Both topically and internally, the focus on nutrition and skin care is becoming a clear pathway to improved skin wellness.
Whether through supplementation or the encouragement of dietary improvement, avoiding this topic with your clients is doing a disservice to their skin care goals. In this column, you will get the point of view of a physician and esthetician, as well as a marketing perspective on the importance of nutrition when it comes to skin wellness, providing truthful, useful information as to why the healthy way is the right way for your clients.
Physician’s point of view: Steven H. Dayan MD, FACSThere is a movement called age management medicine. Physicians who are proponents of this movement argue that the goal is not to make clients live longer, but to make them live healthier. Traditional medicine teaches that eating a balanced meal will provide the body with all the vitamins and minerals necessary for good health. Some concepts, such as supplementation with oral antioxidants and fish oils, have been thought of as radical. However, antioxidant therapy is known to reduce inflammation and even to reverse some of the damage caused by heart disease.
Saturated fats are found in whole milk, cheese, red meats, poultry skin and even in some plant foods, such as palm and coconut oils. Trans fats are man-made fats that are most commonly seen in processed foods. Trans fats were created to allow a liquid fat to turn into a solid and last longer without spoiling. These fats are the worst kinds of fats and are often listed on labels as hydrogenated oils. They are used for frying and also to increase the stability and shelf life of snack foods. Most fried foods and processed meats, chips and margarine contain high levels of these trans fats, which are associated with increasing the levels of bad cholesterol in the blood, leading to heart disease and triggering inflammation. Inflammation may be the main culprit in cancer, aging and poor skin, so it is best to advise clients to eliminate foods that contain hydrogenated oils from their diets.
Good fats include monounsaturated fats, such as those found in olives, olive oil, peanuts and avocados, and polyunsaturated fats, such as those found in corn, soybeans and fish. Fish, in particular, contain high amounts of the polyunsaturated fat omega-3. Omega-3 fats are not made internally in the body and can only be acquired from the diet. Omega-6 fats are also found in nature, are important for healthy metabolic function and are found in soy, sunflower, cottonseed, canola, peanut, grape seed and corn oils. Foods rich in omega-3 and -6 are common to the Mediterranean diet, and may be partly responsible for the low rates of heart disease and cancer seen in people living on Greek islands, such as Crete. Diets too high in omega-6 fats can be a cause of inflammation and are not healthy. Not only do diets with good fats reduce inflammation and heart disease, but they also may improve the appearance of the skin.
The intake of sugar and simple carbohydrates may also affect the skin’s appearance. Foods such as soda, many types of bread, candy bars and beer raise blood sugar levels rapidly. This results in a quick energy boost, but soon follows with a rapid fall in blood sugar levels, resulting in fatigue and hunger. The cycle is vicious. It is not healthy and leads to long-term inflammation and cell injury. It is now known that excess sugar in the body throughout time can negatively affect many organs, including the skin. A diet rich in sugar ultimately affects the aging of skin and can actually make a person look older. Excess sugar is also speculated to affect collagen fibers and results in a process called glycation, which causes the skin to turn yellow and look older.
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