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This appeared in the July 2002 edition of Professional Beauty Magazine. This is a magazine for the professional beauty therapist and not for the general public. But these days I think our client is educated and sophisticated enough to read it. Surprisingly most of it is still very relevant today….

(Apologies for quality of the photos taken from the magazine)

My disclaimer to start….

It is the intent of this article to give you information regarding cellular structure and its roll in the ageing process. I see our role as aestheticians, as teachers and educators of our clients. Preventative measures using basic principles of diet and lifestyle in conjunction with any treatments and products should go hand in hand. The first half of Part 1 of this article lays the foundation for the principles given in the second half. Part 2, to be featured in the September issue looks at the bigger picture in relation to the 10 “Biomarkers of Ageing” as listed by Tufts University.

Part 1 – Cellular Mechanics

Every glossy magazine you pick up displays a myriad of anti-ageing cosmetics, treatment procedures and recommendations for turning back the clock, to reduce and stop the ageing process. For a newly trained esthetician and even us “old timers”, this mind-numbing array of information needs careful evaluation to assess a  products capability and realistic outcome.

Every day we work with a number of products for ageing problems, but there is a much bigger picture to consider. What we as aestheticians put on the outside has to compliment, or in some cases reverse, what is occurring on the inside. Diet and lifestyle factors balance the internal and external health of the client in combination with the mental and emotional well-being. When looking at the ageing process we know that it is a combination of many factors including genetics, sun exposure, environmental insults, stress and much more.

The body continuously replaces worn-out cells by the millions every day of our lives. Then by the time we reach full growth (around 22-25 years) its rate of replacement gradually slows down the older we get. Ageing and death have been programmed into us and it is believe we have a fixed lifespan to a maximum 120 years. To understand this, we will first look at what happens on a cellular level.

The role of DNA

A cell nucleus, during cell division or mitosis, contains chromosomes. These are made up of two DNA molecules, each with complimentary strands wound around each other to form a double helix. DNA is genetic material that holds the code for all the proteins of the cell. This code needs to be exact for each protein type made in the body. (fig. 1)

In humans, approximately 10,000000 (10[7]) cells divide per second. A structural defect in a gene is called a mutation and may arise spontaneously, or may be caused by radiation or chemical exposure. Estimates suggest that spontaneous mutations arise in about a third of these cells. (Marnett, 2001) Therefore, we are making 3.3 million faulty cells every second. This means that under normal circumstances we are in a constant state of repair. These mutations are increased when we take into account poor diet, smoking, chemical or radiation exposure.

Mutation Correcton Happens Through Two Types of Repair Processes as Outlined Below:-

  1. Direct reversal of DNA damage where enzymes are utilised to correct identified mismatches
  2. Excision repair where damaged DNA is recognised and removed, and the gap is resynthesised

Effective DNA Repair is Essential to the Cell. Repair Processes May be Ineffective Due to:-

  • Very high rate of mutations
  • Inherited defect in DNA repair genes
  • Poor nutrition support to the repair process

(Metagenics 2001)

Programmed Senescence Theory

At each end of a chromosome are numerous structures called telomeres. (fig.1) With each cellular division the telomeres shorten by being trimmed off during each cell cycle, until eventually the whole telomere disappears. With the telomere gone the DNA is irreparably damaged and the cell can no longer reproduce.

The enzyme telomerase reconstructs the telomeres but is only active in sperm, ocyte and the developing foetus. Telomerase is is coded as a gene in every cell, but is switched off following birth. giving only a set number of replications per cell. The only time telomerase is activated after this is in cancer cells, where for some unknown reason the telomeres do not shorten, making them immortal, they do not stop dividing and they do not die. (Kimball, 2001)

Many studies are trying to work out how to turn on telomerase, without producing cancer, thereby slowing or stopping the ageing process. This will have a positive effect on all degenerative diseases like blindness, stroke, heart disease and arthritis. The frightening thing is that if they can somehow turn on telomerase in each cell in humans, we could become immortal, with life spans up to and exceeding 300 years of age.

Understanding the Cell Cycle

Before a cell enters mitosis or cell division, it undergoes a series of events that prepares it. Following mitosis the cell can go into resting or GO phase (this is outside G1 – through stimmulation it enters G1 phase). It is here most of the cells’ growth and activity takes place. The S or synthesis stage is where the DNA replication occurs. The G2 phase is where final preparation for cell division occurs, and finally, the cell division takes place in the M (or mitosis) phase which breaks down into further phases. (See Fig.2)

Throughout this process various cell cycle checkpoints occur. Checkpoints are mechanisms that regulate progression through the cell cycle ensuring that each step takes place only once, and in right sequence, they also interrupt the cell cycle if something goes wrong. For eample the p53 protein senses DNA damage and can halt progression of the cell cycle in both G1 and G2 phase.

