What is Inflammation?

Inflammation. This word has become quite common in medical articles, including those dealing with dermatology. What is it anyway?

One type of inflammation is quite familiar – like when we get stung by a bee. The area becomes red and swollen, even warm. That’s inflammation that is easy to see. But then there is the very subtle type – the kind you can’t see happening because it is internal. In fact it is believed that such diseases as diabetes, Alzheimer’s and heart disease are highly influenced by long term, subtle inflammation.

So what causes this? Irritants. Free radicals. From pollution, sunlight, the foods we eat. This inflammation results in premature aging of the skin. In fact, get this: this inflammation process produces AGEs. This stands for advanced glycation end products – a highly sophisticated term, but the acronym says it all. These end products stem from a glycation reaction, which refers to the addition of a carbohydrate to a protein without the involvement of an enzyme. Glucose can bind with proteins in a process called glycation, making cells stiffer, less pliable and more subject to damage and premature aging. It is believed that sugar is a key cause of AGEs, and goodness knows sugar (by many names, think High Fructose Corn Syrup) is now added to endless numbers of foods that we consume. It is also believed that sugar is a key player in acne, which is also a form of inflammation. (stay tuned as Dermadeli works on its acne product line) so staying away from eating sugar is a very good idea. It’s my personal opinion that artificial sweeteners present their own problems, and we would be better off just working on reducing our overall demand for sweetness.

Besides preventing inflammation, improving the inflammation that we have is the other form of defense. We can do this both internally and externally. First by what we eat. A few suggestions. Foremost, eat FOOD. By this I mean eat real, original food that is minimally processed or not processed at all. For instance, baked chicken is preferable to chicken nuggets. Then, think plants, plants. Fruits and vegetables of course, but we can place whole grains here as well. ‘Clean’, (not gooped up protein), like fish, seafood, cottage cheese, yogurt, meat, poultry and eggs.  And finally ‘good for you’ fats (I like to call them Benefats) like avocado, oils, nuts. The Mediterranean Diet is a good example of this type of eating. This is strengthening and nourishing our bodies from the inside.

Speaking of the face, these AGEs contribute to wrinkling and sagging of skin. What can we do topically to help slow this process? We can use wonderful products – those based on good nutrition, ‘facial food’, and products that are soothing, healing. This is the basis of the Dermadeli product line – the only product line that we know of that was developed by a dietitian. Pumpkin Seed Serum is a fabulous start.  Feed you face – from the inside and outside. Simply good, simply beautiful.

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