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Eat Right to Look Younger

Posted by Joan Salge Blake  January 13, 2014 12:21 PM

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Maye Muske; Photo by Tom Contrino, with permission
According to Mintel’s consumer research, the anti-aging skincare market has grown to over $2 billion annually, and 76 percent of consumers concerned with aging are interested in products that use natural or organic ingredients.  What can be more natural and organic than the foods that you eat?  

Can your diet play a role in anti-aging?  Just ask Maye Musk, a 65-year old model and registered dietitian.  While Musk admits that genetics, getting adequate sleep, avoiding smoking, and limiting sun exposure, can all play a role in how your body ages, diet is key as “you have to eat well to look and feel young.”   She eats a healthy, high fiber diet to maintain her weight and youthful looks.  

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, a well-balanced diet rich in fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean proteins can lead to healthier skin.   Elisa Zied, RD, author of the new book, Younger Next Week, agrees about the power of a healthy diet.  “For example, fruits and veggies not only keep us hydrated because of their high water content, but they can also help us look younger and better,” writes Zied.  Certain phytochemicals and nutrients in foods may also play a specific anti-aging role in helping your skin look more youthful.  “Research suggests that eating more carotenoid-rich produce is associated with improved skin color and a more healthy and attractive appearance,” according to Zied. 

As we age our skin becomes thinner and drier, losing some of the elasticity that we had in our youth, which paves the way to wrinkles, according to researcher, Richard L. Roberts, Ph.D.  These changes are accelerated by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun as well as tanning beds.  While the skin has a natural antioxidant capacity to protect against damage caused by those UV rays, too much exposure can overwhelm its capabilities leaving the skin vulnerable to damage.  According to an article authored by Roberts and published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, lutein and zeaxanthin are two carotenoids that may help boost the antioxidant capacity of your skin as well as the health of your eyes.   Look to egg yolks, corn, orange peppers, orange juice, and red grapes for excellent sources of both of these antioxidants.

“Drinking tea also has its perks when it comes to looking and feeling younger,” according to Zied.  “Many of the benefits of tea are linked with its high content of polyphenols (specifically flavonoids), powerful plant chemicals that act as antioxidants that also can protect against UV skin damage.”

Vitamin E is another important antioxidant in the skin that helps avoid accelerated aging.  According to an article published in Clinics in Dermatology, adequate stores need to be maintained in the body daily.  Unfortunately, many Americans fall short of their daily needs of this vitamin so adding vitamin E-rich foods sources, such as wheat germ, sunflower seeds, almonds, and corn and olive oil, can help boost your intake.  Since this antioxidant works synergistically with vitamin C in the body, your diet should also have a wide variety of vitamin C-rich foods, such as citrus fruits, kiwi, strawberries, peppers and broccoli.    Research also suggests that vitamin C, in and of itself, may also help reduce the prevalence of wrinkles and dry skin due to aging.  Lastly, vitamin A, which is found in carotenoid-rich dark green veggies, such as spinach and kale, and orange vegetables, such as carrots, sweet potatoes and pumpkin, is also needed for healthy skin.

“Sometimes life will get in the way of making the best food choices, but if we prioritize nurturing ourselves and make time to care for ourselves, we can reclaim the vitality we so deserve,” states Zied.

Be well, Joan

If you have topic you would like me to cover on my blog, please email me at:

                                        Follow Joan on Twitter at:  joansalgeblake

Originally published on the blog Nutrition and You!.
This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Joan Salge Blake, MS, RD, LDN, is a clinical associate professor and registered dietitian at Boston University in the Nutrition Program. Joan is the author of Nutrition &You, 2nd Edition, More »

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