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Promoting Beauty With Food and Drink

By: Jonathan Selzer, PhD
Posted: June 29, 2010, from the July 2010 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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These critical proteins make up the skin’s supporting matter and are easily destroyed by enzymes called collagenases and elastases, along with other protein-breaking enzymes. In fact, UV light from the sun, ROS and inflammation contribute to the activity of these enzymes, further degrading the structure of the skin.

Once again, the body’s natural defenses against the enzymatic destruction of the skin decrease with age. Luckily, they can be inhibited with natural products in the diet. One of the most powerful of these is green tea, which actually decreases the activity of collagenase and elastase.3, 6 Others include pomegranate, aloe vera, turmeric and rosemary. In fact, pomegranate extract has been shown to stimulate the production of collagen, increasing the skin’s elasticity.7, 8

Elastin is also inhibited by the decrease in estrogen associated with menopause—this is one reason that people develop wrinkles as they age. Pinch an older person’s hand, and the skin stays put for minutes. Pinch a child’s hand, and the skin returns almost instantly to its smooth appearance. Phytoestrogens are plant substances that act like estrogen in the body without the negative side effects that often come with hormone replacement therapy.9, 10 The isoflavones in kudzu root, lotus leaf and soy are commonly used phytoestrogens that have been shown to help women during menopause. For this reason, phytoestrogens should play an important role in any internal nutrition program.

Energy

It is not easy to keep up good appearances. With all the aforementioned forces pulling at the skin and gravity weighing you down, you need all the energy you can muster to keep looking fit and youthful. Consider two aspects of energy: the overall feeling of being energized, and cellular energy and a healthy metabolism.

Many of the superfruits, such as pomegranate, acai, goji, mangosteen and blueberry have been shown to be energizing. After drinking a tea with these ingredients, people feel energetic and healthy. Green tea has a similar effect, leaving the consumer charged and prepared for the day. Oxidative stress weakens the immune system, causes oxidative damage to cells, and interferes with normal metabolism and the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) energy. These antioxidant and anti-inflammatory fruits help to relieve oxidative stress, giving way to a more energized body.