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Nutrition and the Skin

By: Steven H. Dayan, MD, Tracy L. Drumm and Terri A. Wojak
Posted: May 27, 2011, from the June 2011 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
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Both topically and internally, the focus on nutrition and skin care is becoming a clear pathway to improved skin wellness.

Whether through supplementation or the encouragement of dietary improvement, avoiding this topic with your clients is doing a disservice to their skin care goals. In this column, you will get the point of view of a physician and esthetician, as well as a marketing perspective on the importance of nutrition when it comes to skin wellness, providing truthful, useful information as to why the healthy way is the right way for your clients.

Physician’s point of view: Steven H. Dayan MD, FACS

There is a movement called age management medicine. Physicians who are proponents of this movement argue that the goal is not to make clients live longer, but to make them live healthier. Traditional medicine teaches that eating a balanced meal will provide the body with all the vitamins and minerals necessary for good health. Some concepts, such as supplementation with oral antioxidants and fish oils, have been thought of as radical. However, antioxidant therapy is known to reduce inflammation and even to reverse some of the damage caused by heart disease.

Commonly, the diet of many Americans is full of simple sugars, carbohydrates and bad fats, which include saturated and trans fats. They are considered bad fats because they elevate cholesterol levels, promote inflammation and can lead to heart disease.

Saturated fats are found in whole milk, cheese, red meats, poultry skin and even in some plant foods, such as palm and coconut oils. Trans fats are man-made fats that are most commonly seen in processed foods. Trans fats were created to allow a liquid fat to turn into a solid and last longer without spoiling. These fats are the worst kinds of fats and are often listed on labels as hydrogenated oils. They are used for frying and also to increase the stability and shelf life of snack foods. Most fried foods and processed meats, chips and margarine contain high levels of these trans fats, which are associated with increasing the levels of bad cholesterol in the blood, leading to heart disease and triggering inflammation. Inflammation may be the main culprit in cancer, aging and poor skin, so it is best to advise clients to eliminate foods that contain hydrogenated oils from their diets.