Can Broccoli Make You Beautiful?
Posted February 14, 2017
The Q & A this month features a special guest and Bellissimo friend: Leslie Bonci, MPH, RDN, CSSD
Owner- Active Eating Advice- a nutrition consulting company in Pittsburgh, PA
Can Broccoli Make You Beautiful?
As a registered dietitian, I am always encouraging my clients to not just wear color, but eat it! Fruits and vegetables owe their beautiful hues to Phyto (plant nutrients)- so the vibrant red, orange, yellow, green, purple, blue and even white produce you eat is not just nice to look at but also provide head to toe benefits.
The US News and World Report ranking of the best diets of 2016 selected the DASH (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension), Mediterranean and Flexitarian among the top picks. One of the similarities of these three plans is the emphasis on fruits and vegetables.
Ok, we all know that fruits and vegetables are good for our hearts, our waistline, our eyes, and our bones, BUT our skin can also benefit from an abundance of produce on the plate.
The skin’s wish list is for caloric balance- not too much nor too little, an optimal intake of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fluids. At the same time, overconsumption of sugar may affect not just our waistline but our jawline as well. Excess sugar intake may increase the likelihood of collagen breakdown so the skin is not as elastic as it should be. Does this mean you can never have a cupcake? Of course not, but perhaps satisfying some of the sweet cravings with fruits and vegetables will help your skin as well as what is within.
Antioxidants can be found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and oils and protect cells from damage and disintegration. One of the antioxidants is carotene. Think carrots and sweet potatoes and that beautiful orange color. We have a high concentration of carotenoids in the skin and they function to reduce UV light sensitivity. The skin carotenoids give us a healthy color that is a lot safer than using a tanning bed. Note, if you eat a diet that is loo low in fat, you may not store enough carotenoids and your skin may take on some yellow/gray tones. Ugh!
Studies have shown that eating enough fruits and veggies over an 8-week period will result in measurable skin color changes. Ever notice that when you make the effort to eat well, people comment on how good you look? Healthy eating is much more than just your waist size!
The increase in fruits and vegetables results in increased skin redness which contributes to a healthy skin appearance. This can be because of lycopene (a plant nutrient found in fruits and veggies) and/or the effect fruits and vegetables have on the skin’s blood perfusion. In addition, the polyphenols in grapes, peanuts, tea and even wine may be beneficial not only to the elasticity of the arteries but endothelial health as well. So, to put it another way, 1 additional serving of fruits or vegetables daily (½ cup or a piece of fruit the size of a tennis ball) can change skin color in only 6 weeks.
We all know that drinking enough fluid is important. Dehydration or sub hydration increases skin dryness. I always recommend minimizing calories in beverages so the best choices would be: water, milk, unsweetened coffee/tea, small amounts of fruit juice, and vegetable juice. So, what about alcohol? Excess consumption can increase the production of free radicals and increase the breakdown of collagen. Not only is excess alcohol an added source of calories, but it can compromise liver health, elevate triglycerides (blood fats) and increase the risk of breast cancer.
I have many clients who pride themselves on keeping their fat intake to a minimum. This is NOT good for the skin. Monounsaturated fats found in nuts, seeds, olive oil and avocados decrease oxidative stress. Studies have shown that olive oil lowers the risk of severe photoaging and that the omega- 3 fatty acids in salmon, sardines, and flaxseed will keep skin cell membranes strong and elastic. If you eat a diet that is high in carbohydrates and low in fat, you may have a more wrinkled appearance and skin atrophy.
In a review of the NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination study) women who had a more wrinkled appearance had significantly lower intakes of protein, dietary cholesterol, phosphorous, vitamins C, A, K, and linoleic acid. Take home message here- don’t nutritionally disrespect your body or your skin may show the neglect. Eat good, feel good, look good!
For more information on Leslie, please check out her website: www.activeeatingadvice.com