July 1, 2012

The Summer Diet for Healthy Skin

 A person’s skin is an outer reflection of inner health. Beauty will pale even in the most fair when underlying health is lost, while those who are healthy on the inside also are radiant on the outside – with clear, moist, glowing skin.

Are you ready to feed your face? Here is the “chow bella” crash course on what foods you need and why.

Can what you eat really affect how you look? Yes, and I’m not talking about severe deficiencies – You needn’t be so drained of vitamin C that you bruise easily (a sign of scurvy) or so lacking in vitamin B2 to have cracks at the corners of your mouth. Even slight short falls from an optimal diet leave subtle effects on your looks. The reason is that the skin is one of the first tissues affected by nutrition and general health. Because the cells of the skin have a short life span, signs of poor nutrition develop quickly. The good news is that the nutrients needed for a healthy glow also revitalize your whole body, since every cell – right down to those cute freckles! – need the same arsenal of vitamins and minerals to stay well-tuned. Vanity might just be your best vice!

The first rule for healthy skin is to go low fat and focus on the right fats. Adopting a diet that supplies about 20% fat or less lowers your risk for skin cancer, while high-fat diets increased skin cancer risk four-fold. But that doesn’t mean you have to cut out all fats. The omega-3 fats in fish are exceptions; they lower skin cancer risk, at least in preliminary studies on animals. And a type of fat called linoleic acid found in nuts, seeds, and wheat germ, is important for healthy, moist skin. A deficiency causes dry, rough, itchy, or blotchy skin. So, include at least 2 servings of fatty fish in the weekly diet, purchase foods fortified with the omega-3 fat DHA, and limit intake of saturated fatty foods, such as red meat and whole-fat dairy foods.

Next, it is important to focus on antioxidant-rich foods. The number one enemy of skin is the sun. Ultraviolet (UV) rays in sunlight generate oxygen fragments called free radicals. These highly-reactive compounds pierce delicate cell membranes and attack the genetic code within skin cells, damaging underlying structures, such as collagen and elastic fibers. (UVA light penetrates the outer layers of the skin, causing sunburn, sun spots, rough texture, and skin cancer. UBA light penetrates deeper skin layers, resulting in wrinkles.)

Fortunately, the skin has an anti-free radical system comprised of antioxidants that protect the skin from free-radical damage. Frequent sun exposure and smog both deplete the skin’s antioxidants, such as beta carotene and vitamins C and E. It also takes up to three months to accumulate antioxidants in skin. These antioxidants work as a team, so a combination is better than focusing on only one. Load at least half the plate at every meal with colorful fruits and vegetables, drink tea, have a glass of red wine, and choose whole grains and legumes.

Finally, drink water and include fluid-packed foods in the daily diet, such as watermelon (it’s 92% water!) to keep skin fully hydrated.

Alex Dram via Compfight

Just Do This Today

Switch from:
1. Milk chocolate to dark chocolate. Look for at least 70% cocoa powder. Dark chocolate is a powerhouse of antioxidants that protect cells from age-related damage, thus lowering the risk for heart disease and dementia, and even possibly aiding in weight loss. Just keep the portion to 1 oz and no more than 5 times a week.

Red Wine 2. White to red wine. Compared to white wine, red wine is packed with antioxidants…more than 20 times that found in white wine. It helps keep platelets from clumping in the blood, possibly preventing blood clots. Moderation is key. One glass of red wine a day for women, and no more than 2 glasses for men.

3. Whole wheat to 100% whole wheat. Unless a bread’s label says it is 100%, assume it only has a dusting of whole grain. Chewy whole grains have a low glycemic index, so they help lower the risk for heart disease and diabetes and aid in weight loss. 100% whole grains also are loaded with antioxidants, trace minerals like chromium and zinc, and fibers that reduce the risk for everything from colon cancer to heart disease.

4. Soft drinks to tea. For every ounce of soda you drink, your risk for being overweight increases…that’s how strong the link is between soda pop and your waistline. On the other hand, tea brewed at home is cheaper and packed w/ antioxidants…and has no calories!

