Pycnogenol demonstrates visible anti-aging properties, according to a new study out of Dusseldorf, Germany. This natural plant extract originating from the bark of the maritime pine that grows along the coast of southwest France is sold in health food stores as a pricey anti-oxidant supplement. Over time, collagen and elastin in skin break down and your skin shows visible signs of aging. The women in the study ranged from 55-68 years of age. After 12 weeks of pycnogenol supplementation, both elasticity and skin hydration improved. As a nutritionist, I focus on diet first before I recommend a lot of supplements.
What are the cutting edge skin nutrients and how can we obtain them from our diet?
WATER - Dehydration can age skin and adequate water can keep skin hydrated. Since 2/3 of your body is composed of water, make sure you drink purified drinking water or mineral water throughout the day. I recently dined in a trendy NYC restaurant and observed the two women to my right drinking margaritas for lunch. The women to my left drank water and green juice. Which ones do you think had younger-looking skin? Caffeine and alcohol are diuretics so don’t include these fluids in your daily quota since they dehydrate you. Eight glasses of water a day is the rule; however, actual water needs are based on body weight. A 125 pound woman needs less water than a 200 pound man. For assistance calculating your daily free fluid needs, consult a qualified nutritionist or dietitian.
VITAMIN C – Red, yellow and green, peppers, oranges, grapefruits and citrus fruits are some of the richest sources of vitamin C. Vitamin C contributes to collagen synthesis which is essential to maintaining skin elasticity and preventing wrinkles. C’s anti-oxidant properties can also prevent sun damage. This water soluble vitamin oxidizes easily. Consume the whole fruit instead of juice for both fiber and Vitamin C. I generally don’t recommend juice anyway since it is loaded with sugar.
CAROTENOIDS – A daily dose of pumpkin, carrots, or kale can keep your skin glowing and healtlhy. As an added plus, beta carotene, a potent anti-oxidant, may help prevent sun damage to your skin. Squash, carrots, and apricots are good sources of beta-carotene. Lutein is in green, leafy vegetables and lycopene can be found in tomatoes, watermelon, and pink grapefruit. Carotenoids are converted to Vitamin A in your body. If you overdose on these colorful fruits and veggies, you may find your skin has a healthy orange tone. This is reversible.
For a low cal Skin Smoothie, add 1 cup of your favorite orange or yellow fruit to a 1/2 cup of rice milk or skim milk and throw in couple of ice cubes and some fresh ginger to taste. If you need to make it sweeter, add one packet of stevia, a natural herbal sweetener. I make smoothies in a Vita Mix or a food processor. This is a skin-nourishing, fiber and anti-oxidant rich low cal treat. Remember to make half your plate fruits and veggies at each meal and you’ll be on your way to healthier, younger looking skin.