By: Lynn Ogryzlo

Society is obsessed with youth. I recently heard that science is close to developing the fountain-of-youth pill. Research suggests we’re really close to identifying the genes that controls aging and if that happens, a pill won’t be far behind. Imagine that, the probability of living until the ripe old age of 200. So what will we actually look like at 200 years?

We already know we’re living longer. Today we have the ability to be fully functioning, vibrant and productive members of society for decades beyond our parent’s generation. And while we can’t stop the aging process, we can make a significant dent in the wrinkling, sagging and dulling of our complexion with the food choices we make.

That’s right, we really are what we eat. Good health and beautiful skin go hand in hand. In fact, there is a diet that promises youthful, wrinkle-free, vibrant looking skin. The Perricone Prescription ($24.95 Harper Collins) is the first and only food based diet for beauty.

In his book, Dr. Nicholas Perricone claims, “food is the most powerful ally in the fight against wrinkles, sags and loss of skin tone.”

An expert dermatologist, Perricone had determined that inflammation is the root cause of the aging process and that nutrition is a major weapon in the battle against inflammation. It makes sense. We already accept the relationship between inflammation and most chronic degenerative diseases like arthritis, diabetes, asthma, multiple sclerosis, atherosclerosis, cancer, stroke, psoriasis and now, aging.

In his book, Perricone identifies some of the symptoms of aging as, “wrinkles, why you forget everything from where you left your car keys to your neighbour’s first name, why you can be irritable and depressed and why you lose the healthy bloom of youth.” Yet he promises, it doesn’t have to be that way.

So why food? Studies show that good quality food is a living, dynamic substance that offers synergistic benefits that supplements alone cannot give. Sure, kicking nicotine habits and avoiding excessive sunlight will help, but the foundation of healthy-looking skin is the food you eat. Dr. Perricone explains that the wrong kinds of foods are responsible for, “rapid, premature aging, for a tired, drawn and doughy complexion, flaccid, weak muscle tone, wrinkled, leathery, dried-out looking facial skin, fatigue and poor brain power.”

Dr. Perricone’s Three-Day Nutritional Face-lift Diet involves eating nothing but anti-aging foods for three days. Fish is the star of this diet, specifically wild salmon. Wild salmon is believed to be freer from additives or toxins and is rich in essential fatty acids, which give this diet its great anti-aging benefits. The rest of his regime is drinking plenty of water and/or green tea as well as eating lots of green veggies and berry fruits. All products containing sugar, carbs, processed foods and caffeine are strictly prohibited as well as the ones we love the most like coffee, pasta, potatoes, white rice, pastries and other sweets. Even fast, processed foods are eliminated.

Other research on premature aging I found claims that real chocolate helps your skin stay young (not chocolate bars but real chocolate). Starchy foods like rice and potatoes will make your skin age prematurely. Oil is good to keep skin looking supple and contrary to what some may believe it’s carbs, not oil that put on those unwanted pounds. I read that the occasional fasting is the best-kept anti-aging secret and that skipping the occasional meal will make your body repair cells.

Now, while salmon, buckwheat and oysters are great foods for your skin, achieving great-looking skin through dietary changes doesn’t have to be so specific and so strict. A healthy body means healthy skin. Just feed your body good, healthy foods, drink plenty of water, get some exercise, keep your stress low and your skin will reap the benefits.

Pile of pistachio nuts

Today Niagara’s Foods to Beautify Your Skin

Salmon is among the highest omega-3 containing fish. The pigment that makes the salmon pink, is a powerful foe of free radicals. Tuna and sardines are others. Tuna’s omega-3 fatty acids fight UV-related cell damage while sardines promote hair growth and a shiny, bouncy head of hair.
As we age, our skin begins to produce less oil and cell rejuvenation slows down. Omega-3 fatty acids replenish our natural oils and reduce inflammation to promote smooth, clear and glowing skin and keeps the heart’s arteries clear to improve circulation. Good circulation is crucial to skin health.

Flaxseed oil, walnuts, pistachios, almonds, wheat germ, oysters and lentils are all good sources of zinc. Zinc aids in protein synthesis, collagen formation, new-cell production and the sloughing off of dead skin cells. All of this gives skin a nice glow.

Vitamin C rich foods are citrus fruit, tomatoes, jicama, kelp, hot peppers, bell peppers, Brussel sprouts and spinach. Black currants contain five times the vitamin C that oranges do while mangos provide 96% of your daily vitamin C needs. Vitamin C promotes the production of collagen which begins to break down at 35 years of age, causing sagging skin. It also fights inflammation promoting smooth and taut skin.

Spinach, kale and leafy greens especially Romaine lettuce provide tons of vitamin A while orange-red vegetables like peppers, mangos, carrots and sweet potatoes are full of beta-carotene. Our bodies convert beta-carotene into vitamin A that acts as an antioxidant preventing cell damage and premature aging. These foods help your skin produce more fresh new cells and get rid of the old ones, reducing dryness and keeping your face looking bright and young.

The whole grain buckwheat, avocados and mushrooms are a good source for the antioxidant rutin, which helps combat inflammation-related skin damage. Replacing refined-flour pancakes with buckwheat pancakes can reduce acne. In fact, all processed (or refined) flours can cause an insulin spike, which in turn can encourage acne. Rutin and B Vitamins equals’ clear and moisturized skin.

Wheat germ provides the B-vitamin biotin, which assists cells in processing fats. If you don’t have enough biotin in your body, your skin can become dry and scaly. In general, whole grains instead of processed carbohydrates can improve your complexion.

One serving of blueberries provides more antioxidant activity than most fruits and veggies. Antioxidants fight the free radicals that cause inflammation and wrinkles. Black garlic also helps to repair age-damaged skin and you can use it in place of regular garlic in most recipes. Uniquely colored due to its fermentation process, black garlic contains double the antioxidants as regular garlic and can be eaten raw. It strengthens and restores skin cells damaged by the aging process.

Lynn Ogryzlo is a food, wine and travel writer, international award winning author and regular contributor to REV Publications. She can be reached for questions or comments at www.lynnogryzlo.com.