The Effect of Cortisol Control and Collagen on a Beautiful FACE
Why is it important to control cortisol? Well, cortisol is the primary hormone that our bodies secrete when we are under stress. This means that whenever we're under stress, we're exposed to cortisol. Cortisol isn't bad in and of itself. It's a normal part of our physiological makeup. The problem occurs when we're exposed to too much of it on a chronic basis-a scenario that is all too common in today's fast-paced, overbooked way of living.
Because of cortisol's wide-ranging influence on other important aspects of metabolism (especially those metabolic pathways associated most closely with "aging"), it is often called the "death hormone." This is a fairly accurate nickname: Cortisol is a hormone that tends to increase with age, and our increased exposure to cortisol as we age has been linked to breakdown and dysfunction in every tissue in the body. This breakdown of our tissue does, in a real sense, bring us closer to death and age us unnecessarily before our time. So whether we're talking about skin or heart muscle or brain neurons, it makes sense to address cortisol as sort of a master switch in the metabolism of aging.
Since cortisol is basically the controller of the four metabolic pathways in the FACE program, we need to control it in order to slow down the skin's aging process, treat and prevent problem skin, and promote radiant, healthy skin. When we do this, we get unexpected perks: Controlling cortisol also produces beneficial results in terms of weight loss, improved mood, and enhanced libido! This is not to say that cortisol is the only metabolic pathway that needs to be addressed in order to promote healthy skin, but considering its profound effect on the body's functioning, cortisol control is the most logical place to start.
One major way that cortisol earns its tag as the death hormone is through its destructive effect on collagen, the most abundant protein in the human body (about a third of all the proteins ) and the chief structural component of skin tissues (about 90 percent). Collagen serves as the primary framework on which all the major structures in our body, including our skin, are built. It's what wards off lines and wrinkles, and it is about the closest thing we have to a fountain of youth.
The health of our skin and bones is affected by how well we metabolize collagen-that is, how well our systems make collagen available to our bodies for productive use. Collagen metabolism can be influenced by our eating habits, exercise patterns, and lifestyles. When we are under stress (and this even includes the "stress" of dieting), our cortisol levels increase, contributing to a faster breakdown of tissues that contain collagen, such as bone and skin.
Another source of collagen destruction is the drying-out process that comes with aging. However, there are ways to reduce this destruction and promote the synthesis of stronger collagen fibers. Most people try to do this by using topical cosmetics that deliver lubricants and moisturizers back to the surface of the skin in an attempt to slow the aging process. Some of these topical remedies are natural and work well with the body's own self-healing tendency, as you will learn in Chapter 11, "Putting It All Together." However, the entire premise of this book is that the best, most natural way to care for your skin is to provide nourishment from the inside. Through stress-reduction changes in lifestyle, balanced nutrition, dietary supplements, and exercise, you can control the amount of cortisol that gets released into your bloodstream during stress. This can greatly help bring the collagen-turnover process into balance, and it can even tip the scales slightly in your favor when it comes to repairing vital connective tissues and preventing (or at least delaying) some of the conditions that we normally associate with aging.
If you are still too young to require antiaging advice and your concern is treating and preventing problem skin-for example, if your situation is not dry skin but the opposite: oily, acne-prone skin-my FACE program will start you on a regimen of inside-out skin care while you are young. Since this is a program that makes you feel better as well as look better, it can grow with you very comfortably through the years, so that when your skin becomes more mature, it will have the long-term benefit of the FACE foundation.