Everyone wants flawless skin. They want that glow they had in their 20s. But, from what I’ve seen, most people are going about it the wrong way. A lot of my patients spend a small fortune on all sorts of so-called “anti-aging” products to slather on their faces. But those serums and creams will only get you so far.
If you really want to smooth out those crow’s feet…firm up those sagging eyelids…and shave a decade (or more) off your appearance, you’ve got to start by focusing on what’s going on inside your body.
The key to that youthful, vibrant glow actually lies in your stomach. Or, more specifically, what you put into it. And what you don’t.
The single worst food
for speeding up the aging process
The wrong food choices cause inflammation right down to the cellular level. Slowly but surely, that inflammation leads directly to wrinkling, sagging, and premature aging.
And the No. 1 offender here is sugar. Or anything that quickly turns into sugar in your body. (Think white foods such as bread, pasta, rice and other refined grain products.)
Sugar bonds with protein in the body and creates something called advanced glycation end products. Otherwise appropriately known as AGEs. These AGEs cause collagen to become inflamed and stiffen. Which leads to wrinkles (among many other things).
Eating sugar also leads to free radical formation. And free radicals feed on collagen and elastin.
Collagen and elastin are the proteins that keep skin firm and supple. In fact, collagen makes up 30 percent of all body protein. But collagen starts to break down in your 20s. Which is why, by the time many people hit 40, those laugh lines and forehead creases have already started to set in.
But it is possible to rebuild your collagen and smooth out those lines and creases. And the secret to doing that is a food you may not be getting enough of…
The wrinkle-fighter you should be eating
with every meal
The human body is made up mostly of water and one other substance…
So it just makes sense that protein is the very foundation of my New Hamptons Health Miracle.
I’ve emphasized before how eating protein helps keep you satisfied longer. And that helps you slim down without feeling hungry all the time. But protein’s benefits for your appearance go way beyond your weight…
Your skin cells get replaced every 24 days. Protein is an integral part of that process. Protein also helps build and strengthen collagen. And that helps keep your complexion firm and radiant. You also need protein for healthy hair and nail growth.
But protein is also the basis for all new body tissue, antibody formation, hormones, enzymes, and blood cells. And don’t forget that your liver, kidneys, heart, lungs, nerves, brain, and sex glands are all comprised of protein, too.
When you look at it that way, protein may be the strongest–and most overlooked–anti-aging remedy there is.
The problem is, many people aren’t getting enough. Here are a few telltale signs:
- Puffy eyes in the morning
- Water retention
- Thin or ridged nails (or nails that won’t grow quickly)
- Thin hair, hair that doesn’t grow quickly, or split-ends
If any of these apply to you, it’s time to take a closer look at your diet. Are you eating protein with every meal? It doesn’t necessarily have to be red meat. Poultry, fish, eggs, and cheese are all good sources. Nuts and legumes contain protein, too. But they don’t contain all the essential amino acids you get from animal protein. So if you’re a vegetarian, you should consider investing in a good quality essential amino acid supplement. And if you need a little extra protein through the day, try a whey protein shake. They’re a delicious and easy way to boost your protein intake. (You can check out my WheyLogic protein shake on my website, www.logicalhealthalternatives.com).
And keep in mind that a low-fat diet will never give your body the amount of protein it needs. Not just for looking young–but for being healthy.
Eat your way to smooth, supple skin
Here are some other specific age-defying foods you may want to consider eating more often…
Wild salmon. One study found that eating a single serving of wild salmon every five days can prevent actinic keratoses. Actinic keratoses are those scaly, brown patches that can form on your face, neck, arms, and hands. And they’re just as dangerous as they are ugly. Left unchecked, they can turn into cancer. So if eating a serving of wild salmon every week can keep that from happening, it’s well worth it.
And yes, it has to be wild. Because the pigment that naturally makes the fish pink–astaxanthin–is a powerful free-radical fighter. But if you buy farmed salmon, chances are, there’s nothing natural (or beneficial) about that pretty pink color you see. Most salmon farms use artificial coloring to make farmed fish appear a more appetizing “salmon” pink. Without it, the flesh would be the color of dirty dishwater. In fact, salmon farmers have a palette wheel similar to the kind you get when you shop for paint colors. They can pick any color they think will sell the most fish. (Frankenfood strikes again.)
Leafy greens. This includes things like spinach, kale, and collard greens. They’re all excellent sources of lutein. Studies show this nutrient helps rehydrate skin and restore its elasticity. Your body can’t make lutein on its own, so it’s especially important to make sure you’re eating plenty of greens.
Sweet Potatoes. These are a much healthier option than white potatoes. They contain beta-carotene, which helps to balance your skin’s pH. If your skin’s pH is too high, you wind up with oily skin and acne. If it’s too low, it leads to a dry, flaky complexion. And wrinkles. But the beta carotene in sweet potatoes helps keep your pH right where it needs to be to keep you looking fresh. Beta carotene also helps combat dryness and promotes cell turnover. All of which results in smoother skin.