Hot Off the Diet Press

1. The Diabetic Grocery List: Perhaps grocery stores should rename their Produce departments the anti-diabetes section. According to researchers at the Institute of Granville Public Market Metabolic Science in Cambridge, U.K., people who get a wide range of colorful fruits and vegetables in their daily diets are at lowest risk for developing diabetes. Food intakes from 3,704 adults between the ages of 40- and 79-years-old were compared to diabetes occurrence 11 years later. Only 16% of those consuming at least 6 servings daily of fruits and vegetables at the start of the study developed diabetes, compared to 21% of those with the lowest intake. Even when weight, exercise habits, smoking, and education were considered, a moderately high produce intake still lowered risk by 21%. Variety was even more important, with those people who averaged 16 different fruits and vegetables per week having about a 40% lower risk of developing diabetes. http://1.usa.gov/L3uc5n

2. Eat Bad, Feel Awful: People battling depression consume diets low in several nutrients, according to a study from the University of Wollongong, Australia. Dietary. intakes were completed on 32 men and 77 women, of which 52% had depression and 19% showed symptoms of anxiety disorder. Results showed that those with depression had significantly lower intakes of magnesium, folate, and calcium. Magnesium was directly linked to risk for depression. The researchers conclude that patients with depression and/or anxiety should eat diets rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Another study from Rush University Medical Center found that low quality diets high in sugar, saturated fats, and sodium were associated with severe depression, and researchers at the University of Montreal found that high-fat diets were linked to depression.

3. Hello! Is Anyone Listening Out There? Despite decades of education on the benefits of fiber-rich foods, Americans have not budged one gram higher in their fiber intake, according to a study from the University of South Carolina in Charleston. Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) on adults aged 18-years-old and older was used to assess fiber intake between 1999 and 2008 in the U.S. Results showed average daily intake continues to hover at about 16 grams a day, 36% below the minimum recommendation of 25 grams. Overweight people consume even less, or as little as 14 grams a day, and African Americans do the worst, averaging as little as 13 grams a day.

Food & Mood Tip – Skip the Fad Diets!

Restrictive diets contribute to emotional eating. People who diet or eat fewer calories than they need are semi-starving themselves, and this places them at particular risk for uncontrolled emotional eating. Repeated dieting also teaches a person to replace internal cues of real physical hunger with external signals, such as eating at certain times or eating only certain foods. This numbs you to the hunger response. Once a person loses the ability to recognize physical hunger, it is easy to mistake physical discomfort, such as feeling lonely or depressed, as being hungry. Consequently, dieters often eat for reasons other than just needing fuel, which can lead to weight gain. It’s amazing how much food a person can consume when eating in response to feelings like depression or loneliness, rather than physical. For mood and waistline, it is essential that we learn to listen to our bodies, eat only when physically hungry, stop when comfortably full, and find non-food ways to soothe our emotions.

Eat Your Way to Sexy This Week

Take a Supplement or Two. Anyone worth their weight in nutrition credentials will tell you to go to food first for your dietary needs. I agree. Eat a perfect diet and you’ll meet almost all your requirements for vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and fiber. The problem is, close to nobody is eating perfectly. A survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) found that 99 out of every 100 of us don’t meet even minimum standards of a balanced diet. We average only three to four servings of fruits and vegetables, and even then, choose the absolutely worst options – potatoes, iceberg lettuce, and apple juice.

Eat Your Way to Sexy, By Elizabeth SomerEven if you ate perfectly every day, following the SExY diet guidelines in my book, Eat Your Way to Sexy, to the letter, your diet probably would come up short for a few nutrients. For example, you would need to drink 10 glasses of milk to get the minimum recommendation for vitamin D and you would far exceed your daily limit for red wine trying to get enough resveratrol. Some nutrients, such as folic acid and vitamin K, are better absorbed or used by the body in supplement form than from food, and some nutrients, such as vitamin B12 and calcium, are needed in increasing amounts as we age. For these and more reasons, take a moderate dose multi; a bit more calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D; and an omega-3 DHA supplement on the days you don’t eat perfectly.

Mood-Boosting Recipe of the Week

Peruvian Watermelon Juice
Luscious, fresh fruit is everywhere in Peru. Watermelon juice, or jugo de sandia, is one of the local’s favorites. Just one glass of this refreshing drink supplies half your day’s requirement for vitamin C, and a good amount of fiber, vitamin B6, manganese, and potassium.


3 cups watermelon (seedless) cut into small chunks
1 cup of frozen raspberries, or strawberries (both work well)
1 large orange, rind and seeds removed
1 lemon, rind and seeds removed

1. In a blender, puree all the above ingredients until desired consistency, add extra orange juice or water if too thick.

2. Pour into tall, chilled glasses, garnish with a small slice of watermelon

Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional Information (per serving): 87 Calories; 8% fat (0.8 g total, 0 g saturated), 85% carbohydrate (18.5 g), 7% protein (1.5 g), 0 mg cholesterol, 3.5 g fiber, 3 mg sodium.

