Could eating dark chocolate really make you look 10 years younger?
Yes, says antiageing expert Dr ANTHONY YOUN, who believes following these simple diet rules can help you to turn back the clock
COSMETIC doctor Anthony Youn is a firm believer that you are what you eat. Overhauling your diet is, he says, the key when it comes to turning back the clock.
“Eating the right foods can affect the look and health of your skin not just on your face but all over your body,” he says.
Your diet can play a vital part in helping you look younger for longer. The wrong foods can contribute to water retention, swelling, redness, acne and wrinkles.
However a skin-friendly diet can boost elasticity and make you look 10 years younger.
“Eating for a more youthful appearance isn’t the same as eating for weight loss,” says Dr Youn. “Many diets will leave you looking thinner but older as the skin becomes dehydrated. By eating the right foods you will plump, hydrate and firm the skin.”
Follow the advice below to roll back the years.
FEAST ON... VITAMIN C
It is well known that topical antioxidants such as vitamin C fight free radicals on the surface of your skin but foods rich in antioxidants can do the same thing from the inside.
Free radicals are unstable molecules that damage healthy cells, leading to premature ageing. While they can occur naturally, other causes include pollution, sunlight, chemicals and stress.
Antioxidants, such as those found in vitamin C, work to neutralise these free radicals, preventing them from damaging healthy cells.
In addition to its free radical-fighting power, vitamin C also has an essential role in the production of collagen and elastin.
Try it: As your body can’t store vitamin C it’s important to have a daily dose. Try to eat at least two fresh servings of vitamin C-rich food every day.
Sources include blackberries, blueberries, mango, pineapple, strawberries, broccoli and melon.
Green tea is one of the most powerful antioxidant sources.
It contains polyphenols that mop up free radicals and also protect against sun damage.
Researchers at the University of Kansas found that antioxidants in green tea called catechins are more than 100 times more effective at neutralising free radicals than vitamin C.
Try it: Drink four cups a day to improve the appearance of your skin. If you don’t like the taste then take a 500mg green tea supplement daily.
Chocolate is graded into dark, milk and white according to how much raw cocoa it contains. The higher the percentage of raw cocoa, the greater the antioxidant activity so look for the darkest chocolate possible.
Try it: Any bar made with milk chocolate will not have enough raw cocoa to be beneficial. Look for chocolate with at least 70 per cent cocoa for maximum antioxidants and minimum added sugar.
Several brands make an 80 per cent cocoa bar including Green & Black’s and Lindt.
Zinc is a mineral that helps to boost collagen production and improves the skin’s rejuvenation rate. It acts as an antioxidant and increases cell growth and repair.
Try it: Fill your plate with good sources of zinc including beef, lamb, lentils, spinach and turkey.
Your body needs protein to help it repair and replace collagen that has degraded with age or been damaged by free radicals. One recent study showed that women with lower protein intake had more wrinkles than women with higher protein intake.
Try it: It is recommended that you have 0.8 grams of protein per kilo of body weight daily. This equates to 46 grams per day for an average sedentary woman. You can find protein in lean meat, fish and poultry, nuts and cottage cheese.
PASS ON… SUGAR
It can be hard to resist a slice of cake but it is essential if you want to look young. Sugar is just about the worst thing you can eat when it comes to your skin. Eating too much sugar disrupts your blood sugar levels which can lead to inflammation. Chronic inflammation can worsen rosacea and rashes, increase skin oiliness and may also weaken the collagen and elastin in your skin over time. Try it: The glycaemic index (GI) is a measure of how quickly different types of food are converted into glucose in your bloodstream. The scale runs from zero to 100. Cut down on foods with a high GI such as baked potatoes, white rice, white bread, cereal and processed foods. Fill up on foods with a low GI such as beans, seeds, wholegrains and nuts as they will keep blood sugar levels stable.
Your body needs some salt but most people eat far too much which can lead to water retention.
This results in puffy eyelids and noticeable bags under your eyes.
Try it: The biggest source of salt in most people’s diets is from packaged and processed foods.
Try to cook foods from scratch. Use just enough salt in your cooking to satisfy you and if you can, stop adding salt to your food.
A study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that people who ate a lot of foods high in saturated fats such as processed meat, cakes and pastries had more wrinkles than those who did not.
Animal proteins that are high in saturated fat such as fatty cuts of beef and pork and high-fat cured meat such as bacon and sausage increase inflammation in the body.
Try it: Different kinds of fats have varying impacts on health, especially regarding ageing.
Saturated fats are more damaging to skin than healthier fats such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. If possible avoid the former and opt for the latter, which help to moisturise, reduce inflammation and improve skin elasticity.
Good monounsaturated fats include olive oil, peanut butter and avocados. Polyunsaturated fats (omega-3 fatty acids) can be found in salmon, tuna, sardines, flaxseed and chia seeds.