Lifestyle & Retirement

Healthy living can lead to beautiful skin

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Health resolutions have some spectacular side effects – glowing skin, shiny hair and a boost of confidence.

So there’s no shame in making beauty a top priority. Beauty and better health go hand-in-hand.

"Think about taking care of your skin as an organ – people forget about that," said Dr. Kelli Lovelace , a dermatologist at the Tulsa Dermatology Clinic. "It’s important to drink water and have a healthy diet."

Avoiding the sun and checking the skin for irregularities are Lovelace’s top recommendations to her patients.

"The No. 1 thing people need to do is wear sunscreen. It needs to be a 30 SPF, and it needs to be (applied) every day – even in the winter, even on cloudy days," she said. "It’s important for people to know to apply it to the face, neck, chest and the back of the hands and arms."

Lovelace said the 30 SPF recommendation comes from the American Academy of Dermatology because "most people don’t use enough sunscreen to get the SPF (protection) listed on the bottle."

And another no-no for skin health is the tanning bed, she said.

"We know it’s not safe, so you need to stop using those indoor beds," Lovelace said.

Remedies for aging skin

Many people are concerned with repairing the damage from the sun and years of lackluster care. Yet they are overwhelmed by the thousands of products on the market that claim to be anti-aging and anti-wrinkling.

Lovelace said for selecting a product, the key word is "retinol."

"I don’t feel it’s necessary to spend hundreds of dollars on products because there are a lot of good products at the drugstore," she said.

A product containing retinol "encourages new collagen and elastic growth" in the skin, she said.

"They can lighten dark spots and encourage new growth within the collagen fibers. The only warning I have is if patients have sensitive skin, they need to be aware of the side effects," Lovelace said.

For drugstore choices, she recommends two products: Olay’s Age Defying Anti-Wrinkle Replenishing Night Cream (about $15), and Neutrogena’s Tone Correcting Concentrated Serum (about $17).

Dermatologists also can recommend other doctor-dispensed products, she said.

"People always want to know about eye creams, and the most important thing about eyes is to keep them well moisturized," she said. "Also you need to make sure that the skin around them is being protected. If you can tolerate a sunscreen around the eyes, that’s fine. But maybe you need to get an actual eye cream with a lower- strength sunscreen."

And wear eye protection, too.

"Wear sunglasses with UV protection," Lovelace said.

Winter is a good time to concentrate on sun spots and dark spots because sun exposure is more limited, she said.

For dark spot correction, bleaches have become available recently at many beauty counters and in other over-the-counter products, she said.

But before you shell out a lot of cash, Lovelace said the ingredients are possibly no different from those in products you already have.

"It’s a powerful antioxidant and exfoliate, so really that’s all it does," she said of some popular age spot correctors. "You’re spending $50 for that, and all it’s doing is exfoliating, which is what retinol does. It’s not that it doesn’t work, but there are lots of different ways to get to that same endpoint."

Beauty inside-out

To dietitians, who often consult clients with skin problems, beauty "starts from the inside out," said Rene Norman, a registered and licensed dietitian with Nutrition Consultants of Tulsa.

"Nothing ages you more than skin that doesn’t look good," Norman said.

Starting with the basics is crucial – and that means more fruits and vegetables.

"If people are looking for skin health, incorporating fruits and vegetables is very important – and including as many colors as possible because they contain naturally occurring antioxidants," Norman said. "Those are the chemicals in the food that slow down the aging process."

Norman recommends seven to nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day – and she knows that amount might seem daunting.

"It sounds like a whole bushel," she said. "But half a cup of chopped fruits or vegetables is a serving, so is a very small apple. A large apple is usually two."

By adding a few elements to a green salad, you are getting up to four servings at once.

"Two greens and a non-starchy vegetable, and there you go," said Norman.

Water is essential for skin health – and Norman has a good guide on getting enough.

"The rule of thumb is to take your healthy body weight (actual or aspired weight) and divide it by two, and that’s how many ounces you need on a quiet day," she said. "If you’re exercising you need to replace what you’re sweating off."

Sunscreens

Shopping for the perfect anti-aging product is a tough task these days because of myriad products on the market.

But before you spend a fortune, dermatologist Dr. Kelli Lovelace said learning the ingredients on the label is helpful.

"Be careful not to expect too much," she said. "When you turn it over and read the back, sometimes it’s just a sunscreen product. Because it is anti-aging to use sunscreen, they’re not lying – it’s just a little misleading."

Products that contain caffeine, retinol, vitamins and antioxidants are good, but "you have to have a realistic expectation about what they will offer," she said. "You should probably look at those products as an adjunctive to your daily skin care, which should be using sunscreen."

Some labels of beauty products contain these scientific names for sunscreen, Lovelace said:

oxybenzone

avobenzone

zinc oxide

titanium dioxide

Beauty foods

Some foods will help you maintain healthy skin, Tulsa dietitian Rene Norman says.

Anti-inflammatory: These foods tend to slow the aging process, she said – the richest being fish-based omega-3 fats, such as salmon, tuna, lake trout, sardines and mackerel. Also, extra virgin olive oil, expeller-pressed canola oil and flax seeds.

Healthy fats: Nuts, avocados, salmon, tuna, sardines, and olive and canola oils are helpful in creating healthy cells, which promote healthy skin.

Vitamin A: Norman credits vitamin A with "healthy skin both on the outside and the linings of the blood vessels and organs inside your body." Fruits and vegetables have pre-vitamin A beta-carotene. Norman says to eat vitamin A foods with a little fat for it to absorb.

Vitamins C, zinc and copper: These help form elastin for your skin. Vitamin C is abundant in tomatoes, berries, peppers, citrus, leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. Zinc is in lean meats, poultry and oysters. Copper is found in organ meats, especially liver, but also in sunflower seeds, peanuts and mushrooms.

Food to avoid

Sugar: Norman said that high fructose corn syrup and other refined carbohydrates (white bread, snack cakes, chips) elevate insulin levels, which result in high testosterone levels that promote acne.

Sources: Nutrition Consultants of Tulsa, the American Dietetic Association’s "Complete Guide to Food and Nutrition," WebMD, Natural Medicine’sComprehensive Database, and the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity

(c) 2012 Tulsa World. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.

 

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