt, and improve your overall health. Cold water, on the other hand, can close up your clean pores and help them stay clean a healthy. The alternation between hot and cold showers can also improve your circulation and blood flow, which can help to rejuvenate your skin (31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37).
To practice alternate showering, it is a good idea to end your shower with 30 to 60 seconds of cold water. You may also alternate between hot and cold several times, just make sure to end with a cold shower. You may also experience the same benefits if you take a cold shower or jump into a cold pool after soaking in a hot tub or spending some time in an infrared sauna. You can learn more about alternate showering here.
5. Regular Exercise
As a human being, you are meant to move your body. Did you know that an average American spends 13 hours a day sitting? Combined with 7 to 8 hours sleeping, that’s 20 to 21 hours without movement. However, being inactive is not good for your health (38).
Regular exercise can improve your mitochondrial health, sleep, and immune system. By boosting your immune system and lowering inflammation, it lowers the risk of skin inflammation and infections as well.
High-intensity interval training and resistance training, especially while fasting, can ramp up autophagy in your body. Increasing muscle mass can lead to firmer skin and reduce the visibility of cellulite. Sweating allows your body to get rid of toxins, clear your pores, and maintain clear skin. Exercise can lower the production of cortisol, which can cause skin problems, including wrinkles, sagging, and acne (39, 40).
Most importantly, increased happiness from regular physical activity becomes apparent on your skin as well. A heart-pumping aerobic exercise or another hard workout can lead to an instant post-workout glow.
6. Get Outside and Good Sun Exposure
Spending time outside in nature and getting good sun exposure is an opportunity to get some exercise without noticing, breathe in some fresh air increasing your oxygen consumption, and boosting your mood. Spending time outside on the sun is also a great way to reduce stress, lower cortisol levels, and decrease inflammation in your body. Remember, lowering inflammation is crucial to rejuvenating your skin. Your skin also uses sunlight to create vitamin D, which is an essential vitamin for your overall health (41).
However, when you are in the sun, it’s important to take some precautions. Spending time outdoors and getting sunshine is important and good, however, it is crucial that you don’t burn and protect yourself from UV. Wear natural, protective sunblock. Don’t stay out too much, and enjoy plenty of time in the shade as well. Wear protective clothing as needed. If you practice caution, you and your skin health can enjoy the benefit of some sunshine.
7. Good Sleep and Stress Reduction
Getting a good night sleep and reducing stress is essential for your overall health. Just think about it, when you are tired and stressed, those bags under your eyes become more visible, and you may notice more pimples, skin infections, or dryness.
Maintaining a healthy sleep cycle and circadian rhythm is closely tied into autophagy. Insomnia, lack of sleep, and fatigue can increase your risk of inflammation and chronic disease. Being stressed increases cortisol in your body, which can lead to inflammation, disease, and premature signs of aging that are visible on your skin. On the other hand, reducing stress and sleeping plenty can encourage your skin to rejuvenate and create new, healthy, and youthful looking skin cells (42).
Develop a regular sleeping schedule and routine to support your circadian rhythms. Make sure to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Reduce stress through meditation, yoga, relaxation exercises, movement, time in nature, and other calming activities. Avoid stressful situations whenever possible, and learn coping skills to respond to stress better. To learn more about the common causes of bad sleeping habit and how to reverse them, check out this article.
8. Autophagy Enhancing Herbs
Utilizing the power of autophagy herbs is one of the best ways to rejuvenate your skin. They are rich in nutrient, antioxidants, and polyphenols thus can effectively support your skin.
Green tea is not only delicious, but it is rich in polyphenols and nutrients that can improve your health. Catechins, a specific type of polyphenol, can help to regulate your hunger hormone helping your autophagy-supporting fast (43, 44).