Answers to “Do You Know?” From Last Issue:

1. Which fruit and/or vegetable is the best source of lycopene?
While tomatoes have received all the press when it comes to lycopene, watermelon actually is the best source of this antioxidant-rich carotenoid. Lycopene is one of hundreds of carotenoids in food, beta carotene being the most famous. Lycopene is a pigment in red fruits and vegetables; other sources besides watermelon and tomatoes include grapefruit and guava. (Strawberries are red, but they get their color from another compound other than lycopene.) Unlike beta carotene, lycopene Watermeloncannot be converted to vitamin A in the body, but it is an even more potent antioxidant than beta carotene, which might be one of the reasons why lycopene lowers heart disease risk. It also might explain why diets rich in lycopene are associated with lower risks for all sorts of cancers, especially cancers of the prostate, cervix, skin, bladder, breast, lung and digestive tract. Eating a lot of lycopene-rich foods also might help protect skin from sun damage. No one is sure exactly how much lycopene you need every day, but evidence suggests at least 10 milligrams, or the amount you would get in 1 cup of watermelon chunks.

2. Do you know what is America’s favorite fruit, and why it’s so good for you?
BananasBananas. More than 90% of US households buy bananas regularly and not only are they the most popular fruit, they are the #1 item sold in supermarkets. Dole is the world’s #1 banana brand. This fruit is an excellent source of potassium, and a good source of vitamins B6 and C, manganese, and fiber. Bananas replenish necessary carbohydrates and fluids lost during exercise, they contain electrolytes, and are the perfect alternative to processed sports drinks and bars packed with sodium and added sugars.

Do You Know?

1. What is the safest sugar substitute?

2. What are the 3 nutrients essential for weight loss?

Check next week for the answers….

Label Lingo

“Rich in Omega-3s!” says the label. Well, that is all well and good, but there are three omega-3s and they aren’t all created equal. The omega-3 found in walnuts, soy, flax, and other plant foods is called alpha linolenic acid or ALA. It lowers heart disease risk, but there is not a substantial body of evidence to show that it affects mood or mind. The other two omega-3s, EPA and DHA, also lower heart disease risk, as well as reduce risk for depression, dementia, and possibly even Alzheimer’s disease. Of these two omega-3s, DHA is the most important.

When reading labels, don’t assume because a food is rich in omega-3s, that it contains the right ones. Look for a logo on the side or back label that says “life’s DHA.” That ensures you are getting the correct omega-3.

The Daily Menu

Put know how into practice with this simple, nutritious meal plan. Reduce the waffles to 1 and eliminate the evening dessert/snack if you want to cut an additional 250 calories. And, with all the menus in my newsletter, feel free to tweak to your food preferences and choices.

2 whole-grain waffles toasted and topped with 1/4 cup fat-free sour cream and 1 /2 cup apricots canned in juice and drained
1 cup orange juice

Portobello Mushroom Burger: Saute in a non-stick frying pan one large Portobello mushroom cap in 1 teaspoon olive oil. Top with 1 ounce Gruyère cheese (or cheese of your choice), 1 medium tomato sliced, 1 slice red onion, and 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard. Place on whole wheat bun.
1 cup celery sticks

1 glass of Peruvian Watermelon Juice (See recipe above.)
1 ounce nuts

4 ounces halibut steak, grilled and topped with:
Corn Salsa: Mix 3 tablespoons corn kernels, 1 medium tomato chopped, 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro, 1 tablespoon chopped red onion, 1 teaspoon finely-chopped canned chilies
1 cup Wehani Rice with Dried Cherries: Cook 1/4 cup wehani rice in 1 /2+ cup chicken broth until done (about 55 minutes). While rice is cooking, saute 1/4 sliced onion in 1 teaspoon butter and a pinch of brown sugar over low heat until caramelized. Mix 3 tablespoons dried cherries (dried cranberries also are good) into cooked rice. Let stand for 5 minutes then add and stir onions, 1 teaspoon chopped walnuts, and pinch of orange zest.
Spinach Salad: 2 cups baby spinach leaves, 1/4 cup canned and drained kidney beans, 2 ounces water-packed artichoke hearts, 2 tablespoons diced red onion, and 1 tablespoon lite Dijon vinaigrette dressing

2 cups frozen blueberries
1 cup 1% low-fat milk, warmed and sprinkled with nutmeg

Nutrition Score: 1,943 calories, 24% fat (52 g; 18 g saturated), 58% carbs (282 g), 18% protein (87 g), 1,178 mg calcium, 41 g fiber.