Eat your veggies! Healthy lifestyle can give skin ‘golden glow’, study suggests

Becoming fitter, avoiding stress and sleeping longer as part of a balanced and healthy lifestyle all gave skin an improved tone, the study led by University of St Andrews found. Previous studies have linked improvements in skin colour to a good diet, but the latest study examined the relationship between general health and skin tone. Eating a diet rich in fruit and vegetables increases skin yellowness, thereby making it look healthier and more attractive. The change in skin colour after eating lots of colourful produce is due to the accumulation of plant pigments in the skin, such as orange carotene from carrots and red lycopene from tomatoes. The pigments – called carotenoids – also play an important role as antioxidants, which can help protect against damage from oxidative toxins caused by the likes of pollution, smoking and sugary foods, that can damage DNA and proteins. Researchers found that skin yellowness could be an indicator of a person’s health by demonstrating the body has enough antioxidant reserves and low levels of oxidative stress. Scientists worked with 134 students for the study, measuring fitness from heart rate while walking and running on a treadmill. Lead scientist for the study, Professor David Perrett, from the School of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of St Andrews, explained: “We assessed body fat levels with an impedance meter much like that available on many bathroom weighing scales. “We measured skin colour with a device that records how a rainbow of colours is reflected from the skin. “We found that both high fitness and low body fat were associated with a higher skin yellowness. “This yellower skin of fit individuals was not due to a better diet or from a suntan from being outdoors more.” The research team also assessed whether a change in health changed skin appearance. They followed 59 students from sports clubs to measure the impact of their training on their skin, and found those who became fitter or lost body fat showed an increase in skin yellowness. Meanwhile, increased psychological stress and lack of sleep was associated with a reduction in skin yellowness. Researchers also used face images to examine how people perceived the impact of a healthier lifestyle on appearance. Prof Perrett said: “For 21 observers we found the change in colour with increased fitness was visible and was judged as looking healthier on 90% of trials. “This means that as people get healthier others should be able to notice the improvement in skin color. He added that skin color changes were apparent within eight weeks of leading a healthier lifestyle. The study is published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

Bottom line..  Eat your veggies; preferably fresh veggies; not canned…whenever possible.

Mediterranean diet linked to healthier aging brain

Following a Mediterranean diet rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, fish and healthy fats may preserve a more youthful brain in old age, a U.S. study suggests. Previous research has connected a Mediterranean diet to a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other degenerative brain conditions, noted lead study author Yian Gu of Columbia University in New York. For the current study, researchers focused on elderly people with normal cognitive function to see if the diet might also be tied to losing fewer brain cells due to aging, Gu said by email. “Among cognitively healthy older adults, we were able to detect an association between higher adherence to a Mediterranean type diet and better brain measures,” Yu said. To understand the relationship between the diet and brain health, Yu and colleagues reviewed surveys that 674 elderly people completed about their eating habits and then examined magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of their brains. Compared to the people who didn’t regularly follow many aspects of the Mediterranean diet, the participants who adhered to this way of eating more often had larger total brain volume, as well as more gray and white matter. Higher fish intake and lower meat consumption, one aspect of a Mediterranean diet, was tied to larger total gray matter volume on the brain scans. Eating less meat was also independently associated with larger total brain volume. Overall, the difference in brain volume between the people who followed a Mediterranean diet and those who didn’t was similar to the effect of five years of aging, the researchers conclude in the journal Neurology. One limitation of the study is that it can’t show whether the diet actually causes less brain atrophy over time, the authors acknowledge. For instance, it’s also possible that the effect might operate in the opposite direction, with differences in brain structure resulting in behavioral differences that include dietary habits.

Interesting… Sounds like a LOT of holes can be punched in this study. That said, I’m sure there are some basic truths here.. The key is balance. Having red meat ALL the time probably isn’t wise. But, grilling a couple steaks on a Sunday late afternoon and having a salad with it, like I did yesterday, is pefectly fine.. 🙂