A Truly Healthy Glow

Life Extension Featured Article

January 14, 2011

A truly healthy glow

Digestive strengthens green tea benefits

Contrary to what the tanning industry might have people believe, the way to the most attractive glow is not via carcinogenic and skin-damaging sun exposure but by consuming fruit and vegetables that are high in carotenoids. Carotenoids, which include alpha and beta-carotene and other antioxidant compounds, give red, orange and yellow fruit their color, and also occur in green vegetables.

In an article published online on December 23, 2010 in the journal Evolution and Human Behaviour, Dr Ian Stephen, currently of the University of Nottingham, and his colleagues at Perception Lab at the University of St Andrews in Scotland found that individuals with a greater intake of carotenoids, fruit and vegetables have an increased yellow skin tone consistent with enhanced carotenoid absorption. When viewing photographs of Caucasian faces, volunteers judged the golden color associated with carotenoids as appearing healthier than tones typical of tanning. A preference for a yellow tone was also observed in research involving an African population.

“Most people think the best way to improve skin color is to get a suntan, but our research shows that eating lots of fruit and vegetables is actually more effective," Dr Stephen said. “We found that, given the choice between skin color caused by suntan and skin color caused by carotenoids, people preferred the carotenoid skin color, so if you want a healthier and more attractive skin color, you are better off eating a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables than lying in the sun.”

The findings are consistent with the evolutionary benefit of selecting a potential mate whose appearance signals good health. “This is something we share with many other species," noted coauthor Professor David Perrett, PhD, who is the head of the Perception Lab at St Andrews. "For example, the bright yellow beaks and feathers of many birds can be thought of as adverts showing how healthy a male bird is. What’s more, females of these species prefer to mate with brighter, more colored males. But this is the first study in which this has been demonstrated in humans.”

"Together our studies link skin carotenoid coloration to both perceived health and healthy diet, establishing carotenoid coloration as a valid cue to human health which is perceptible in a way that is relevant to mate choice, as it is in bird and fish species," the authors conclude.

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Health Concern Life Extension Highlight

Skin aging

Although there are many diseases that can affect the skin, the most common problems that we all have are the effects of our exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun over time. Having a tan has, in the past, been a sign of good health. In the last 10 years, with the changes in the ozone layer in the upper atmosphere, it is clear that the effects of UV radiation from the sun are much more dangerous than originally thought. There are many causes for the accumulated cellular damage in the skin that we call aging. Among these are the oxidative processes and related free radical damage that result from UV sunlight, smog, toxins, cigarette smoke, X-rays, drugs, and other stressors. Young skin is also exposed to these potentially damaging changes, but when we are young, there is sufficient cellular energy (ATP) for DNA repair and cell renewal. Enzymes that provide antioxidant activity such as SOD and catalase are readily available. As we age, there is increased wear and tear, while at the same time the energy for cell repair and renewal is diminished and the antioxidant enzymes are less available.

Skin cancer typically occurs in skin that is photo-aged. Wrinkles, laxity, uneven pigmentation, brown spots, and a leathery appearance characterize photo-aged skin. In contrast, chronologically aged skin that has been protected from the sun is thin and has reduced elasticity, but is otherwise smooth and unblemished.

The following factors can accelerate skin aging:

  • sun exposure
  • first- or secondhand cigarette smoke
  • environmental toxins
  • poor diet
  • excess alcohol consumption
  • stress
  • harsh soaps or detergent-based moisturizers
  • sleep deprivation

One way of mitigating the effects of these skin-damaging foes is to increase levels of protective antioxidants through a diet rich in fruits and vegetables or by direct topical application.

Advanced Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy Seminar featuring Thierry Hertoghe, MD
February 25-27, 2011
Las Vegas, Nevada

This course is designed for medical professionals and is particularly relevant to naturopathic doctors, general practitioners, endocrinologists, internists, geriatricians, psychiatrists, OB/GYN, dermatologists and cardiologists. Additionally, other health professionals including physician assistants, nurse practitioners and others in this field will find this highly relevant.

  • Overview of diagnosis and therapy for hormone deficiencies
  • Therapies with adrenal hormones: DHEA, safe use of cortisol
  • Sleep disorders and hormone therapies: More efficient than traditional sleep medications
  • Androgen therapy in men and women
  • Estrogen and progesterone therapies in women, also for younger women before menopause
  • Growth hormone therapy in aging adults with some new indications
  • Live diagnosis (consultations on stage)
  • Hormone therapies for psychic disorders
  • IGF1 therapy: More potent than growth hormone?
  • Parathormone therapy for osteoporosis
  • Thyroid therapy
  • Oxytocin happiness hormone and relief for autism
  • The influence of psychic and sexual factors on the endocrine system
  • Hormone therapies for sexual disorders
  • Treatment of obese persons with hormone therapy
  • Pineal hormone therapy

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