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How to Use Oxygen to Improve Skin

Updated on March 12, 2011

We can live for several weeks without food, a day or two without water, but only a few minutes without air.

Although it's invisible and untouchable, oxygen is all around us. The air we breathe is composed of around 21 per cent oxygen or Or The rest is made up of other gases, mostly nitrogen (78 per cent) together with small amounts of carbon dioxide (3 per cent) and traces of rarer elements such as helium and ozone.

Many ancient traditions taught that air, rather than food, gives us vitality. They showed great insight for oxygen is the vital spark that releases the energy necessary for powering all of life's processes.

In biochemical terms oxygen reacts with glucose to produce carbon dioxide, water and energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is essentially a cell's energy currency. This process is going on constantly in every living cell of our bodies and to ensure it happens smoothly and swiftly we need a continuous supply of oxygen.

Every Breath You Take

With every breath we draw oxygen deep down into the lungs. These organs, which look a little like spongy bunches of grapes, have very fine walls which are richly supplied with blood cap­illaries. Every minute the lungs receive as much blood as the rest of the entire body. Because the linings are so thin - just two cell layers thick -gases pass from the lungs to the bloodstream with ease. As oxygen moves into the blood, carbon dioxide, the by-product of energy production, diffuses out.

Oxygen is picked up by iron-rich haemoglo­bin, the ruby pigment present in red blood cells. It is then whisked swiftly away to every cell in the body in blood vessels that branch into smaller and smaller off-shoots before reaching the tiny capillaries just visible beneath the skin's surface. Here oxygen diffuses out of the blood and into the cells in exchange for carbon dioxide which is then carried back to the lungs. Then the whole process happens again.

Optimizing Oxygen

To ensure skin receives ample supplies of oxygen, it helps to keep the lungs in good con­dition. New research shows that eating fresh fruits and vegetables helps us to breathe more easily. The more you eat, the better your lung function will be. While vitamin A or beta­carotene keeps the linings of the lungs healthy and protects them from pollutant particles, other antioxidant nutrients such as vitamin C and E also appear to keep the airways healthy.

  • Eat lots of fresh green vegetables, especially peas, broccoli, spring greens, dark green cabbage, parsley and courgettes.
  • Drink plenty of tomato juice and use tomatoes in cooking.
  • Nibble on sunflower seeds.
  • Sip infusions of marshmallow or sip elderberry syrup diluted with pure spring water. Both marshmallow and elderberry are excellent tonics for the lungs.

The hemoglobin pigment in blood enables it to absorb four times as much oxygen as water. But hemoglobin relies on iron to do this and a lack of this mineral causes anemia, the symptoms of which are similar to those of altitude sickness (oxygen levels at high altitudes are low). Lack of oxygen causes us to feel breathless, dizzy, lethar­gic, nauseous and faint on exertion. When skin does not get enough of this energizing nutrient it becomes pale and lifeless. You can eat lots of iron-rich foods, but the mineral will not be properly absorbed unless vitamin C is present too.

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