Only on SkinInc.com: Commentary from Pat Lam, nutrition expert and president of Skin Care Consultants, follows this news item explaining how to help your clients incorporate more fruits and vegetables into their diets for improved skin health.
New research suggests eating vegetables gives you a healthy tan. The study, led by Ian Stephen, PhD, at The University of Nottingham, showed that eating a healthy diet rich in fruit and vegetables gives you a more healthy golden glow than the sun.
The research, which showed that instead of heading for the sun the best way to look good is to munch on carrots and tomatoes, has been published in the journal Evolution and Human Behaviour.
Stephen, from the School of Psychology, University of Nottingham, Malaysia Campus, led the research as part of his doctorate at the University of St. Andrews and Bristol University. He said, "Most people think the best way to improve skin color is to get a suntan, but our research shows that eating lots of fruit and vegetables is actually more effective."
Stephen and his team in the Perception Lab found that people who eat more portions of fruits and vegetables per day have a more golden skin color, thanks to substances called carotenoids. Carotenoids are antioxidants that help soak up damaging compounds produced by the stresses and strains of everyday living, especially when the body is combating disease. Responsible for the red coloring in fruit and vegetables such as carrots and tomatoes, carotenoids are important for our immune and reproductive systems.
Stephen said: "We found that, given the choice between skin color caused by suntan and skin color caused by carotenoids, people preferred the carotenoid skin color, so if you want a healthier and more attractive skin color, you are better off eating a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables than lying in the sun."
Stephen suggests that the study is important because evolution would favor individuals who choose to form alliances or mate with healthier individuals over unhealthy individuals.
David Perrett, PhD, who heads the Perception Lab, said, "This is something we share with many other species. For example, the bright yellow beaks and feathers of many birds can be thought of as adverts showing how healthy a male bird is. What's more, females of these species prefer to mate with brighter, more colored males. But this is the first study in which this has been demonstrated in humans."
Although this study describes work in Caucasian faces, the paper also describes a study that suggests the effect may exist cross-culturally, since similar preferences for skin yellowness were found in an African population.
The work was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Unilever Research, and published with support from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the British Academy and Wolfson Foundation.
University of Nottingham. "Eating vegetables gives skin a more healthy glow than the sun, study shows." ScienceDaily 12 January 2011.
Pat Lam tells SkinInc.com how to advise clients on increasing their fruit and veggie consumption, based on their own personal skin care needs.
Although most people are aware that fruits and vegetables are necessary in their daily diet, including them is easier said than done. People’s lives are so busy that they don’t have the time to remember what they should eat throughout the day. Clients are more likely to follow advice to improve their nutrient intake if spa professionals shared nutritional advice in a way that is customized to their specific skin or body type.
Education is the best way for people to understand how and why specific nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, will help clients achieve that healthy, glowing skin and slimmer body that they are seeking. If certain conditions are present, specific nutrients will reduce them.
For example: Congested inflammatory conditions are present in oily, acne- or rosacea-prone skin, or in those who are obese. Dietary intake should include anti-inflammatory nutrients to detoxify and decongest in order to reduce inflammation. The skin care professional should recommend anti-inflammatory foods, such as omega-3-rich foods and fiber, which are necessary in the daily diet. In addition, nutrient-dense antioxidant foods will help reduce the formation of free radicals that occur in high doses during inflammationary conditions. Omega-3 fatty acids are abundantly found in fish, particularly salmon, mackerel and sardines. However, many people have different reasons for not liking fish, so a good quality omega-3 supplement can be substituted. Omega-3 supplemented foods, such as eggs, are now available. To relieve congestion, fiber-rich foods are vital to detoxify the body systems regularly and 15–24 grams are required daily. Advise clients to seek out probiotics in foods and include them in their daily diet to reduce constipation and achieve a healthy digestive system, which will lead to a healthy skin and body. When shopping, check food labels for high fiber content, three grams or more per serving. However, be aware that many cereals tout their high fiber values but can contain a lot of sugar, as well.
Antioxidant-rich foods are also beneficial to help reduce the high presence of free radicals found in inflammatory conditions and damaged tissues. Advise clients to consider adding red or purple fruits, such as berries, or any brightly colored fruits or vegetables to their breakfast cereals or salads, and they will easily reach their 5–10 daily servings of fruits and vegetables without thinking or planning. Not only do they add flavor to meals, but they also add an inviting splash of color! Include favorites such as chopped strawberries, grapes, blueberries or even mangoes, oranges or papaya. Sprinkling a few teaspoons of walnuts on cereals and salads also add fiber, protein and omega-3 easily to the diet. Minimize or avoid stimulating foods, such as fried, spicy foods and coffee, and choose green or black teas that are high in antioxidants. Other inflammatory nutrients include sugar, which should be also be minimized. Choose foods containing less than 10 grams of sugar per serving and be aware of added sugar and salt found in processed foods. It is wise to avoid or minimize foods from animal sources since they are inflammatory and exacerbate skin conditions. Drinking at least eight glasses water daily will help to digest and absorb nutrients, and flush toxins from the body.
For dry, loose, sagging skin, certain nutrients are essential for collagen synthesis. This includes calcium, iron and vitamin C combined with lean protein found in meat or soy, and legumes. If they don’t like milk, they can take supplements. Most clients are unaware that kiwi contains much higher amounts of vitamin C than oranges, and iron is not only found in meat, but also in soy and legumes for vegetarians.
- Advise clients to drink a glass of pure water before and after meals to help detoxify or flush the waste from your body.
- Teach your clients how to read food labels.
- Offer fruit juice or herbal tea, such as green or black tea, in your spa's relaxation area.
- Tell clients to make a ritual habit of eating a fruit with each meal throughout day so they don’t have to remember to do so. Fresh fruits are better and more nutrient-rich than juice because they have a higher fiber content and only contain natural sugar instead of added sugar. However, if time is short, fruit juice is fine. Many spas carry supplements such as omega-3 tablets for their clients. Marketing dietary supplements will not only generate higher income for spas, but will help boost your clients' confidence in you because they will feel that they are being treated, not only from the outside but also from the inside, leading to increased respect for you as a skin care professional professional.