What Wrinkles and Alzheimer's Have in Common
by our Health Expert

What's the connection between wrinkles and Alzheimer's? If you answered "Aging" you're right, of course. But that's only part of the story. As science comes to understand the rest of the story, the connection between health and beauty becomes more clear - and the value of choosing wisely among the options for dietary supplements and skin care products becomes more apparent.

It turns out that wrinkles, Alzheimer's and a host of other chronic degenerative diseases that come with age, including arthritis, atherosclerosis, diabetes and cirrhosis of the liver - to name but a few - all share another common underlying factor: Inflammation.

You probably think of inflammation as the hot, red, painful swelling around an injury, and these are in fact the classical symptoms, known since ancient times and described by the Roman physician Celsus. When you look at your wrinkles, you probably don't see any of these signs. Nonetheless, the underlying cause may be the same.

We're not talking about the sweet laugh lines around your eyes that give your face its own unique,lovely character. That type of crease appears for the same reason that paper once folded retains a visible trace. It's natural and normal.

It's the "unnatural" wrinkles, the "unfair" wrinkles that seem to show up all by themselves that we're worried about. And then we worry that we worry too much, because doesn't worry cause wrinkles, too? Seems we just can't win.

So, don't worry, because here's some information you can use to fight wrinkles and all the other symptoms of advancing age.

The process underlying all inflammatory symptoms - wrinkles and Alzheimer's included - is an immune system response which produces a biochemical cascade designed to attack the surfaces of foreign cells such as germs or viruses. Unfortunately this response can't always distinguish between foreign cells and the body's own, and damage is done to organs such as blood vessels in atherosclerosis or skin cells in wrinkling.

Complicating the issue is the increasingly recognized role of free radicals in inflammation. It is now well understood that while free radicals do play a positive role as mediators of tissue destruction in inflammation, in overabundance they exacerbate the auto-immune effects of the immune cascade.

A free radical is an atom or molecule in search of an electron. The free radicals we're concerned about (remember, we're only concerned, not worried - worry causes wrinkles!) are oxygen free radicals. These oxygen free radicals are a natural byproduct of metabolism the cellular-level process for converting food into energy. They also show up wherever there's trauma, inflammation or injury.

Free radicals find the electrons they want in neighboring molecules, converting them in turn into unstable free radicals, creating a cascade of free radical damage throughout the area and exacerbating any inflammation present. But what does this have to do with wrinkles?

Within each cell - and this includes skin cells, of course - are "transcription factors," molecular messengers that help guide protein manufacture for healthy cell function. When the free radical level in any cell is too high, the cell defends itself by activating the transcription factors for producing proinflammatory cytokines, including collagenases, which digest collagen. Breaking down collagen in this way creates tiny, microscopic scars. When enough of these cellular-level microscars accumulate, you get a wrinkle.

Are you remembering not to worry? Fortunately, Nature has its own antidote: anti-oxidants. That's why you hear so much about them. Unfortunately, there just about always seem to be more free radicals than anti-oxidants, which is why we need to supplement our diets with a good supply. Anti-oxidants seem to gobble up free radicals becuase theyare atoms and molecues with a spare electron to answer the free radicals' hunger.

If you take a multi-vitamin and drink your juice in the morning, you're probably getting a good dose of anti-oxidants internally from your diet. What you may not have known - and the fact that can help you fight signs of aging like wrinkles - is that it's also very important to apply anti-oxidants topically, as ingredients in your moisturizer, lotion, face creme or night time serum.

At the same time, your skin care products need to help replenish lost and damaged collagen, and there are a variety of skin care active ingredients known to promote collagen production and maintain collagen health.

Dr. Nicholas Perricone, M.D., in his best-selling book The Perricone Prescription, recommends a three-front attack on inflammation and aging symptoms:

  1. Avoid foods with a high glycemic index, which tend to promote free radical production. In addition, be sure to get enough omega-rich unsaturated fats, and drink plenty of water.
  2. Supplement wisely with anti-oxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene and alpha-lipoic acid, as well as CoQ10, which preserves the anti-oxidant action of vitamin C.
  3. Use a high-spf sunscreen, and use a face creme or moisturizer with anti-oxidant ingredients such as vitamin C or alpha-lipoic acid.

This a very minimal program, the very least you should be doing to defend your skin against aging. If you would like to learn more, you can purchase Dr. Perricone's book at Amazon. It really lives up to its subtitle, A Physician's 28-Day Program for Total Body and Face Rejuvenation, and we highly recommend it.

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