In my teens and twenties, I was very overweight. I lost more than 100 pounds and I’ve been in good shape ever since. Those extra pounds did leave their imprint, though. If you’ve shed a lot of weight or gone through a pregnancy you may know what I’m talking about …
I’ve had severe stretch marks since I was 16, and I still have them now, even after 100 pounds of weight loss. The stretch marks have faded. But if I had only known what has in this article when I was younger, I could have stopped them as soon as they started, or prevented them all together! I know how embarrassing and uncomfortable stretch marks are. I know what it feels like to look down at your thighs and feel more like a zebra than you should.
From creams, to lotions, to gels… probably you have tried many products out there, and felt frustrated because nothing seems to work, well, don’t feel that way, Researchers have found that most of the products sold to treat stretch marks have little to no effect on them, and the same goes for home remedies. That’s the biggest mistake the world is making while trying to get rid of stretch marks!
Stretch marks need to be treated from the inside not the outside, Stretch marks products available on the market will only help getting better results.
In order for you to get rid of stretch marks, you need to understand why stretch marks happen, and what causes stretch marks? By understanding the root cause of the problem you will be able to fix it, Just focus on what we will mention and You will never have to deal with scarring on your skin for the rest of your life.
WHY DO STRETCH MARKS HAPPEN?
A stretch mark is a tear in the middle layer of your skin: the dermis. Your skin is mostly made up of collagen and elastin, two proteins that keep your skin supple and stretchy. If your skin stretches beyond its limit, the collagen and elastin fibers will break, and you’ll be left with a stretch mark. Stretch marks are usually bright red or purple in light-skinned people and white in people with darker skin. You’re most likely to get stretch marks on your abdomen, breasts/chest, buttocks, hips, and thighs, since these are the areas with most fat tissue.
Stretch marks usually occur during pregnancy or rapid weight gain. It doesn’t matter if the weight gain is from fat storage or muscle growth – bodybuilders often get stretch marks when they put on a lot of muscle in a short amount of time. About 50% of all pregnant women get at least some stretch marks, usually in their second and third trimesters.
So why do only 50% of pregnant women get stretch marks?
Why can some people put on weight without stressing their skin?
The answer lies in your fibroblasts. Fibroblasts are skin cells that make collagen and elastin, the two proteins that keep your skin firm and elastic. Underactive fibroblasts are the reason most people get stretch marks. Decreased fibroblast function makes skin more fragile because the fibroblasts don’t create enough collagen and elastin to keep skin stretchy, and they repair damaged skin slowly. If your fibroblasts aren’t functioning well, it takes longer for your skin to recover after it’s overstretched.
“The key to preventing stretch marks is supporting your fibroblasts”.
Several factors affect fibroblasts:
Age – as you age, your fibroblasts become less efficient. Older people are more prone to getting stretch marks and wrinkles.
Genetics – some people have fibroblasts that are genetically predisposed to work longer and faster.
Hormone issues – hormonal imbalances disrupt fibroblast activity in women (and to a lesser degree in men)
Nutrition and lifestyle – these are perhaps the two most important factors in determining if you will have stretch marks or not. Nutrition provides the right building blocks for flexible skin, and a healthy balanced lifestyle will assure that you are not exposed to toxins and too much stress. Correct nutrition will also support healthy hormone function.
Your age may be set, but you can influence all the other factors on this list to help prevent stretch marks. Hormone imbalances can be fixed and you can adjust your diet and lifestyle. Your habits and hormones can turn off problematic genes and turn good ones on.
HOW TO FIGHT STRETCH MARKS:
We will focus on three common reasons why your fibroblasts malfunction, and how you can address each one to make your skin as strong as possible. Three major reasons behind stretch marks are:
Molds, pesticides, and other environmental toxins
If you address these issues, your skin will be well-equipped to handle stretching from weight gain or pregnancy. Don’t be surprised if you notice lots of bonus effects, too, like brighter skin, healthier nails, faster wound healing, enhanced cognition, and an increased general sense of well-being.
