Anti-Ageing: The Inside View

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Q: I’ve read about taking anti-ageing supplements for the skin but can anything really stop sags, bags and wrinkles?

A: In brief, yes! But this depends on the state of your skin, and also your lifestyle (diet, sleep, exercise, water consumption), as well as your genes. Moisturisers are vital but they only penetrate the top skin layer (dermis), so feeding the skin from inside with a targeted ‘nutricosmetic’ or ‘nutriceutical’ may help overcome some of the effects of ageing.

Dove Spa Strength Within Beauty Supplement is a new dietary anti-wrinkle treatment. It’s claimed to improve skin tone by boosting collagen. The three-a-day supplement (£35 for 28 days’ supply), combines soya isoflavones, lycopene from tomatoes, omega-3 essential fatty acids from fish oils, plus vitamins C and E.

Preliminary research is promising. Trials on 480 women show that in 14 weeks ‘crows’ feet’ wrinkles by the eyes become 10 per cent shallower on average, 30 per cent in the best cases.

Several dedicated products have been launched in the last two decades, notably the Imedeen range, beloved of Joanna Lumley, with several positive (although small) studies. Based on marine protein, with vitamin C, lycopene, grape seed extract and soy, Imedeen Time Perfection (£44.99 for 60-capsules) may improve texture and decrease dryness, reducing fine lines and wrinkles.

A good diet helps skin ageing. Skin is mostly made from protein so that is vital, also fruit and vegetables, which are rich in protective and restorative antioxidants, plus prebiotics (which stimulate probiotics, the good gut bugs that help skin health). Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids(IdealOmega 3 , £35.98 for 60Capsules) are important. And reduce sugar and carbs, which can cause collagen to degrade (leading to sags and bags) and contribute to cell damage and visible skin ageing.

But getting enough of the right nutrients is hard. As well as an omega-3 supplement and vitamin D, pharmacist Shabir Daya identifies hyaluronic acid (£35 for 30VegeCaps) is the most crucial of all anti-ageing supplements for its ability to hydrate skin, stimulate collagen, and scavenge damaging free radical molecules.

The new buzz is ceramides. These vital lipids (oils) form part of the skin barrier and are vital for locking in moisture. Applying them topically may help but taking a wheat ceramide supplement can totally rehydrate stubbornly dry skin. Try Skin Restoring Ceramides, £25 for 30 capsules,

My own favourite is Sun Chlorella A. These algae pillules triggered a significant improvement in my skin: it looked plumper, more velvety, with more even skin tone, and my long-ish face looked slightly ‘lifted’. Nutritionist Nadia Brydon explains that in Chinese medicine there are two pairs of energy lines (meridians) running down your face. If your gut is unhappy, the lines droop. Chlorella calms your gut so the lines return to normal. Sun Chlorella A £21.95 for 300 pillules, dose 15-40 daily.

A Large Scoop of Compassion

Last year, there was huge interest in our story about two nurses who came up with a simple way to put compassion back into healthcare. Jill Fraser and Nicola Matthews, who now advise the Department of Health, set up Kissing It Better, a website that encourages health professionals in hospitals, hospices and residential homes to do ‘the little things that make the world of difference’. The ideas can be as easy as dispensing smiles and hugs, keeping specs clean, and asking patients how they prefer to be addressed. Others include setting up bird tables by windows, a dining club for stroke victims, art therapy or singing groups, and showing classic films (with popcorn). Visit kissingitbetter.co.uk to see the scores of brilliant ideas that can transform lives.

Smarter Moves

‘Experts agree dance helps with development, and can also help them connect more with others,’ says Anna Kennedy, the mother of one son with autism and another with Asperger syndrome. Now Anna has launched Step In the Right Direction, a dance and exercise DVD especially for this group. It’s supported by James Hobley, the 12 year old with autism, who was the dance sensation of this summer’s Britain’s Got Talent. Step In The Right Direction, £7.99 plus £2.50 p&p from annakennedyonline.com.

A Real AA-Star

For some people with a drink problem, the New Year a resolution to change. Alcoholics Anonymous, which runs free self-help groups nation- and worldwide, ‘has helped more people with drink problems turn their lives around than every other organisation and service put together,’ says addiction expert Dr Tim Cantopher, author of the helpful book Dying For A Drink (Sheldon Press, £8.99). It’s not easy but it is possible – and the best thing you can ever do. (I know. Like millions of others, I did it – with the help of AA – over 30 years ago now.) Contact the UK national helpline on 020 7833 0022, alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk.

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