Beauty from Within

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Beauty from Within

Few of us are willing to accept the signs of aging without putting up a fight. The good news is that we don’t have to, as there are ingestible products that can help in holding back the hands of time. Targeting specifically the skin, nutricosmetics are today’s secret weapon to ageless beauty.

If you have never heard of the term nutricosmetics, you would not be alone. Nutricosmetics are a growing number of edible and drinkable products containing specific nutrients known to promote healthy and radiant skin, in effect feeding your skin from the inside out.

While nutricosmetics may be a new word in our lexicon today, we will be seeing more of these products in health food stores in the future.

Nutricosmetics have been hugely popular in Europe and Japan and are only now starting to gain acceptance in North America. Sales are expected to reach US$2.5 billion by 2012, according to Grail Research in its February 2010 report, New & Unique Innovations in the Beauty Market.

In fact, the first annual North American nutricosmetics conference took place in Las Vegas in June 2010, attracting over 120 manufacturers, suppliers, formulators, marketers, and innovators in the natural beauty industry. Here’s what some of the experts have to say about nutricosmetics.

Antioxidants: first line of defence

Many products targeting skin health contain antioxidants, as they help to curb the damage caused by unstable molecules known as free radicals. Free radicals are produced naturally in our bodies and are byproducts of biochemical reactions.

Some skin-friendly antioxidants include vitamins A, C, and E, as well as minerals such as selenium and zinc.

However, if we think that taking antioxidant supplements while continuing to eat a junk food diet is going to prevent the signs of aging, we should think again. Alan C. Logan, ND, says antioxidant function depends entirely on the foods we eat. The author of The Clear Skin Diet and the more recent Your Skin, Younger, Logan says, “This wonderful antioxidant defence system depends entirely on diet.”

“Dietary nutrients turn on the ignition and ultimately drive the antioxidant enzymes, and the second line of defense, the non-enzymatic antioxidant armour [vitamins, minerals], is obviously obtained directly though our food and beverages of choice.”

Anti-inflammatories: second line of defence

Nutritional expert and television host Julie Daniluk, RHN, targets inflammation as an overlooked culprit to not only chronic pain but also skin conditions such as acne and psoriasis. “Inflammation is linked intrinsically to the foods we eat,” says Daniluk, author of Meals That Heal Inflammation. “More than 70 percent of our immune system is found along the lining of our digestive tract.”

Two potent omega-3 fatty acids that can dramatically reduce inflammation, she says, are eicosapentaenoic acids (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acids (DHA), found readily in cold-water oily fish, including salmon, anchovies, mackerel, and sardines.

“The body can manufacture inflammation-controlling hormones but requires additional fatty acids as building blocks, and these must be obtained from the diet.” Logan says that supplementation may be necessary for most North Americans, as we do not regularly eat ocean fish. “For optimal protection against the skin-aging process, consider taking at 1,000 mg of EPA daily.”

The new skin ingredients

Exciting new skin research has uncovered a number of new ingredients that have a remarkable effect on skin health. Here are just a few.

Ceramides
Natural ceramides have been known to help promote healthy skin hydration by restoring the skin barrier. They are found most notably in the oils of rice bran and wheat germ.

Cocoa
Containing higher levels of flavonoids per serving than black tea, green tea, and red wine, cocoa has been shown to increase skin hydration, thickness, and elasticity. Its long-term ingestion may protect against ultraviolet (UV) light.

Marine fish collagen
Research shows internal use of fish collagen improves skin moisture level. It also smoothes the skin by reducing the number of micro-relief furrows and even prevents deep wrinkles from forming.

Lycopene
Found naturally in a range of red-coloured fruits including tomatoes, melons, papayas, and pink grapefruits, lycopene is said to protect cells against the damage caused by UV radiation to the skin.

The new buzzword in nutrition and cosmetic circles may be nutricosmetics, but in the fight against aging, a healthy body equals beautiful skin.

Think of nutricosmetics as a double-edged sword, providing the nutrients needed for optimal health and, at the same time, acting as foot soldiers in protecting your skin.

It is a battle plan that is bound to win the war against the signs of aging.

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