STRETCH MARK CAUSE #1: HORMONAL IMBALANCE
Estrogen and progesterone are the two primary female sex hormones that regulate menstrual cycles, influence mood, determine skin flexibility and hair growth, and guide a healthy pregnancy. These hormones have a carefully balanced relationship with each other that plays a key role in stretch mark formation. Testosterone also plays a role, as too much testosterone in men and too little in women will increase inflammation and interfere with healing, including when stretch marks form.
Estrogen influences how much collagen your body makes, and progesterone and testosterone balance your estrogen. Other hormones also play a role, including cortisol (also known as the stress hormone). It is a delicate dance.
Imbalances can cause weight gain, anxiety, hair loss, low libido, and – most important for our purposes – improper fibroblast function that can lead to vivid stretch marks.
For example, if your body isn’t making enough progesterone, even a normal level of estrogen can overwhelm what little progesterone you have, leading to hormonal imbalance. If you’re constantly stressed, you’ll make cortisol instead of progesterone, which also leads to an imbalance. Because progesterone helps fibroblasts make collagen (the basic building block for skin), too little progesterone will make that skin inflexible.
It’s also common to have normal progesterone but too much estrogen, often because you’re soaking up estrogen from your food and environment. Synthetic estrogens called xenoestrogens increase the overall levels of estrogen in the body. Xenoestrogens are many times stronger than your own estrogen and they heavily disrupt your natural hormonal balance. It’s imperative to know how to avoid extra estrogen and take control over your hormones. Everything from the cleaning products you use in your home to the type of butter you eat influences your exposure to xenoestrogens
Working with a doctor
Hormones are endlessly complex, and your hormonal makeup is unique. It’s very important that you work with a good antiaging doctor or holistic physician if you’re going to alter your hormones. Anti-aging physicians typically know a great deal about hormones and can correct estrogen imbalance.
Get your hormone levels tested and review the results with your doctor. Continue testing your levels regularly, too, so you can quantify what’s working for you and what you should keep changing. This is important especially if you are in your early- to mid-forties, when your natural hormone levels begin to fluctuate.
Every single sex hormone you produce – estrogen and progesterone included – comes from cholesterol. Cholesterol is essential for maintaining balanced hormones and keeping your skin in good shape. Fat is just as important. A study of 716 aging Japanese women found that those who ate more fat, especially saturated fat, had more elastic skin and fewer wrinkles.
A low-fat diet deprives you of both fat and cholesterol. That’s bad news for your hormones and your skin. Eating plenty of quality fats is usually the easiest way to correct estrogen dominance, we recommend incorporating a lot of fat from of the following sources: wild sockeye salmon, 100% grass-fed beef and grass-fed lamb, butter from grass-fed cows, coconut and coconut oil, uncooked olive oil, avocado, raw nuts, pasture-raised eggs (with raw yolks), and pure cacao butter.
All of those foods are high in nourishing oils that your body uses to make progesterone and balance your hormones. Higher progesterone levels help you withstand stress and maintain a healthy estrogen-to-progesterone ratio.
One last thing about diet. If you’re increasing fat, decrease your carb intake. The two together spell trouble for your health, and for your skin. A 2007 study of more than 4000 women found that the combination of high fat diet along with high carbs actually caused skin to atrophy. So, pursue a highfat, low-carb diet for optimal skin health.
Stress causes your body to produce higher levels of the “flight or fight” stress hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is beneficial when you have the right amount of it. It regulates and influences your blood sugar, immune responses, anti-inflammatory actions, metabolism, and more.
