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You Are What You Eat

By: Howard Murad, MD
Posted: August 26, 2009, from the September 2009 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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Acne. Vitamin A helps normalize the production of excess skin cells that clog the pore within the follicles. Vitamins B-1, B-2, B-3 and B-6 assist with tissue growth and repair, and zinc helps reduce the inflammation of acne. Antioxidants such as grape seed extract also reduce inflammation from acne and free radicals.

Menopausal skin. Melatonin, in addition to regulating sleep, is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect nuclear and mitochondrial DNA. Glucosamine is the building block for the ingredients needed to heal or repair the dermis, as well as all of the rest of the connective tissue throughout the body. And gamma-aminobutyric acid, which is responsible for the regulation of muscle tone, is also a key nutrient.

Stressed skin. B vitamins and glucosamine are essential for tissue repair and healing, as is vitamin C, coenzyme Q-10 and pomegranate, which boosts skin’s natural SPF. In addition, oregano, an anti-inflammatory herb and curcumin, which comes from turmeric (found in curries), offer cell-protective and anti-cancer benefits. Zinc also relieves inflammation and EFAs strengthen skin cell membranes. Lecithin, which is mainly comprised of phosphatidylcholine, is also excellent for stressed or overprocessed skin because it is a major component of cellular membranes. Lecithin makes cell membranes strong, so intracellular water doesn’t leak.

The “pitcher” of health

Stepping away from the traditional idea of a food pyramid, consider the symbolism of a pitcher—a vessel that holds water. The food groups within the pitcher encourage intracellular water as they give the body the nutrients it needs to feed cells for overall health and youthful skin.

Fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables form the base of the pitcher. More of these foods should be eaten than any other group—three or more servings a day of fruits, and five or more servings of vegetables. For example, a small- or medium-sized fruit, such as an apple, is one serving, and 1⁄2 cup of chopped vegetables is one serving. Fruits and vegetables are rich in phytochemicals, such as polyphenols, and are the healing antioxidants the body needs.