By Khadija Hawkes, Lifestyle Guide Specialist
Drinking an adequate amount of water is one of the simplest, yet most underutilized anti-aging skin care techniques. Water is truly the building block of life and a constant infusion of water purifies and feeds cell tissue for optimal skin at any age. To illustrate this point, we must first look at the makeup of the body’s cells.
All cells, including those on the skin are made up of approximately 70% water. Water surrounds and cushions our cells in the form of interstitial fluid. This fluid protects cells, as well as transports waste from normal metabolic processes. This waste is excreted in many ways, including through the skin.
Also found inside of cells in the form of intracellular fluid, water facilitates many chemical processes and helps to support cell structure. Adequate water consumption is paramount for optimal cell and body function. As the body’s largest organ, this holds true for skin as well.
The recommendation to drink eight to ten glasses of water a day is essential, especially for older adults. Water hydrates the skin’s cells and carries nutrients throughout your body to feed various organs. As skin is the largest organ, and one with many functions, it requires a large amount of fluid on a daily basis. Water works to flush your skin of impurities, regulate body temperature, and maintain a fresh, supple appearance.
Many people do not consume enough water and that fact is quite visible. Lack of adequate water consumption is evident in the form of dry, flaky skin, fine lines, and dark circles. Also, as you age, skin becomes thinner. This allows the signs of water loss to become even more visible.
It is also true that as a person ages, the skin produces less sebum-the skin’s natural lubricating oil. Sebum helps to keep the skin soft and supple. Reduced sebum levels lead to increasingly dry skin, as well as fine lines and wrinkles. Drinking water helps to counteract this process by keeping the skin fortified with a steady supply of natural moisture.
In addition, the body is equipped with a keen survival mechanism. If there is a shortage of water, your body will divert available water to organs which are critical to survival. While the skin is important, it takes a back seat to such organs as the heart, lungs, and liver. Over time, consistent redistribution of water from the skin will cause a dried out, leathery, or parchment type appearance. As you age, this can cause increased cracks and fissures in the skin, which may sometimes bleed. This also increases the depth and width of wrinkles. Increasing your water consumption will help to alleviate this problem.
In addition to drinking water, eating fruits and vegetables with a high water concentration will also help you to remain hydrated. Some examples of water rich fruits are watermelon, cantaloupe, strawberries, cranberries, apples, and apricots. With each fruit listed, more than 80% of its weight is from water. This is a healthy and delicious way to increase your water intake.
Increasing your water intake, as well as eating water rich fruits and vegetables is a low cost, yet effective way to maintain healthy skin. Your diet is extremely important to your overall health and appearance. By consciously increasing the amount of water your drink, you provide your skin with the basic elements of moisture and renewal.
University of Kentucky College of Agriculture. Water Content of Fruits and Vegetables. (1997). http://www.ca.uky.edu/enri/pubs/enri129.pdf
Journal of Investigative Dermatology. Age-related Changes in Sebaceous Gland Activity. (1979). htttp://www.nature.com/jid/journal/v73/n1/abs/5616250a.html
Advameg. Water. (2010) http://www.faqs.org/nutrition/Smi-Z/Water.html