However, high cortisol shuts off nonessential functions so that you have more energy for fight or flight – the boost in cortisol is meant to help you survive stressful situations. The problem is that many of us are chronically stressed by work, lack of sleep, poor diet, insufficient exercise, and other facets of modern life. When you’re chronically stressed, your body uses up most of its cholesterol to make cortisol, and there isn’t enough to make other hormones. It also converts existing progesterone into cortisol. That can lead to estrogen-progesterone imbalance that taxes your fibroblasts. If that weren’t enough, cortisol directly inhibits fibroblasts, too. Your skin is hit twice by stress – just look at before-and-after pictures of U.S. presidents. Exercise, yoga, meditation, prayer, being outdoors, sleep, and sex are all great ways to reduce stress. You can also use anti-stress supplements like magnesium and ashwagandha. If you feel like you have a high stress lifestyle and don’t know what to do, consult with a holistic doctor about reducing stress.
SUPPLEMENTING WITH BIOIDENTICAL HORMONES
If your hormones are still imbalanced after changing your diet and eliminating stressors from your life, talk to a physician about bioidentical hormonal supplementation, particularly progesterone and possibly low doses of testosterone. “Bioidentical” means the progesterone is the natural kind, like the progesterone your own body makes. Bioidentical progesterone supplementation is popular in the anti-aging community because it can increase collagen synthesis and keep your skin, joints, teeth, and hair in good shape.
HOW TO AVOID EXCESS ESTROGEN
Let’s talk about the second reason your estrogen-progesterone ratio can fall out of balance: too much estrogen.
There are several sources of estrogen in your environment. Xenoestrogens are synthetic chemicals that mimic estrogen in your body. You can find them in molds and common industrial products like plastics or synthetic scents. Phytoestrogens are plant-derived, with the most common source coming from soybeans and other soy products. Too much exposure to xenoestrogens and phytoestrogens can disrupt your natural estrogen levels. Here’s how to avoid them.
FOODS THAT CONTAIN ESTROGEN
Foods that are especially high in phytoestrogens include certain grains, seeds, and legumes, soy, alcohol (especially beer), flax, corn, wheat, and vegetable oil. Meat and butter from grain-fed animals also contain xenoestrogens, so stick to 100% grass-fed beef and lamb.
PETROCHEMICALS THAT CONTAIN ESTROGEN
Certain petrochemicals also contain xenoestrogens. Perhaps the most infamous is bisphenol-A (BPA), an ingredient found in plastic, Styrofoam, and the lining of metal cans. BPA can leach from plastic containers into foods and drinks, especially if they’re hot, and once BPA gets into your system your body treats it like estrogen.
Phthalates are estrogenic and they accumulate in your fat cells, where they continue to exert estrogenic effects. Parabens are also estrogenic. They’re common preservatives in shampoo, body wash, makeup, hair gel/pomade, and other grooming and cosmetic products. Check ingredient lists for phthalate, methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben.
Synthetic fragrances (usually listed on ingredient lists as “fragrance (parfum)”) also often contain xenoestrogens. Synthetic fragrance is in everything from shampoos and cosmetics to cleaning products and scented trash bags. Avoid perfume and cologne (unless they’re made with essential oils) and switch to fragrance-free laundry and bath products. You’ll decrease your exposure to synthetic estrogens.
Oral contraceptives like “the pill” disrupt estrogen and progesterone to prevent pregnancy. If you’re serious about stopping stretch marks and you’re using oral contraceptives now, consult with your doctor and try to find another form of contraception.
As a healthy woman, your estrogen and progesterone levels rise and fall. You have more estrogen around ovulation (follicular phase), and more progesterone toward the end of your cycle (luteal phase). If you become pregnant, your estrogen and progesterone levels remain high throughout pregnancy, to prevent your ovaries from preparing another egg. The combined estrogen/progesterone pill works by keeping hormone levels high all the time, which confuses your body into thinking you’re always pregnant.
THE TESTOSTERONE FACTOR
Testosterone helps maintain skin tone in both men and women. Get your testosterone levels checked by an anti-aging doctor, regardless of your gender. If your levels are a bit low, work with your doctor to adjust them. Don’t worry, women – the amounts prescribed in topical creams will not make your voice deepen or put a beard on your face; you may notice slightly increased muscle mass from exercise (certainly not bodybuilder proportions), a leaner body, firmer skin, and more energy.