One caveat with sweet potatoes: If you’re trying to lose weight, you’re still better off avoiding them for the time being. The good news is, the leafy greens I mentioned above are also good sources of beta- carotene. Stick with those instead until you’ve reached your weight loss goal. Then, feel free to add sweet potatoes into the mix.
Vitamin C-containing foods. Vitamin C is essential to building collagen, the key component to younger-looking skin. And humans are among the few species that don’t produce vitamin C internally. So you should be eating foods that contain it every day. These include red and green peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, berries, cantaloupe, and of course, citrus fruits. These foods also contain bioflavanoids which protect skin from UV rays and help prevent cell death.
Lycopene-containing foods. Lycopene is a potent antioxidant. So it fights the free radicals that feed on your skin’s precious collagen stores. It also shields skin from sun damage from the inside. (Not like sunscreen which works from the outside.)
But PLEASE don’t use ketchup as your go-to lycopene source. The media has spun this one way out of proportion. Yes, tomato products like ketchup and spaghetti sauce contain lycopene. But ounce for ounce, ketchup contains as much sugar as ice cream. And many jars of spaghetti sauce you see in the supermarket aren’t much better. (Besides, the pasta it’s intended to go with is a health disaster waiting to happen.)
The fact is, there are other food sources of lycopene that are much better for you than these processed nightmares. Fresh tomatoes are great. Pink grapefruit, watermelon, and red peppers are all good, too. (Just keep in mind the peppers and tomatoes need to be cooked in order to get the most lycopene from them.)
I always recommend starting with food. It’s the simplest, most natural way to enhance your appearance. And your overall health. But there are also some supplements that may help those efforts along even more.
Seven supplements your skin
will thank you for
Here are my top seven anti-aging nutrients…
- Fish oil helps keep your blood flowing smoothly through your body. And when the blood flows, so does oxygen. And that helps to keep every organ in your body healthy, including your skin. (Don’t forget that the skin is actually your body’s largest organ.) I recommend 3,000 mg of fish oil containing both EPA and DHA (essential fatty acids) per day.
- Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that helps keep free radicals from damaging your skin and making you look older than you are. I would recommend 400 to 800 IU per day for healthy skin, hair, and nails. Just make sure you get one that is higher in gamma tocopherol and has all of the other tocotrienols and tocopherols, too. You can also get vitamin E from food sources like almonds, spinach, peaches, tomatoes, cabbage, asparagus, and avocados.
- Silica is a trace mineral that strengthens the body’s connective tissues–muscles, tendons, hair, ligaments, nails, cartilage, and bone. It’s also vital for healthy skin. I recommend 1,000 mg of silica per day. Foods rich in silica include leeks, green beans, garbanzo beans, strawberries, cucumber, celery, asparagus, and rhubarb.
- Zinc is an important component of healthy skin. Especially if you suffer from acne. In fact, acne itself may be a symptom of zinc deficiency. Zinc helps control the production of oil in the skin. It may also help regulate some of the hormones that can lead to acne. I recommend 30 mg per day. Foods rich in zinc include fresh oysters, pumpkin seeds, ginger, pecans, Brazil nuts, oats, and eggs.
- Selenium is another powerful antioxidant. It’s also responsible for tissue elasticity. And it can protect the skin from UV damage. So it may play an important role in preventing skin cancer. I recommend 200 mcg per day. Dietary sources of selenium include seafood, garlic, and eggs. But Brazil nuts may be the best source. Eating just 3-4 Brazil nuts per day provides enough selenium for most people.
- Vitamin A promotes proper repair and maintenance of the skin. Deficiencies can result in a dry, flaky complexion. Foods high in vitamin A include liver, chili peppers, dandelion, carrots, apricots, collard greens, kale, sweet potatoes, spinach, and cantaloupe.
- Pycnogenol(R) is my all-time favorite supplement. It comes from the bark of the French maritime pine tree. And I’ve talked about its numerous health benefits. But it’s also great for your skin. Multiple studies have shown that it supports collagen and elastin. I usually recommend 100 mg per day.
All of the things I’ve told you about here help support healthy collagen. And that’s the No. 1 factor involved in looking as young as you can. But collagen isn’t just in your skin. It’s also found in the lining of your blood vessels and helps them to expand and contract. So everything you read about here may also help prevent high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease in general.
Eating well and indulging in the best nature has to offer is truly the best way to make your whole body younger. From the inside out.
What about the sun?
I can’t help it. I love the sun. Just the thought of a warm sunny day is enough to make me smile. And I have been known to sport a tan, so I can’t be too hypocritical about sunscreen and sun exposure.
Having said that, exposure to the sun can increase your chances for wrinkles. Which is one of the reasons I never go outside without sunblock. No matter what season. I use SPF 30 in the summer and 25 in the winter. But the risks of using chemical-laden sunscreens are just too great. So make sure you choose a natural, organic sunscreen. Lavera, Aubrey, Earth’s Best, and Soleo are a few of my favorites.