DID YOU KNOW that your skin is your largest organ? Yes, it is considered an organ and you certainly know it when something goes wrong and you itch, chafe, or burn. Most people don’t take the care they should (men, take note!) and often, dry, rough skin is the result. Golfers can be especially susceptible to skin problems because of over-exposure to the sun and wind, to pesticides which can transfer to your ball, your clubs, or your clothing, to plants and weeds in strange places while looking for a lost ball, to reactions from newer tech fabrics, and to insect sprays you apply pre-round. As you age, moisture doesn’t hold on as well, collagen breaks down, and of course, dear old gravity takes its toll. While you can’t do much about the effects of Old Man Time, there are some things you can do to keep your skin healthy. Here are a few tips to help:
Vitamin E is one of your skin’s best friends: you can get this by eating almonds. You can also take Vitamin E tablets or break them open and use as a topical oil.
Flax seeds, oats, and Omega 3’s: these little gems are great for age spots, fine lines and wrinkles. A half-teaspoon a day of flaxseed or meals of salmon every so often will keep you hydrated, and will also ease redness and skin irritations. Oats are one of the best all-around foods for general good health.
Cooked tomatoes and watermelon are full of free radical fighting lycopene, which will help decrease the aging of your skin. These items are plentiful now so stock up and eat.
Vitamin C smooths out wrinkles by sparking your collagen production. Get this great vitamin (good for preventing colds too….) by eating sweet potatoes, papaya, and citrus fruits.
Spinach isn’t just food for Popeye: the folates in this powerhouse veggie help repair DNA, which can stop cancer cell growth in its tracks. Eat it cooked, in salads, or throw it in your pasta sauce: guaranteed you’ll hardly know you’re eating it…that is, if you are not a fan.
Canned tuna has a special surprise: Selenium, a mineral which promotes elasticity in your skin, keeping it smooth. It is also an antioxidant, again keeping free radicals at bay. Eat a tuna sandwich instead of automatically reaching for that hot dog at the turn. If your course doesn’t stock them, you can always ask.
Carrots are ‘wonder wands’: good for the eyes but also great for clearing up breakouts. Why? Vitamin A, which you may know as Retinol or as an active ingredient in Retin-A; this vitamin also reduces the development of skin cancer cells.
Dark Chocolate: besides being tasty, the flavonols in this delicacy reduce roughness in the skin and provide sun protection.
A word about sun block: I am not a fan of sunscreen and know I’ll get lambasted by those who live by it, but my opinion is that ever since we as a population have been told to stay out of the sun (and if we do go out, to slather on the SPF 35+ and ‘don’t leave home without it’), the incidence of skin cancer has gone up. Wonder if it might have anything to do with all the chemicals that make up sunscreen? There are those who will blame ‘global warming’ and the depletion of the ozone layer. Who really knows? Much has also been said about dangerously low Vitamin D levels, which of course you get from being in the sun. Vitamin D is a huge cancer fighter and if its absorption is blocked by sunscreen or you’re simply not getting any, you will have an issue. People comment on my dark complexion all the time, lecturing me about the sun. However, I am part Cherokee Indian and get dark at a moment’s notice. As a golfer and outdoorswoman, I am outside a lot. But you won’t see me get anywhere near a tanning booth. I am all about staying natural, not artificial. I try to stick with Mother Nature and her wisdom: without the sun, plants will not grow and the cycle of life would end. We would die. Simple as that. But, if you are fair-skinned and prone to burning, DO NOT try to tan because you will never get dark. Cover up and follow the nutritional tips above. If you see suspicious looking growths, tags, or spots on your body, get in to see a dermatologist immediately. I’m making my appointment now….for prevention.
Hormonal changes can also result in dry, flaky skin. If you are over 40 and have never had a complete blood panel or hormone panel done (for women, especially), I’d suggest you do it. Deficiencies will show up and you may discover your numbers need some help. Many women, about 40%, develop thyroid conditions during peri-menopause and menopause, which can begin even in your thirties. If strange things are happening to your skin or your weight, insist on a Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) test as well as a T-3 and T-4 test for how well your thyroid gland metabolizes the thyroid hormone you are producing. If your doctor says you don’t need any of these tests, find another doctor. Many are woefully under-educated in these areas.
I am in that 40% that did develop a thyroid problem, though it took over four years for anyone to figure it out. Even then, I was told my numbers were OK. They weren’t. Finally, I researched it myself and have been able to deal with the problem, getting my weight and skin issues back under control.