As with progesterone, make absolutely sure that the testosterone you use is 100% bio- identical. You can also boost testosterone levels naturally by providing your body with plenty of quality fat and cholesterol, and you can supplement with magnesium (2-4 tsp per night -start slow) and vitamin D3 (1000 IU per day per 25 lbs of bodyweight). Magnesium and vitamin D3 are both key players in manufacturing testosterone. Strenuous exercise (especially lifting weights and interval training) increases testosterone as well.
Balanced hormones are a tremendously important (and often overlooked) aspect of skin health. The first step to clearer, stronger skin is getting your estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone in order. You may see all kinds of other benefits as well, like fat loss, muscle gain, and increased energy and sex drive, to name a few. Talking to your doctor and changing your diet takes some effort, but the payoff is huge.
STRETCH MARKS CAUSE #2: MOLD TOXINS
Mycotoxins are toxic chemicals produced by fungi, most commonly mold. When people talk about mycotoxins, they are usually referring to mold-produced toxins in field crops like wheat, corn, and soy. Molds produce mycotoxins as a form of self-defense; the toxins kill off organisms in the mold’s environment that may compete for food sources. The most famous mycotoxin is penicillin. Many other mold toxins are much more harmful.
List of common mycotoxins and foods that they most frequently contaminate.
Aflatoxin: Corn, cottonseed, and peanuts
Ergot: Various types of grain heads, where ergot produces dark formations called sclerotia
Trichothecenes: Corn, cereal grain, soy, and wheat
Zearalenone: Bananas, barley, corn, sorghum, and wheat
It’s incredibly important to avoid mycotoxin-laden foods, for stretch mark purposes and for far more serious reasons (mycotoxins are strongly carcinogenic).
-WHY DO MYCOTOXINS CAUSE STRETCH MARKS?
Mycotoxins promote stretch marks for three reasons. The first reason goes back to fibroblasts. Many of the symptoms people get from mycotoxins are due to the mycotoxins interfering with your fibroblasts’ cell membranes, impairing their ability to make new skin.
Second, mycotoxins cause widespread inflammation. Inflammation stresses your body, causing you to release cortisol. Chronic inflammation makes your cells less efficient and prevents them from addressing damage. That’s bad news for fibroblasts trying to repair overstretched skin.
Third, many mycotoxins are moderately-to-strongly estrogenic, and because some of them stay in your body for such a long time, they can continuously disrupt your sex hormones for weeks. If a woman is accidentally exposed to enough mycoestrogens she may even become infertile. The reason would be the same as if she were taking oral contraceptives—her body has such high levels of estrogens from the molds that it thinks she’s pregnant and shuts down normal ovulation cycles. It’s hard to believe that microscopic amounts of mold toxins can wreak so much havoc on your body, but they do. These are uncommonly powerful poisons, and it’s optimal for your skin and overall performance to avoid them.
-HOW YOU CAN AVOID MYCOTOXINS:
The two most common sources of mycotoxins are mold-prone food and mold in your environment. Grains are the primary culprit foods & Fruits, especially berries, also frequently harbor mold.
Mold toxins remain in the meat and other products of animals that eat moldy feed. These days, that includes almost any animal product in the supermarket that is not specifically labeled as 100% grass-fed or pasture-raised. Grain-fed beef, lamb, chicken, and pork are all prone to contamination. Mycotoxins also make it into cow’s milk, so conventional milk and milk-based products like cheese are also at risk of mycotoxin exposure.
Quick side note: Mycotoxins make it into human breast milk, so if you’re reading this because you’re pregnant and want to avoid stretch marks, it’s doubly important that you eliminate mold toxins from your diet and environment. You don’t want your newborn exposed to carcinogens and hormone disruptors.
