Eat to Reduce Wrinkles


Is your medicine cabinet filled with a vast array of lotions and potions all claiming to erase your wrinkles? Have you have spent too much of your life in stores like Sephora or Ulta in a desperate search for the next hot beauty cream to help turn back the hands of time? Have you even considered a few Botox shots to smooth out those smile or laugh lines?

Well, in case you’re wondering about less expensive or invasive strategies to smooth your wrinkles and improve skin elasticity–the best place to start is from the inside.

Certain foods prevent and even reduce wrinkling while other dietary components promote wrinkles and aging.

We’ve all heard about hydration.  Adequate fluids help prevent skin cells from drying out, which makes us look older than we are.  Think of raisins: like skin cells, they look best hydrated.

While the inside of skin cells benefit from water, the surface (cell walls) need fat.  Cell walls are made of fat, a significant amount of it saturated, which gives cells structure, integrity and protection from sun damage.

Have you ever taken a close look at the skin of traditional women of the Pacific islands?   Despite their sun-drenched outdoor lifestyle, this population enjoys youthful-looking skin into old age.  Research points to diet, including saturated fats, fish oils and antioxidant-rich plant foods as keys to wrinkle resistance.

In a Japanese study of over 700 women, those who consumed the most saturated fat developed significantly less wrinkles.  Monounsaturates also helped.  Both types of fats (but especially saturated) correlated not only with less wrinkling but better skin elasticity.

Do we need to sacrifice our hearts for our skin?  No!  It turns out saturated fats are not harmful.  A recent 21-study analysis of saturated fats found no correlation with heart disease.  Despite research vindicating saturated fats, a bad reputation is difficult to restore.  Traditional fats have been nourishing populations for thousands of years.

Skin-protecting fats are found in coconut and palm oils, butter, beef and pork.  Monounsaturated fats come from olive oil, macadamia nuts or oil and duck fat.  The fats to be avoided are vegetable oils, especially hydrogenated.

UV light is so damaging because it triggers free radicals, damaging molecules that oxidize (or age) the fat in our skin cells. Dermatologists warn us to done hats and slather on sunscreen to shield us from sun, but protection from the inside is likely more effective.

Studies also show omega 3 fats plus fruits and vegetables are effective in protection from UV light. Omega 3’s are found in cold-water fish, pastured eggs and beef, walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds and leafy greens.

Antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables along with vitamin E from nuts and seeds further protect our skin against oxidation. Vitamin-C strengthens collagen, which gives our skin strength, elasticity and resistance to wrinkles.  Citrus, kiwi, berries, peppers and greens are especially rich in vitamin C, plus other antioxidants.

Green tea contains an age-fighting chemical called ECGC (epigallocatechin gallate), which causes aging surface skin cells to regenerate like younger cells.  ECGC also quenches damage induced by UV light and slows collagen breakdown.

On the other hand, sugar (especially pastries and soft drinks), milk, vegetable oils and alcohol speed up skin damage and wrinkles.

The benefits to a diet rich in traditional fats, olive oil, fish, fruits, vegetables, green tea and water include slower aging throughout your body, with your skin being the most visible sign.

How to curb sugar cravingsLinda L. Prout, MS, is a nutritionist, speaker, and author of Live in the Balance, The Ground-Breaking East-West Nutrition Program. She has been a nutrition consultant for more than 25 years including at the Claremont Resort and Spa in Berkeley, CA and the Six Senses Spa in Turkey. Her East-West nutrition philosophy influences her nutrition plans and presentations for individuals and organizations around the world via email and Skype.