woman sitting on bathroom counter

Understanding Your Body’s Response To Hormones

Hormones, can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em. When you’re a teen, they hit you like a mac truck, wreaking havoc on your formerly clear skin and relatively easy going parents. Then, just when you thought you’d got them under control, the 40’s hit, hormone levels go down and you’re wishing for just a smidgeon of the estrogen you had in high school. Hormones can be a tricky thing, and sometimes they can seem to have a lot more control over your skin than you do, but there is a way to make peace. Read on for a little insight on hormone fluctuations, what to expect, and how to deal with them.

The Teen Years
When girls hit the ages of around 12 or 13, the introduction of hormones begins. The female body starts to produce estrogens and androgens in high quantities and the skin is impacted. Estrogen is responsible for the “female aesthetic”, causing breasts to develop and giving the hips their curves. In the skin, estrogen decreases the size of pores, giving it a smooth surface and builds elastin and collagen to give skin elasticity and maintain moisture. However, it is the male hormones which lead to the oiliness. Androgens, including testosterone, stimulate hair growth, enlarging pores and boosting sebum, the oily substance in the skin. The result? Acne.

The 20’s and 30’s
The twenties and thirties are definitely the best it gets as far as hormones are concerned. Estrogen peaks and the testosterone boosts sebum, giving skin radiant glow. The hormones are in balance.

The 30’s and 40’s
Of course, nothing gold can stay. After the estrogen effect peaks at around the age of 25, it begins to drop, slightly in the 30’s and more noticeably in the 40’s. Production of collagen and elastin decrease and the skin begins to lose elasticity, affecting the aging skin in a far greater capacity than sun damage. By the late 40’s women enter perimenopause, the purgatory between ovulation and menopause. Hormones cycles change and women may notice a resurgence of acne, an increase in facial hair, and thinning hair on the scalp.

50’s and Up
Most women have reached menopause by the age of 50. Estrogen and testosterone production declines, and with it, the skin manufactures less collagen and elastin. In fact, according to a study in the Venus Week, collagen production declines 2.1% every year in the 15 years following menopause, leading to a 30% decrease in collagen between the ages of 50 and 65. Hot flashes may occur and the skin will get drier, thinner, and more wrinkled.

Controlling Hormones
Because hormone fluctuations are often the result of excess weight and lack of exercise, a good dietary and exercise regimen is key in maintaining hormonal balance. However, underweight women are also at risk for hormonal imbalances. Experts advise aiming for a body mass index between 20 and 25.

Women in their 20s can control acne by using face cleanser including salicylic acid, while older women with decreased skin elasticity should use an exfoliant weekly and an antioxidant containing moisturizer. Retinoids can help with wrinkles, and all women should wear sun screen, as sun damage can intensify unwanted changes in the skin.

The first step to finding treatment is diagnosing the problem. Says Rebecca Booth, MD, “Women must first understand the effects of their hormones on the skin and overall health to seek lifestyle changes to navigate these natural fluctuations. With the power of knowledge, they can seek solutions to achieve the maximum flow of hormonal balance all month long and all life long.”

Are your hormones wreaking havoc on your skin? Let us know how you’re coping. We love to hear from you.

Friends hugging

Hug It Out To Slow Down Aging

Have you heard of professional cuddlers? For about $60/hr, you can hire someone for a platonic cuddle up without the complications of a relationship. In fact, some of the services even offer cuddling parties. Sound a little creepy to you? Well, what if you found out that hugging can help to slow down the aging process? According to the University of California, Berkeley, people who don’t hug age faster. Ready to cash in your $60? Let’s look at the effects of oxytocin on the aging process.

The Love Hormone
Oxytocin is also known as the “love hormone” or “trust hormone, and it gets released when people let down their guard and participate in a good hug. As we age and get fewer hugs, the levels of the hormone drop and muscle loss are one of the major side effects. In fact, science shows that we lose five percent of muscle mass per decade once we reach our thirties. In the study at UC Berkeley, oxytocin was injected into older mice who were showing signs of aging and muscle loss. Within nine days of the injection, their muscle mass improved to within 80% of that of the younger mice. Wendy Cousins, coauthor of the Nature Communications study says, “This is good because it demonstrates that extra oxytocin boosts aged tissue stem cells without making muscle stem cells divide uncontrollably.”

Friends laughing

Oxytocin Increases Happiness
Paul Zak, PhD, hypothesized that there was a direct correlation between well-being and happiness and oxytocin, at least for women. To test his theory, he drew blood from 60 female college students after receiving a gift from a stranger of $24. The women were given the option of returning a portion of the money or keeping it. The women were also required to fill out a survey on their satisfaction with life. Results showed that women who showed a larger increase in oxytocin after receiving the money reported being more satisfied with life and were also more likely to share their money with the stranger. They also tended to be more trusting. According to Zak, “Those with higher oxytocin had more sex with fewer partners,” indicating a likelihood to form more long lasting relationships and be liked by others.

Oxytocin Increases Generosity
Another of Zak’s studies found that men treated with oxytocin were more likely to donate money after watching public service ads. Forty-one men were divided into two groups, one of which was given the hormone, and the other of which was given a placebo. They were then shown public service ads on topics such as smoking, drunk driving, and global warming. Zak says, “Those on placebo donated to 21% of the ads, those on oxytocin, 33%.” The men given the hormone donated 56% more money than those given the placebo.

Oxytocin and Social Anxiety
Researcher Jason Yee, PhD, says that oxytocin can help relieve anxiety in social situations. Prairie voles are known to form strong monogamous bonds. Yee exposed the animals to a brief period of stress, and then gave them oxycontin to reduce anxiety and compared the recovery from stress in the animals who recovered alone to those who recovered cuddling with another prairie vole. Yee found that those who were assigned a partner showed less anxiety, and were less likely to try to escape from their cage.