Grass-fed animal products are generally safe from contamination because pasture grasses are very low in fungi and mycotoxins. There are other benefits to eating grass-fed animals as well. Cows evolved to eat grass. Grain-fed and/or factory-farmed cows aren’t eating the right food, and many of them develop health problems, like broken legs from being so overweight. Often, animals get infections from poor living conditions, and meat producers pump them full of antibiotics. But antibiotics don’t destroy mold. Grain-fed meat, milk, butter, and other animal products are subject to widespread mycotoxin contamination.
HOW TO KNOW YOU’VE BEEN EXPOSED TO MYCOTOXINS
If you feel any of the following symptoms soon after eating/drinking something or walking into a room, there’s a good chance the food, drink, or air was contaminated with mycotoxins:
Nausea or stomach pain
Cold hands or feet
A runny or stuffy nose
Flaking skin or itching scalp
Feeling thirsty or dehydrated
A buzzing sensation in your head, feeling light headed
Sensitivity to light or louder noises
Difficulty thinking or focusing
Gas or diarrhea
PROTECT YOURSELF: INCREASE YOUR ANTIOXIDANT INTAKE
A number of antioxidants protect your body from mycotoxins. These include:
Coenzyme Q10 – renews used vitamin C and E ● Glutathione – the body’s master antioxidant ● MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) – a powerful detoxifier available in powder form as a supplement. It’s in many cruciferous vegetables, especially cauliflower and broccoli. ● Selenium – a key mineral for the body; Brazil nuts contain lots of selenium, although they can sometimes be moldy. A selenium supplement is a good choice. ● Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) ● Vitamin C – raw green vegetables contain lots of vitamin C. ● Vitamin E (tocopherols) – almonds, egg yolks, green leafy vegetables, olive oil, and avocado are all rich in Vitamin E
These antioxidants and minerals help your body eliminate mycotoxins and prevent stretch marks. Vitamin E alone protects against five different types of mycotoxins and mycoestrogens.
CHECKLIST FOR DEALING WITH MYCOTOXINS
Here’s an outline of what we recommend:
Avoid or limit intake of foods that are often contaminated with mycotoxins: overripe bananas, barley, beer, chocolate, most coffee , corn, cottonseed, dried foods, fruit juices, legumes, liquor, malt, milk, cheese, oats, peanuts, rye, sorghum, soy, spices, wheat, and wine.
Eat only 100% grass-fed meat and wild-caught fish
If you suspect your house is contaminated with mold, it’s good to get an inspection from a professional mold specialist and have an ERMI test done (Environmental Relative Mold Index)
Take antioxidant vitamins and minerals: coenzyme Q10, glutathione, MSM, selenium, vitamin D3, vitamin C, and vitamin E.
Take activated charcoal and bentonite clay to help the body get rid of mycotoxins.
If it’s too much to incorporate everything right away, start slowly. Eliminate wheat, corn, and soy from your diet and start taking vitamins C and D3, then build up from there until you’re following all the recommendations. You can also work with your holistic physician or anti-aging doctor to find a combination of supplements that best benefits you.
STRETCH MARKS CAUSE #3: UNDERNOURISHED SKIN
The third common cause of stretch marks is undernourished skin. Even if your hormones are in good shape and you’re avoiding toxins, your fibroblasts won’t be able to build your skin up if they don’t have anything to work with. This section focuses on nourishing your body by giving your fibroblasts the right building blocks for good skin, along with the tools to help them build faster and better.
FOODS THAT MAKE HEALTHY SKIN
Collagen is the most abundant fibrous protein in the human body, and most of us don’t get nearly enough of it from our diet.
Without enough collagen, your connective tissues become dehydrated, collagen makes you more resilient.
Collagen is made up of three amino acids: glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline. These amino acids are hard to come by in your diet. That’s why we recommend taking a collagen supplement.
Cold-processed, hydrolyzed collagen is best. It’s broken down into small peptides and amino acids that you absorb easily. It’s also rich in hyaluronic acid (HLA), which helps hydrate your skin and joints. Always go for cold-processed collagen supplements; heat breaks down HLA.
One last note about collagen – even though it’s an invaluable supplement, it isn’t a complete protein. Be sure you’re getting plenty of protein from grass-fed meat, wild-caught fish, nuts, and other excellent sources.
