How does watercress reduce visible signs of skin ageing and help prevent the effects of UVr induced skin damage?
How can watercress reduce skin ageing?
Our skin is made up of two layers, the Epidermis which is the upper layer and the Dermis, the lower layer. There are two factors that describe skin ageing, Intrinsic & Extrinsic; Intrinsic which is the natural process of ageing, and Extrinsic which is the ageing process affected by external factors. These include UV radiation, smoking and other chemicals we are exposed to during daily activities.
UV induced skin ageing is indicated by decreased collagen & elastin production and increased production of MMP's 1,2 3 & 9. Matrix Metalloproteinases (MMPs) are enzymes activated by UV exposure or inflammation. MMPs contribute to the breakdown of collagen while inhibiting new collagen formation. The effect of this sunlight radiation is premature ageing of our skin and the good news is that it can be reduced with watercress. When watercress is chewed or blitzed in a smoothie, a compound called isothiocyanate (ITC) is created and it affects our bodies in two ways:
1. Directly by suppressing the breakdown of collagen and elastin and also by increasing the production of the collagen (gene COLA1). Collagen is very important for skin appearance as it enhances skin’s elasticity, preventing and protecting against the appearance of cellulite and wrinkles.
2. Indirectly, with a process of reducing oxidative stress and inflammatory response. It also assists with the very important process of turning toxins locked in our bodies in a fat-soluble form into a water-soluble form (that can then be excreted from the body). This is done through sulphur based amino-acids (found in watercress and other cruciferous plants). This is called Phase 2 detoxification. Here Dr Beth Westie ( a Women's Health & Nutrition Expert) explains how fat soluble toxins stored in your body are broken down into water-soluble waste.
If you have a specific question as a journalist or nutritionist and would like to gain further insight into the work mentioned above we can put you in touch with Professor of Cellular & Molecular Sciences Mihalis I. Panagiotidis, BSc, MSc, PhD at Northumbria University, Department of Applied Sciences who is the author of work relating to the topics produced on this page.