No one wants to look old. Yet, our faces and necks inevitably reveal our years. Sun and the aging process damage our skin. Gravity makes our features sag. Much of my time as a plastic surgeon is dedicated to restoring a younger look to my patients with surgical and nonsurgical solutions. I was delighted to learn that preliminary studies have revealed promising ways to slow down the signs of aging and even reduce wrinkles.
Editors’s Note: Dr. Brian Machida is a double board certified facial plastic surgeon who practices in Ontario, Inland Empire, California. He has an exceptional level of experience, having performed more than 4,000 facial rejuvenation procedures in his career.
An easy way to improve skin and overall health
Fortunately, foods that fight aging skin can be found at any supermarket. Many may be surprised to learn that their kitchen cupboards and refrigerators already contain items that can improve their looks if eaten properly.
It’s important to recognize that sun damage is a major cause of aging skin and wrinkles. Ultraviolet light from the sun penetrates all layers of skin. This includes deeper layers that fortify the skin and give it resilience. Years of sun exposure can cause wrinkling, blotchy pigmentation and roughness. Sun damaged skin also becomes less flexible and more easily injured. Sun damage is the major cause of skin cancer.
Research has found that the foods we eat can help to protect our skin from sun damage and even enhance its appearance, increasing smoothness and elasticity (to combat sagging) while improving wrinkles. Food compounds that have proven themselves in the fight against aging skin include:
• Vitamin C
• Vitamin E
• Carotenoids (which give red, orange and yellow fruits and vegetables their color)
• Flavanols found in cocoa and green tea
An easy and tasty way to start
Studies published in scientific journals reveal that consuming 329 mg of flavanols from cocoa and green tea each day for 12 weeks improved people’s skin when compared to a control group. These compounds reduced scaling, wrinkles and roughness while improving their skin’s smoothness, thickness, density, moisture levels and blood supply. Very importantly, it made their skin more resistant to sun damage, reducing the tendency to sunburn by 25% in one study.
Getting 329mg of flavanols into your daily diet is not difficult. According to Debra Miller, Director of Nutrition at The Hershey Company’s Center for Health and Nutrition, 2 teaspoons of Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa adds 420 mg with only 40 calories. It’s important to choose a natural cocoa powder that is not Dutch or alkali processed, since this removes much of the bitter but healthy flavanol content. Using a natural low calorie sweetener like stevia or monk fruit extract can turn this into a delicious cup of hot cocoa or mocha (combined with your favorite coffee) that adds few calories and confers benefits to your appearance and overall health.
In fact, one study revealed that increasing flavanols to 750 mg. per day lowered blood pressure and improved the health of blood vessels in patients with heart disease. Including some combination of fruits (apples, grapes, and pears), tea (particularly green tea), a glass of red wine and some cocoa in your daily diet could make this relatively easy.
Adding Vitamin C, Vitamin E and Carotenoids
Other nutrients proven to reduce sun damage (and thereby slow the signs of aging) include Vitamins C and E as well as carotenoids. It is safer to eat natural forms of these nutrients in food than to take in artificial versions in pills. Here are some good sources of these beneficial compounds:
Vitamin C Vitamin E Carotenoids
Chili Peppers Sunflower Seeds Carrots (cooked)
Red and Green Bell Peppers Almonds Carrot Juice
Kale Spinach (cooked) Tomatoes
Broccoli Safflower Oil Broccoli
Papaya Beet Greens Kale
Strawberries Pumpkin (canned) Pumpkin (canned)
Cauliflower Red Peppers (raw) Mixed Vegetables
Many other foods contain these important nutrients as well. As you can see from this list, a number of foods, like red peppers, kale, broccoli and pumpkin contain more than one of these key substances. Further research will help identify the exact compounds that have the greatest anti-aging effect.
Of course, these foods help prevent excessive skin aging and can optimize the look of your face and neck. They can help you keep your natural good looks and forestall extensive rejuvenation procedures. There is no “facelift in a cup” or “facelift food.” But eating right, along with using sunscreen and the right skincare, can aid your efforts to look your best.
If wrinkles or sagging skin make you feel self-conscious, facial plastic surgeons have many effective solutions to help. Eating the right foods can help you help yourself look younger and more attractive. Combined with a healthy lifestyle, they can also help you feel younger and more energetic as well.