Quality fats make for quality skin. You’ll find good fats in coconut, olive oil, avocado, organic soy lecithin, wild-caught salmon, grass-fed meat, and butter from grass-fed cows. Avoid eating hydrogenated fats – they make for inflexible skin and easy stretch mark formation.
Doctors and governments have demonized fat for the last 40 years, but they’re mistaken, Good fats do not make you fat! Toxins, sugar, and inflammatory, low-quality oils make you fat. In fact, it’s likely that you’ll lose excess weight if you start eating a high-fat, low-carb diet. Don’t fear the fat!
Coconut and MCTs
Coconut contains a special class of saturated fats called medium-chain triglycerides (MCT). MCTs are powerful virucides, antibiotics, fungicides, and parasiticides.
The MCTs in coconut are excellent raw materials for building cell walls in skin that detox properly. MCTs are also a first-rate source of energy for your brain. They quickly convert to ketones, a powerful fuel source that reaches your neurons much more quickly than glucose does.
There are a few things to remember when you’re buying coconut products. Avoid processed commercial coconut products because they usually contain lots of sugar. That includes coconut water.
If you haven’t eaten much coconut oil or MCT oil before, your body may take time to get used to it. Taking too much too quickly can cause digestive distress (i.e. “disaster pants”). Start slowly. Begin with just 1 teaspoon per day. Then, over the course of the next two weeks or so, gradually increase to as many as 4-6 tablespoons per day, spread across all your meals.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Olive oil is a great source of monounsaturated fats and polyphenols. The monounsaturated fats support flexible cell walls in your skin, and the polyphenols are powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents that reduce the risk of heart disease. Drizzle it over already cooked food or use it in salad dressings and unheated sauces.
Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fats, vitamin K, vitamin E, potassium, and folate. Their tough skin keeps pesticides out of the fruit itself, so you don’t even have to buy organic avocados.
Organic Soy Lecithin or Sunflower Lecithin
Soy lecithin is a product extracted from soybean oil. there isn’t much “soy” left in soy lecithin. Nearly all of the harmful estrogens have been removed, so soy lecithin won’t promote estrogen dominance the way other soy products do. It will, however, promote pliable skin cell walls.
Sunflower lecithin is another option. From a health perspective it’s slightly better than soy lecithin is, because sunflower lecithin contains zero estrogenic compounds. However, sunflower lecithin is very bitter and it can be difficult to find. Look for it in the supplement section at health food stores.
Butter from grass-fed cows is full of good saturated fat and cholesterol, as well as conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) that supports high energy levels and healthy skin. Grass-fed butter It’s also high in beta-carotene and in vitamins A and E. To top it off, it’s low in mycotoxins because pasture grasses aren’t prone to mold contamination like grain feed is.
It’s imperative not to confuse organic butter with grass-fed butter. Even if butter is organic, if the cows ate grain, then the butter won’t have nearly as many of the healthy fats and nutrients that make for healthy skin. I personally would choose non-organic grass-fed butter over organic grain-fed butter anytime. The gold standard is organic grass-fed butter
Avoiding Hydrogenated Fats
Hydrogenated oils are synthetic fats that contain a large number of artificial trans fatty acids. Your body mistakes the synthetic fats for natural fats and uses them to build cell walls. The cell walls made with hydrogenated fats are less flexible than they would be if your body used natural fats. Cell walls made of trans fats are no longer sufficiently pliable and porous for the cell to function properly. Any time you eat synthetic trans fats, your body turns them into a batch of new and poorly formed cells.
Many processed foods (candies, cookies, salad dressings, crackers, and snack products, for example) contain hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats. Read your product labels carefully.
Younger people naturally absorb lots silica from food and the environment. Your body’s ability to use silica declines with age, which is one of the factors responsible for skin wrinkles. Without enough silica, the body is unable to maintain skin elasticity. Supplementing with bio-available silica or eating foods that contain silica helps counteract the aging process and stretch marks.