What do you think of professional huggers? Yay or nay? Let us know what you think about paying for hugs.

Woman using barbells

Use Muscle, Don't Lose It

We’ve all seen it. The celebrity weight transformations. A celebrity gets a role and that calls for an actor with a muscular physique and all of a sudden they’ve transformed into the “Incredible Hulk,” seemingly overnight, adding masses of muscle to their formerly moderate frames, only to slim down just as quickly to normal or even emaciated proportions depending on their next role. Of course they will openly discuss how they “bulked up” or “slimmed down” with tales of excessive carb, consumption and exhausting workouts or stories of food deprivation worthy of a homeless orphan.

However, while we are used to the seemingly impossible becoming commonplace in Hollywood, we hope for a more stable body weight for ourselves. When we build muscle, we generally hope to maintain it, but we need to use it to make sure we don’t lose it.

The Bad News
If you don’t start exercising now, your muscles will shrink by the time your are seventy. Two recent studies found that the atrophy of muscles previously though to be a normal part of aging is not inevitable.

One study used MRI snapshots to compare muscle mass in the mid thighs of athletes aged 40 to 81. Images revealed not much difference between the younger and older athletes and found very little decrease in mid thing muscles with age. In contrast, in healthy but sedentary 70 year old, the results were very different, showing a significant decrease in muscle mass.

Another study looked at the “motor units” of the leg muscles. Motor units are the basic units of the muscles, each of which is connected to a single neuron. It is believed the part of the general weakening that occurs with age is attributed to the atrophy of the motor units. The study revealed a close similarity in the number of motor units of 60 and 20 year old runners. However, this did not apply to the arm muscles, with older runners and non runners alike experiencing similar decline in the motor units of the arms.

Woman with prominent biceps

The Good News
The loss of muscle mass, also known as sarcopenia, can be managed with exercise. Exercise stimulates the release of hormones crucial to healthy muscle mass, such as the growth hormone, crucial to the mechano growth factor. Exercise can also prevent the loss of essential bone and muscle associated with aging.

Although aerobic exercise is great for the cardiovascular system and effective in keeping down fat levels, it is only mildly helpful in maintaining the lean body mass you already have. When it comes to the preserving and increasing lean mass, resistance training is the way to go. The Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises strength training, such as using weights, machines, bands, and other devices to promote mobility, improve fitness, and increase bone density.

The Big Four For Muscle Building
Because your body is made primarily of “push and pull” muscles, it is important to focus on exercises that focus on those movements. The squat is a great whole body “push” exercise and should be coupled with a whole body “push-pull” like the deadlift, which incorporates core and lower body muscles. For the upper body, the bench press and barbell row are the two main lifts to incorporate into your strength training routine. Doing these will let you minimize finishing exercises for the abs and calves.

How are you using your muscles? Let us know! You’re looking great!

Woman examines her wrinkles in the mirror.

Skin Care Science: Can the Aging Process Really be Slowed?

It is a fact that we are living longer than ever before in history. The National Institute on Aging states:  “In 1970, the average life expectancy at birth in the United States was 70.8 years; in 2008, it was 78 years; and by 2020, the U.S. Census Bureau projects life expectancy will reach 79.5 years.” Not only are we living longer, but our quality of life is steadily improving. Chronic illnesses, diseases and disabilities that were once considered an inevitable part of the aging process are becoming less significant and more manageable. The truth is that aging itself is inevitable, but Resveralife tries to show you ways to slow signs and symptoms of the aging process.

Picture of natural antioxidants such as fruits and vegetables.

Antioxidants
One of the most talked about areas of health today is the importance of antioxidants. Antioxidants help to protect the body against damage from environment such as free-radicals. Antioxidants are not only beneficial to physical health, but also to the appearance of skin and body. Fruits and vegetables are high in antioxidants and there is research that suggests that increasing the intake of of fresh produce can have a decidedly positive effect on health.

A pen drawing the chemical formula of estrogen.

Hormones
Hormones are an important component of much of our lives. As children hormones help us grow into our teenage years. Hormones are largely responsible for other bodily changes, such as menopause.  When we reach older age, the level of hormones in our bodies begins to decline, though experts are not quite sure why this happens. There is a story regarding hormones:  once hormones are replenished in the body the experience of aging is drastically altered. People who have used hormone therapies say that they experience life as they did when they were young and some go so far as to claim that hormone therapies have slowed their aging. There is little research to support that hormones act as a veritable “fountain of youth.” Because there are multiple theories regarding hormone therapies, experts suggest taking supplements or medications that are prescribed by a physician only.

Woman in white holding a glass of red wine.

Reservatrol
Reservatrol is a compound that can be found in grapes, red wines and nuts. While the idea of drinking some Chianti and grabbing a handful of peanuts to combat aging is desirable, the reality is a little more complex than this. The National Institutes on Health cites a study by a staff member at Harvard Medical School that does indeed point to the fact that reservatrol affects the mitochondria, the portion of the cell responsible for energy. The research demonstrated that reservatrol does activate enzymes known as sirtuins. While red wine in moderation may help to slow aging, it is best to consult a doctor prior to beginning reservatrol supplements. That being said, the ideal way of making the best use of resveratrol is to use for skin products that contain this anti-aging ingredient.

The most effective way to slow aging is to maintain a healthy, active lifestyle. A diet full of whole grains, fresh produce and lean meats and dairy products will provide the necessary vitamins and nutrients needed for a healthy, strong body. A proper skin care routine will protect your skin from accelerated aging and free radical damage. Moderate exercise for 20 to 30 minutes five times a week also keeps the muscles strong. While the aging process can be slowed, it is going to happen. Aging gracefully always includes a healthy diet, proper skin care, strong body and sense of humor.