Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Self Improvement 10.02

I am still running, trying to go every other day at sunset.  I'm a little concerned for my knees and ankles since running is a little rough on the joints - and because I am doing an orthopedic surgery rotation, images of the inside of people's knees keep on popping into my head while I run.  I just picture the bones pressing down, my menisci bending side to side... it's amazing how much wear and tear joints get, and yet considering how much weight they carry, it's also amazing that they last at all.  I think I am going to start taking Glucosamine to preserve my joints (not Chondroitin, which clinical studies have failed to show is more effective than placebo).    

So, running.  That's self-improvement #1.

Also, still working on eating properly - I tend to do pretty well, aside from when my boyfriend cooks a huge meal or I have a really bad craving.  I am doing a mini-experiment.  I like garnet yams, great source of vitamin A - you know that somewhere between 100-400% of your daily required vitamin A can be found in one medium sized yam?  (I tried looking, the numbers were all over the place).  Also a great source of vitamin C.  Now, I have periodic acne, emphasis on "period"-ic.  I usually have one active spot though no matter what day it is, and I am currently controlling it with an antibiotic at night, Skinceuticals 0.5% retinol cream, and Skinceuticals daily moisture for oily skin.  This combination seems to do a good job not aggravating my skin, and I'll throw in the occasional exfoliation when my skin feels congested.  

Now...the rationale behind these treatments (and trust me there is a point to this):

The antibiotic is Doxycycline, a Tetracyline antibiotic, it works as a bacteriostatic agent, meaning it stops them from replicating - it doesn't kill them, but it slows them down.  Doxycycline also has some anti-inflammatory effects as well, which always helps with acne as well, since acne is an inflammatory process.  Side effects include upset stomach (I take it at night now because it'll cause nausea in the morning), cannot be taken any time close to dairy products because Calcium deactivates it, photosensitivity, and it can cause bone deformations in fetuses and children under the age of 8, so only non-pregnant people over age 8.  

Retinol, or retinoic acid, is a vitamin A derivative that, while very toxic if ingested (Accutane, a last-ditch but very effective cystic acne treatment) can increase skin turnover when applied topically.  This increased turnover helps to decrease acne and decrease wrinkles.  Side effects include dry skin, irritation, worst case you can have a severe skin reaction.  

Now, dietary vitamin A is not the same thing as retinol, however it does concentrate in significant amounts in the skin.  Remember people saying if you eat too many carrots you'll turn orange?  Well, technically it's true, just doesn't happen often unless someone goes on an all-V8 diet.  Vitamin A is also an antioxidant, as is vitamin C, which is necessary for collagen formation (think scurvy, or vitamin C deficiency, with bleeding gums and bruising).  

The experiment is this: Will ingesting more dietary vitamin A and vitamin C improve my acne and skin in general?  It is extremely healthy, a good source of fiber, a good source of antioxidants, and tastes good.  I shall be eating 1/2 of a baked garnet yam per day, and in one month if my skin is better then I shall conclude that it may be helpful.  

On another note, I am hoping to get the Aveda Black Malva shampoo and conditioner because it has pigment in it that is supposed to help darken hair - this way I can have darker hair without using harsh dyes, and Aveda products smell pretty great. I used to use Pureology, but they are even more expensive than Aveda - it's on my birthday list, if I don't get it then I will buy it myself. I can't wait to use it!  

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