Silica is common in food, so a silica supplement isn’t usually necessary, unless your skin is going through a lot of stress. Leafy green vegetables are rich in silica. Many silica supplements come in tablet form, but the body isn’t usually able to use them very well. A better option is to take a tablespoon of food-grade diatomaceous earth every day for its silica content. Or you can just eat tons of green veggies.
THE TOOLS FIBROBLASTS NEED TO MAKE HEALTHY SKIN
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is a potent antioxidant that fibroblasts use to make collagen. A landmark 1981 study observed how collagen production happened with added vitamin C and without it. In the sample with added vitamin C, fibroblasts produced collagen eight times faster than the sample with no added vitamin C.
Vitamin C is widely available in many supplement varieties as capsules, tablets, and powders. You may find it as L-ascorbic acid, ascorbic acid, or ascorbate. These forms are watersoluble. There’s a fat-soluble form of vitamin C called ascorbyl palmitate. Taking some ascorbyl palmitate is fine, but I recommend also getting water soluble forms of vitamin C.
Reliable food sources for vitamin C are broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, citrus fruit, green vegetables, parsley, pears, strawberries, and tomatoes.
Your body doesn’t store or make its own vitamin C, so it’s important to take a good vitamin C supplement or eat foods rich in it every day. It’s best to take your vitamin C with a meal.
Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is an unusual antioxidant. It’s both water- and fat-soluble, so it can enhance a wide range of other antioxidants like vitamins C and E. ALA also readily penetrates your skin cells, and in particular your fibroblasts, which convert it to dihydrolipoic acid (DHLA), an even more powerful antioxidant. ALA and DHLA are both very good at protecting your skin cells from harm and decreasing skin inflammation.
An ALA supplement can shield your skin from damaging effects of light and other stressors, keeping your fibroblasts safe while they manufacture elastin and collagen. Food sources for alpha-lipoic acid include broccoli, collard greens, spinach, grass-fed beef, and grass-fed organ meat like liver.
When you buy alpha-lipoic acid as a supplement, be sure you are NOT buying the omega-3 fatty acid alpha linolenic acid, which is also abbreviated “ALA” (and is largely useless for humans).
Taking a systemic enzyme supplement encourages the body to break down scar tissue. “Systemic” simply means that your whole body uses the enzymes.
Systemic enzymes break down fibrin, an inflexible protein that forms scar tissue. Fibrin is valuable if you’re injured because it stops bleeding and binds wounds quickly (scabs are made of fibrin, for example). Once fibrin forms, your body begins reconstructing healthy tissue from collagen,
Systemic enzyme production declines in most people starting at 25-30 years old. For many people (especially those over 35), fibrin starts to build up throughout the body, leading to stiff joints. Fibrin buildup in overextended skin is one reason women who have a child after age 35 are much more likely to develop stretch marks, especially if it’s their first baby.
Most people who take systemic enzymes also notice reduced inflammation and increased flexibility. As you might imagine, systemic enzyme supplements are good for more serious injuries, as well as for stretch marks.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU ALREADY HAVE STRETCH MARKS
Fixing old stretch marks is a challenge. You have to cause new collagen growth in the right spots (wherever your stretch marks are) and get rid of scar tissue. There are a few different ways to lessen or get rid of existing stretch marks.
Aestheticians have a variety of lasers that will take the angry red color out of stretch marks. Laser bleaching won’t give your skin the firmness it used to have, but the stretch marks will become less visible. Stretch marks will also fade over time, especially after you get hormones and inflammation under control.
If you want to fill stretch marks in, there’s a technique called microneedling, where a trained aesthetician will apply topical anesthetic and run a needle through your stretch marks (almost like you’re getting a tattoo) to stimulate new collagen synthesis. To encourage collagen formation, some aestheticians will put a topical cream on your stretch marks while microneedling. The cream usually contains compounds we’ve talked about, like hyaluronic acid or vitamin C.
