Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Can a Diet Reverse Wrinkles?

Millions of dollars every year are spent on creams and cosmetic procedures in the hope that they will banish wrinkles, puffy eyes and overall poor skin quality. But what is the point when you are still aging on the inside? Aging is a systemic problem, and one of the best tools in the fight against it is changing your diet. As two women found out for themselves, what improves your health on the inside can also benefit you on the outside.

A blood orange would have more power against AGEs than a
typical orange. Source: Dvortygirl
We already know that smoking and excessive sun exposure speed up skin aging (and physical decline overall in the case of smoking). Many of us know that oxidative stress speeds up aging and contributes to disease. However, it has only recently become known that advanced glycation end-products (AGEs) are a key driver of aging throughout the body. These are produced by high blood sugar, which tangles in tissue proteins, and by certain cooking methods. The average daily diet in countries like the UK and Australia contains 15,000 kilounits of AGEs, but we should aim for no more than 5,000-8,000 kilounits. They are hard to clear once formed, and cause a vicious cycle of oxidative stress, inflammation and damage. As nutritionist and skin specialist Karen Fischer found, wrinkles and sagging skin are caused in part by these nasty little compounds. To reduce their formation, it is best to limit your intake of red meat, dairy, processed foods and added sugar, and to increase your intake of red, purple and black plant foods.

To test out Fischer's diet, some at The Daily Mail enlisted the help of two women willing to try it for 28 days. Both before and after they started, skin wrinkling, sagging, redness and pore size were measured with a Visia scanner, and AGE damage was measured by a TruAge scanner. Their diet began with a three day detox, where meat and caffeine were forbidden but unlimited fruit and vegetables were allowed. Then, they got into a pattern of eating where some fish, poultry and caffeine were permitted again (but not sugar, dairy or alcohol). Fischer recommends that half of lunch and dinner plates be filled by vegetables, one quarter by low-AGE protein (fish, poultry, beans or lentils) and the remaining quarter by low-AGE wholegrains (such as quinoa, basmati rice or sweet potato). She recommends that most drinks be limited to water, herbal tea or vegetable juice, and advises supplementation with purple juice shots and anything else, such as magnesium, that is needed by the individual. The way we cook matters too: baking, grilling, frying and barbecuing increase AGE formation - the browner it is, the more AGEs there are - while steaming and making stews, curries, casseroles and soup inhibit them. Spices such as turmeric, ginger, cinnamon and cloves reduce AGE production, as do acids like lemon and lime juice.

So how did it work? One of the women, 42 year old Kate Habberley, went from a TruAge score of 39 to 33. Her Visia scan showed a 9% reduction in redness, smaller pores and an overall improved skin texture. She also lost 12 pounds (about 6kg), and has no plans to return to her previous diet. Debra Cull, 54, went from her TruAge score of 49 down to 46 in 28 days. Her Visia scan showed a 6% improvement in skin texture and an 11% reduction in open pores, as well as less redness. She did notice that her skin was fresher, clearer and less "crepey" around the eyes; lost 5 pounds; and to her surprise, her hot flashes disappeared! The only thing she really misses from her old diet is wine. If these are the results you get from AGE-counting rather than kilojoule-counting, why not change our way of thinking about food for health?

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