Besides green tea, there are other herbs that are rich in polyphenols that suppress the mTOR pathway and activate the AMPk pathway to induce autophagy. Some of my favorite autophagy herbs include quercetin in red onions and elderberries, carnosic acid in oregano, sage, and rosemary, EGCG in dark chocolate, 6-shogaol in ginger, curcumin in turmeric, resveratrol in blueberries and grapes, and citrus bergamot in Earl Gray tea (45, 46, 47).
9. Autophagy Activating Supplements
In addition to autophagy herbs, I recommend utilizing autophagy activating supplements. One of my favorite supplements that supports skin autophagy is Inflam Defense™ because of its powerful ingredients, turmeric, ginger, boswellia, quercetin, and rutin.
Turmeric is an herb native to Southeast Asia known for its remarkable anti-inflammatory benefits. Thanks to its active compound, curcumin, it can effectively reduce inflammation, oxidative stress, and pain, and as a result, improve your skin (48, 49. 50).
Ginger is another potent superfood that can effectively reduce inflammation and pain. It can effectively reduce free radical damage and improve your health through antioxidants (51).
Boswellia is also referred to as frankincense. It can effectively suppress the production of key inflammatory molecules and reduce the risk of health problems (52).
Quercetin and rutin are two active bioflavonoids that can improve your immune response. They can reduce inflammation and oxidative damage improving your overall health.
Inflam Defense™ is a powerful supplement that can modulate the inflammatory response in your body, reduce oxidative stress, support autophagy, and help to rejuvenate your skin. Through regular use, you can see a true difference in your skin complexion and overall health. You can learn about there anti-inflammatory herbs in Inflam Defense™ that can help to rejuvenate your skin here.
10. Proper Skin Care
When it comes to your skin health, you cannot forget about proper skin care. Natural skin care is not difficult. All you have to do is to pay attention to the few simple tips below.
What to Avoid to Rejuvenate Your Skin:
- Long, hot showers
- Soap-free cleansing bars
- Anything with alcohol and perfumes
- Lanolin-based creams, lotions, ointments, etc.
- Toxic ingredients you’ve learned about earlier that can have a harmful effect on your skin
What to Do to Rejuvenate Your Skin
- Eat a nutrient-dense diet and drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. Avoid alcohol, sugary drinks, and sodas. Drink 2 to 3 quarts of water daily. You can add lemon or lime as well. You may also add herbal tea or green juice to your routine. You can learn about a healthy anti-inflammatory diet that supports your skin here.
- Keep your home cool and humid to avoid dry skin reactions. Wear gloves in cold weather, and sunblock and protective clothing in hot weather.
- Wear cotton clothes whenever possible. Use natural, mild detergents.
- If you notice a rash after shaving, do not shave until its completely healed. Avoid perfumed after-shave.
- Start loving moisturizers. Natural moisturizers can prevent water loss by layering an oily substance over the skin to keep the water in or by attracting water to the outer layer from the inner layer of your skin. I recommend Purity Woods Age Defying Dream Cream which uses organic ingredients that help to soothe the skin and activate skin autophagy and moisturization.
Final Thoughts on Skin Health
Your skin is the largest organ that serves as a protective layer and performs essential tasks for your body. The health of your skin is important for your overall health. Your skin protects you from viruses, bacteria, and UV rays. It produces vitamin D, helps to regulate your temperature, and help you react to important changes affecting your body.
Taking care of your skin is important and you can do it naturally. Optimal hydration, eating an anti-inflammatory diet with trace minerals, using autophagy herbs, intermittent fasting, sleeping plenty, spending time outdoors, alternate showers, reducing stress, and healthy skin care routine are all important for your skin health.
To rejuvenate your skin, I recommend Inflam Defense™, an autophagy-activating, an anti-inflammatory supplement that can protect your skin and overall body. To support a natural and healthy skincare routine I recommend Purity Woods Age Defying Dream Cream.
Following these 10 simple strategies to rejuvenate your skin, you can experience visible benefits. Your friends and family will compliment you for your glowing skin, and your body will thank you for your loving care as well.