I’ve heard about mixed results from microneedling. It worked well for some people and it didn’t do much of anything for others.
Red LED Light Therapy
You can spend time under red LED light to stimulate collagen growth throughout the body. You want to concentrate the light on areas where you have stretch marks
In the last few years, aestheticians have begun using powerful lasers to rapidly stimulate collagen synthesis. Many good plastic surgeons and anti-aging doctors offer laser therapy. It’s expensive and it’s a relatively new technology, so it’s not without risk, but patients report good results.
Cryotherapy chambers use liquid nitrogen to cool the air around you to about -250 degrees Fahrenheit. The sudden cold pushes your cellular repair systems into higher gear. I use cryotherapy to regenerate the tissue beneath my stretch marks, and more and more professional athletes use cryo chambers to speed up recovery from joint damage and general wear and tear. You can find cryotherapy businesses in most major cities.
Fotona (Erbium) Laser Therapy
Several of my friends have used Fotona lasers to get rid of stretch marks with good results. Fotona lasers do microscopic damage to overstretched skin, triggering repair mechanisms in surrounding healthy skin. The repair mechanisms often end up repairing the stretched skin as well, causing stretch marks to fade or even disappear. I haven’t tried Fotona therapy personally, but I plan to in the future.
The final thing you can do if nothing else works is to have actual plastic surgery – a surgeon will go in and stitch together broken proteins in your deeper skin layers. Plastic surgery will get rid of stretch marks, but it comes with risks of anesthesia and it will leave you with incisions and scar tissue. we don’t recommend plastic surgery.
YOUR NO-STRETCH MARKS CHECKLIST
Here’s a quick checklist of everything we recommend:
Make sure your hormonal levels are balanced and that you have enough progesterone
Talk to a holistic or anti-aging physician about getting your hormonal levels checked.
Get plenty of quality fat and cholesterol from grass-fed meat and butter, wild-caught fish, avocado, coconut, and raw nuts
If necessary, talk to your physician about supplementing with bioidentical (never synthetic) progesterone.
2. Avoid extra estrogen
sidestep foods high in estrogen: grains, seeds, legumes, beer, wine, flax and flax oil, and most of all, avoid soy.
Stay Away from synthetic estrogens in your environment: petrochemicals, BPA in plastics and Styrofoam, perfumes and synthetic fragrances in cosmetics and cleaning products.
Buy natural and fragrance-free cosmetics and household cleaning products.
Switch away from oral contraceptives. They disrupt your natural hormones and can cause mineral imbalance.
3. Optimize testosterone levels (yes, for women too!)
Talk to your holistic or anti-aging physician about getting testosterone levels tested.
If necessary, supplement with bio-identical (never synthetic) testosterone.
4- Keep mycotoxins out of your body
Avoid foods that are easily contaminated with mycotoxins: bananas, barley, beer, chocolate, coffee, corn, cotton seed, dried foods, fruit juices, legumes, liquor, malt, milk and cheese, oats, peanuts, rye, sorghum, soy, wheat, and wine.
Eat only grass-fed meat and wild-caught fish to enhance your health and prevent stretch marks.
If you suspect your house is contaminated with mold, get an inspection.
Take detoxifying vitamins and minerals: coenzyme Q10, glutathione, MSM, selenium, vitamin D3, and vitamin E.
Take activated charcoal and bentonite clay to help the body get rid of mycotoxins, pesticides, and other environmental toxins.
5-Eat foods and take supplements that help fibroblasts build skin
Avoid hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils completely
Take plenty of vitamin C along with alpha-lipoic acid and systemic enzymes
6-Reduce stress as much as you can
Exercise, yoga, meditation, prayer, being outdoors, enough sleep, and healthy sex all reduce stress levels.
Try help from other people or consult with a holistic physician or counselor to reduce stress.
Stretch marks are a burden or a fear for many people, but they don’t have to be. With proper nutrition and an informed lifestyle you can keep stretch marks at bay and reap the benefits of healthy skin.