Inevitably at the beginning of a new year, I have patients come to me asking what they can do to look younger. Their skin is starting to lose elasticity, brightness and they’re afraid that they’re starting to show their age. Well, I don’t refer them to the nearest plastic surgeon. Instead, I surprise them by telling them 70% of their aging can be reversed simply by the choice of foods that they eat. Yes, it can really be that simple. Read on and find out how 2014 can be the year you, too, start looking younger rather than older.
Eat The Right Foods to Look Younger in 2014
Every year, millions of Americans have some type of anti-aging cosmetic surgery or dermatological procedure. This includes everything from Botox injections, dermabrasion, radio frequency, electro-stim, skin rollers, to surgical facelifts. And even though these treatments are partially successful in turning back the creeping signs of age on your face/body, you could create a younger, healthier look just by paying more attention to what you’re eating every day. Optimizing your nutritional intake will do the following:
1. Strengthen your immune system and better repair the largest organ of your body, your skin.
2. Diminish wrinkles.
3. Even out skin color.
4. Improve skin elasticity and tone.
Here are the foods you need to start adding to your diet:
1. Dark fruits and vegetables: The darker, more vibrant the colors of vegetables, the more antioxidants and essential skin-saving vitamins and minerals they have. Blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, purple grapes, green and dark red apples, kale, broccoli, eggplant, spinach, Brussels sprouts, pumpkin, sweet potatoes. This array contains high amounts of antioxidants A, C, E, lutein, beta carotene, and quercetin as well as minerals potassium, magnesium and chromium. Antioxidants fight off the damage that free radicals can do to your skin resulting in sagging, brown age spots, wrinkles. They also help stimulate collagen and elastin production which keep the under-structures of your skin tightly knit to prevent sagging and wrinkling.
2. Lean, rich proteins. Poultry (chicken, turkey) contain hyaluronic acids that help stimulate collagen production. Tuna and salmon contain both beneficial Omega-3 fatty acids that dial down the inflammation in your skin, as well as high levels of protein that build collagen.
3. The best fats. Throw out your margarine and “franken spreads”. Keep your organic butter as well as extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, and flaxseed oil. These contain beneficial Omega-3 fats as well as medium chain triglycerides that keep your internal system functioning optimally and increase the lipid levels, buoyancy and radiance in your skin. Get about 3,000 mg per day of Omega-3s. Your diet should contain about 30% of these “good fats”.
4. Nuts and seeds. Brazil nuts, cashews, almonds, walnuts, pecans, macadamias, pistachios, all contain good levels of antioxidants Vitamin E and the mineral selenium that protect your skin from free radical damage.
5. The best drinks. Green and white tea both contain the powerhouse antioxidant EGCC which prevents photo-damage oxidation of your skin (resulting in ugly brown spots), scarring, and wrinkling. Red wine contains high levels of an anti-aging compound resveratrol – but limit to 2 glasses per day, or no-sugar added grape juice. Cocoa contains flavonoids that help repair skin. It also helps lower your blood pressure by relaxing blood vessels. This helps prevent those tiny capillaries on your cheeks and nose. Go for the highest percentage of cocoa, at least 70%, and low/no sugar added. You can do your skin, and your sleep, a big favor by drinking a mug of cocoa made from 100% pure cocoa powder, the kind you use for baking. Put 3 tablespoons in a mug, add hot water, a little cream if you want, and sweeten with Stevia. Cocoa also contains magnesium and theobromine which help you relax and fall asleep faster and sleep better – which also helps you look (and feel) younger. Water! Dehydration will make your skin look dull and slack. Aim for half your weight in water ounces per day.
6. The best supplements. Take a good multivitamin every day to boost the nutrients you’re getting from your food. In addition, herbal supplements like astragalus, resveratrol, Co-Q10 are proven anti-aging boosters; DMAE, found in wild fish and supplements, increases skin tone and elasticity. It can also be applied topically via a cream; DHEA, converts to both estrogen and testosterone in women and men to address hormonally aging skin. DHEA helps thicken skin to more youthful levels. Get your DHEA levels checked as over age-50 levels are most always depleted. Supplementing with 12-25 mg a day, in tandem with diet and exercise, can knock 10-15 years off your appearance. Vitamin D3 boosts the immune system and the health and youthfulness of your skin as well. It helps produce keratinocytes which make up about 95% of the cells of the outer layer of your skin. Constant renewal of these cells locks in moisture that keeps your skin soft and smooth appearing.
The Worst Foods for Your Skin/Aging:
1. Too much red meat – especially grain feed. Stick to grass fed.
2. Too much alcohol – limit to 1-2 glasses wine, beer per day.
3. Too much Omega-6 fats – vegetable oil common in commercial fast foods, causes inflammation.
You don’t have to go under the knife, or invest in expensive dermatologic procedures, to maintain a more youthful appearance. Optimize your diet, be sure to keep your skin clean, use a good exfoliant like an apricot or sugar scrub, use a good, protective moisturizer on your skin, drink enough water, get enough fresh air, sunlight, and exercise, and be sure to sleep 6-8 hours a night. Don’t forget, your face is made up of muscles too and can benefit from exercise like the rest of your body. Why not start 2014 off with some “facial yoga” moves to help recreate a more youthful facial tone as well.