According to Kimball, in some way p53 seems to evaluate the extent of damage to DNA, at least for damage by radiation.

  • At low levels of radiation, producing damage that can be repaired, p53 triggers arrest of the cell cycle until the damage is repaired
  • A high levels of radiation, producing hopelessly damaged DNA, p53 triggers apoptosis, forcing damaged cells to commit suicde. (Kimball, J.W. 2001)

How is This of Interest To Us?

This is of interest for those who expose themselves to radiation such as with sun lovers. The p53 gene is damaged by repeated exposure. Under these circumstances it can no longer function to protect the cell from mutation and cancer. The pathogenic agents for these changes are UV-generated Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) that deplete and damage antioxidant defence systems of the skin. (Scharffetter-Kochanek K. et al 2000) This is just one of the problems that can occur within the cell cycle and picked up at checkpoints.

DNA and Protein Synthesis

The outer membrane of the nuclear envelope is continuous with a series of membranes distributed throughout the cytoplasm of the cell. Rough endoplasmic reticulum has attached ribosome for the production of proteins. (Fig. 3) Normal cell structure and function would not be possible without proteins, which form the cytoskeleton and other structural components of cells and function as transport molecules, receptors, and enzymes. In addition, proteins secreted from cells perform vital functions. Collagen is a structural protein that gives tissues flexibility and strength; enzymes control chemical reactions of food digestion in the intestines; and protein hormones regulate the activities of many tissues. (seeley R.R. et al, 1992) Proteins are made up of amino acids, and the sequence of amino acids is determined by the sequence of bases in the DNA of the gene (see description in The Role of DNA, above). The process of duplicating the DNA code to produce proteins is complex and many investigators propose that cellular damage may occur during replication of the DNA code to produce thise proteins. (McCance K.L. et al, 1994)

The Mighty Mitochondria

The mitochondrion is a fascinating cellular organielle whose role it is to utilise oxygen in the production of energy in the form of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP). (fig. 3) It goes through an amazing array of complex chemical reactions using ensymes, cofactors and minerals to metabolise food. The process of energy production of oxidative phosphorylation is Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) that includes free radicals. Free radicals are each missing an electron, which they steal from perfectly healthy molecules in your body. The daily bombardment of your cells by these free radicals (approximately 10,000 hits per cell/per day) begins to break down your body, molecule by molecule. This is called “oxidative stress”.

Many other cell functions produce free radicals. Such functions include: inflammation, the metobism of arginine, and from the enzymes: oxidases. Externally there are also many sources of oxidative stress from things such as drugs and chemical toxicity, including from smoking, overuse of alcohol, and exposure to heavy metals like cadmium, mercury, and other toxins in the air we breathe as well as in the water we drink, nutritional deficiencies, a junk food diet, x-rays and radiation, and even emotional or physical stress (Lee W.H. et al, 1995)

All this damage can result in a poorly functioning cell, unwanted immune responses, cancer or opoptosis (cellular death).

Lets Not Forget Immune Function!

Keeping the immune system in balance is imortant to cellular function. A hyper or hypo immune system brings about degeneration at an accelerated pace. As we age, diet and lifestyle factors erode our immune system making us more prone to allergy, sensitivities, illness and infections. With 70% of the immune cells concentrated in the digestive tract, digestive function is important to maintain this balance. Langerhans cells in the skin react to nutritional imbalances just the same as external influences such as, environment and radiation or a product that is too acid or alkaline.

The Aestheticians Roll in Anti-Ageing

Now you have this information, where do you go from here? With up to 90% of the major degenerative diseases associated with the ageing process attributed to diet and lifestyle factors; we can do a lot to educate our clients in the importance of nutrition.

There is increasing evidence that dietary changes alone can increase life expectancy by up to 40%. Digestive function affects the liver, which in turn affects hormonal balance and all other systems, including how someone handles stress due to adrenal function. Education is a must – learning about the inter-relationships of internal systems with the effects of the skin. This is essential to happy and long-term clients.

Getting Back to Basics

If you look at research over the last 5 years, the bottom line in virtually all research papers comes down to increasing your daily intake of fruit and vegetables. Medical science constantly reminds us that good nutrition and good health go hand-in-hand…..especially when it comes to the health benefits of eating fresh, raw fruit and vegetables.

