Preparing for last week’s Lunch and Learn Skin Care Lecture I combed the research for supportive foods to help promote anti-aging skin. Once again, the foundational principles of consuming anti-inflammatory fats, colorful, antioxidant-dense carbohydrates and lean, quality protein were well-documented.
These were the lecture highlights:
Our skin outwardly illustrates many aspects of our inner health. The not so obvious contributors to aging skin are obesity, toxins, elevated blood sugar, psychological stress and low levels of antioxidants. All of these are modifiable risk factors, meaning we can override them with diet and lifestyle changes.
When dietary changes start to seem overwhelming and confusing, I remind my patients that it all boils down to 3 simple building blocks: Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats. Each of these categories directly impacts our skin.
Carbs: It is proven that refined sugars and starches, as well as the less obvious culprits such as sweetened yogurts, cereals, bananas and fruit juice, all contribute to the formation of aptly termed AGE’s. These are formed when sugar attaches to our skin’s protein and causes damage. This damage leads to inflammation, acne, rosacea and loss of elasticity. Yikes!
Fatty Acids: Fats are an important component of skin. The right amount and type of fats is critical. The Omega 6’s are Inflammatory Fats found in conventionally corn fed animal fats, chicken skin, as well hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils from processed foods. The Omega 3’s are Anti-Inflammatory Fats: Fish, flax, green leafy’s, nuts, chia seeds, avocados.
Research examined nearly 3000 people aged 45-60 and found that those who consumed the lowest levels of flax and fish oils had the most severe effects of sun damage. Further research proved that omega 3’s actually can protect against acute and chronic sun exposures. Most of us are now careful about using sun-blocking ingredients, but as baby boomers many of us could be found on the beach using baby oil and sun reflectors, so it’s important to do all we can to mitigate the long-term effects of these exposures.
GLA, an omega 6 oil found in borage, black currant and evening primrose oils has been found to help retain our skin’s moisture levels. Borage and flax oils even improved roughness and scaling.
Proteins: These help to stabilize blood sugar and support the structural integrity of our skin. Smoothies are a great way to incorporate all three food categories. Blend together a good quality protein powder combined with unsweetened almond or coconut milk, with added flax and/or chia (omega 3’s), berries (antioxidants), and kale or spinach (fiber/phytochemicals). This is a recipe for glowing skin!
Studies have proven that green tea actually has anti-wrinkle properties both orally and applied topically. A greens smoothie, using green tea as the base, green leafies, berries, flax, lemon or lime, avocado and some pure cacao is loaded with skin supporting antioxidants and anti-inflammatory fats. Adding a fruit/veggie powder to either of these smoothies enhances their antioxidant power.
Lastly, the health of our gut directly influences our skin. The beneficial bacteria, lactobacillus and bifidibacteria, are well documented for promoting healthy immune function and reducing skin inflammation. They also support detoxification and enhance digestion of nutrients important for skin and overall health. These are proven anti-aging remedies that have the added bonus of being delicious with multiple health-promoting properties.