BREAK­THROUGH

Amazing Wellness - - BEAUTY INSIDE & OUT -

SMOOTH, SUP­PLE SKIN IS A NAT­U­RAL HALL­MARK OF YOUTH—AND ONE we pur­sue with great ded­i­ca­tion. Some of this youth­ful magic can be at­trib­uted to com­pounds called ce­ramides, which nat­u­rally di­min­ish with age. But if re­cent re­search is cor­rect, top­i­cal and oral ce­ramides may be one of the keys to slow­ing the efects of time.

Here’s how the aging process works: the outer layer of skin— the stra­tum corneum—is made up of fat­tened, dead skin cells ar­ranged in over­lap­ping lay­ers; th­ese lay­ers cre­ate a bar­rier that blocks tox­ins and germs, holds in mois­ture, and helps the deeper lay­ers of skin re­tain their youth­ful sup­ple­ness. Tese lay­ers are held in place by ce­ramides, fatty struc­tures that “ce­ment” the dead skin cells to­gether, keep­ing them from fak­ing away and lock­ing in wa­ter mol­e­cules. Ce­ramides also in­hibit elas­tase, an en­zyme that breaks down elastin.

Ev­ery 40 days or so, the dead cells on the outer layer of skin are re­placed by fresh, living cells that rise to the sur­face from the deeper lay­ers of skin. But as we age, cell turnover slows sig­nif­cantly. Like­wise, when we’re young, the body man­u­fac­tures plenty of ceramide mol­e­cules that nour­ish skin. How­ever, as we age, the body’s pro­duc­tion of ce­ramides slows, re­sult­ing in thin­ning of the skin’s outer layer, a sub­se­quent less­en­ing in mois­ture re­ten­tion, in­creased wrin­kling, and loss of fex­i­bil­ity and smooth­ness.

Here’s the good news: new stud­ies are show­ing that sup­ple­men­tal ce­ramides can sup­port skin struc­ture, pro­tect against mois­ture loss, and main­tain smooth­ness and elas­tic­ity of skin.

Orig­i­nally de­rived from an­i­mal sources, usu­ally bovine, newer ver­sions—called “phy­to­ce­ramides” for “plant”— come from wheat, sweet potato, or rice. Gen­er­ally, ce­ramides are avail­able in two pri­mary forms: top­i­cal and oral. Many creams, lo­tions and serums con­tain ce­ramides, from plant sources or in the form of

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