“Plants make a variety of compounds in response to environmental stress, many of which function as antioxidants when consumed. The plants’ own defences against oxidative stress can be used to your benefit, prolonging your life by acquiring their protection. By eating plenty of vegetables and fruit, you may help to significantly reduce the risk of many age-related degenerative disease.” (Foyer C. H. et al, 2001)

Medical research also suggests that getting nutrients from whole food sources, fresh fruit and vegetables, is much better than supplementing the diet with specific, isolated and fragmented nutrients…..the “antioxidant of the month” approach. The recommendation is that we eat the minimum of seven (Canada has increased this to ten {and at the time of writing this now, the WHO – World Health Organisation – is 13}) serves of fresh raw fruit and vegetables, preferably organic, every day. THis is essential to ensure we get all the nutrients we need like vitamins, minerals, enzymes (which are destroyed in heating above 40 degrees C), antioxidants (and there are over 800 of them tissue specific in their actions), phytochemicals and fibre.

Phytochemicals are chemicals found in food naturally. These extend beyond the known vitamins and minerals. Research has uncovered dozens of totally new health-protecting substances that have major health benefits and is continually discovering the interactions of these phytochemicals with the known antioxidants. For example, indoles (indole-3-Carbinol) from cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, brussels sprouts, broccoli and kale induce protective enzymes, regulate estrogen receptor function and induce apoptosis of damaged cells. (Telang N.T. et al, 1997) Lycopene, a potent carotenoid antioxidant found in tomatoes, watermellon and pink grapefruit has been shown to protect DNA from oxidative damage, reducing cell cycle abnormalities that may lead to abnormal cell function (cancer) in hormone-sensitive tissues. (Karas M. et al, 2000)

Yes, there are supplements out there that can provide you with some of the known vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, but you take the risk of missing out on that essential micronutrient that pulls them all together. When individual antioxidants are isolated from other antioxidants, they become less effective and can sometimes have adverse effects. Anitoxidants are tissue speicific and on neutralising a free radical they themselves become a weak form of a free radical. It is the synergy of whole food, with over 10,000 phytochemicals that is important to health.

Micronutrient deficiency may explain, in good part, why the quarter of the population that eats the fewest fruit and vegetables has approximatedly double the cancer rate for most types of cancer when compared to the quarter with the highest intake. (Ames B.N., 1998) And all those fruit and vegetables we do eat tend to be over-processed, over cooked, gassed or picked green and reipened in storage all affecting antioxidant levels. (Plus bring it forward to today – GMOs are a big concern with our food)

Rather than fragmented or isolated vitamin and mineral supplements for yourself and your clients, why not look at wholefood supplementation. I use and recommend the only supplement that I know that had numerous independent research papers on its effectiveness called Juice Plus+. Juice Plus+ contains 17 fresh raw, vine-ripened fruit, vegetables and grains (have since added the berry formula and the omega formulas to their range) with no preservatives, herbicides, pesticides or toher toxins, and less the salt and sugar supplied in a capsule for the majority of the population that don’t get the required minimum serves of seven fruit and vegetables in their diet every day. Whole food supplementation is safe, you cannot overdose and the best thing is that is doesn’t get flushed down the toilet like other supplements due to the phytochemicals and nutrients being in small enough quantities to be recognised and utilised by the body.

Remedying micronutrient deficiencies is likely to lead to a major improvement in health and increase in longevity at low cost. Ideally get your clients to eat enough fresh raw fruit and vegetables everyday to stay healthy. If this is not possible due to lifestyle factors, why not look at supplementation? Along with this it is advisable to recommend a wellness program to your clients. This involves plenty of fresh air and exercise (muscle mass has been listed as the number one biomarker for ageing form the leading anti-ageing researchers at Tufts University), adequate amounts of water to keep the urine clear, work on posture (this aids digestion and hormonal balance), plenty of sleep to assist repair and maintenance, rest and relaxation to get the brainwaves from beta to alpha, and recommend they have fun. Nurture that inner child; get the happy hormones into play instead of the destructive negative cascade associated with stress and negativity.

Ageing is not just skin deep and it doesn’t only happen to the face; it’s a whole body experience. Ageing is a process of degeneration and what your client does outside your salon door has a big influence on the results yo get when they come inside. Educate your clients to work with you and the rewards will be there

Although it is not very clear, if you want to more info on the references please let me know