Wednesday, November 2, 2011

How to have beautiful skin. Three things I just learned.

347156579_xd0zZFso_c_large francescaPhoto: Francesca

I recently stumbled on an interview with Dr. Jessica Wu, the author of Feed Your Face, and I learned a few new skin-care facts that I wanted to share with my blog readers.

But first, test your own skin-care knowledge with the following question.

For radiant looking skin, which of the following breakfast foods should you choose?

a) Cornflakes with non-fat milk and a banana OR,

b) Whole wheat toast with peanut butter and a glass of tomato juice

Alright, I admit it. I answered this question incorrectly. But that’s because in the split-second it took me to size up the foods, I jumbled my facts. In my rushed rationale, I equated tomato juice with acidic break-outs, peanut butter with fat on my waistline, non-fat milk with calcium and strong bones, and bananas with potassium. Obviously, my judgment was not singularly focused on skin-care. In fact, when I realized that the correct answer was B, I was interested to hear more from a recent interview with Dr. Jessica Wu, dermatologist and author of Feed you Face.

According to Dr. Wu the old adage, “you are what you eat,” is the number one message to remember if you want a vibrant, glowing complexion. That’s because our skin is a living, breathing organ that is constantly absorbing nutrients from our bloodstream; which means that at any given moment, our skin is a reflection of what we just ate. And while I had a general understanding of this basic nutritional connection, I was surprised to learn  that there are specific foods that increase our facial wrinkles and dryness; and other foods that can make our skin look healthy and vibrant.

But back to the breakfast question. If you answered the question like I did, you should know that cornflakes and bananas both have high fructose levels (translation: lots of sugar) and sugar causes wrinkles. Well, that’s the blunt version. But since I have a naughty old sweet tooth, my ears immediately perked up as I listened to Dr. Wu offer this rudimentary explanation.

Why do we get wrinkles?

As we age, our skin naturally gets thinner and we lose collagen. It’s inevitable. As Wu describes it, think of collagen like the beams in a house, it gives our skin structure and firmness. More specifically, Collagen and Elastin give our skin its bounce-back ability. For example, if you grab your skin and pull, it will snap back. Only as we age, those elastic fibers begin to break apart, so our skin gradually loses its elastic quality. This explains why our “smile lines” begin to stay in place and those early-morning creases in our face take longer to leave.

When we eat foods that are high in fructose it spikes our blood sugar and increases our insulin levels, which in  turn, breaks down collagen in the skin. Translation: Collagen is a precious commodity in our body. Breaking down our collagen is a bad thing if we desire youthful, firm skin.

Fact One:  Beware of sugar’s effect on collagen.

A diet that is high in sugar will lead to a decrease in collagen and this will cause lines and wrinkles on your face.

Tip: To combat the effects of high-sugar fruits, Dr. Wu suggests eating fruits with a protein. For example, try eating a handful of almonds or tablespoon of peanut butter with your banana or grapes. She also recommends eating a nutritional breakfast each morning to help stabilize your blood sugar throughout the day.

 Great breakfast foods: Eggs with whole wheat toast, oatmeal with nuts on top (instead of instant oatmeal) tomato juice and Greek yogurt and fruit.

 Beware: Packaged cereals high in sugars, and dairy products that contain cow hormones (because these can increase oil production and clog pores).

Fact Two: Tomatoes, walnuts &Almonds, and Green Tea; have these today!

Tomatoes fight sun damage. Yes, silly me, and I thought tomatoes were bad for the skin. According to Dr. Wu, tomatoes contain loads of lycopene that helps fight sun damage!  And lycopene is enhanced by cooking so here’s another reason to be eating your tomato based sauces on your whole grain pasta and pizza. Ordering a drink?  Bloody Marys, both virgin and non-virgin, are still the best cocktail for your face.

Almonds and walnuts fight dry skin. So the next time you’re in a hurry, grab a handful of almonds or walnuts and feed your skin as well as  your body. Dr. Wu is a great fan of almonds because these nuts are not only full of vitamins but also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help combat our dry skin and make it feel smooth and soft.

And the next time you have an acne break-out? Grab a green tea bag, dampen it and place it over your blemish. In addition to helping with break-outs, trading coffee for Green Tea will help you fight sun damage and wrinkles in your skin.

Fact Three:  skipping meals can cause wrinkles!

We all know that crash diets are bad for our health but do we know how they affect our skin? Eating nutritional snacks at regular intervals prevents those wild blood sugar swings which not only cause our cravings, but actually damage our collagen. Remember how crucial our collagen is for our skin’s elasticity? Dr. Wu advises her clients to eat a healthy snack every three hours to stabilize one’s blood sugar levels and avoid the break down of collagen.

other quick tips to remember:

Fight wrinkles by eating green and yellow vegetables once a day. These include veggies like peppers, zucchini, squash and spinach. The cartenoids and other antioxidants in these can protect your skin from the sun and fight the free radicals that break down collagen over time

Are you having breakouts? Avoid dairy, which has been linked to acne. Instead, pour soy almond milk in your cereal or coffee. Or, if this is too drastic, you can avoid cow hormones by buying organic non-fat milk instead. Also, avoid SUGAR while you’re fighting blemishes.

For thick, healthy hair, eat green beans. They’re one of the richest sources of silicon, a naturally occurring element that strengthens hair and nails.

Dry skin? Dr. Wu, tell her movie star clients to use Crisco because it’s a natural soybean oil that’s also a great Body Butter. Spread it all over your elbows and your toughest dry spots. It’s completely natural and it contains no water, which means that it helps seal in the moisture for your skin.

For more information you can find out about her book, Feed Your Face, or check out the following Good Morning America Interview and read the transcripts.

Well …what do you think? Did you learn something? I sure hope so,

thanks for visiting me today!


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Sources: Feed Your Face, Dr. Jessica Wu

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