Wednesday, December 21, 2011

How Holiday Overeating Can Damage Your Skin

This time of year gives us so much to remember: family memories, decked-out décor, and eggnog-induced hilarity. But when it comes to those heavy, fatty, and sugary meals, it’s not just our brains that remember...our skin does, too.

When we flood our cells with excess sugar, metabolic byproducts called advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs) can form. An AGE called glucosepane is believed to contribute to toughened, hardened collagen, which causes skin to be less flexible and supple as we age.

The best protection against excess glucosepane is to regularly consume small amounts of foods with a low glycemic index, like whole grains, leafy greens, and other fiber-rich fruits and vegetables. However, when Grandma is hovering over you, begging you to take seconds (or thirds) of her famous cornbread, it’s hard to say no. Here are a few ways to minimize the damage.

1. Slow-Cook Your Meals
Slow-cooked meals are prepared at lower temperatures than those from a stove or microwave.  Lower temps result in less sugar released, so your body doesn’t produce as many AGEs during digestion.

What’s more, in a 2006 study by the American Botanical Council, vegetables were found to retain 80% of their raw antioxidant capacity when steamed, but just 30% when boiled, on average. So less cooking = more antioxidant protection and fewer AGEs—and a younger-looking you!

2. Avoid Sugary Glazes
Corn or maple syrup glazes contain high levels of sugar, which in turn increases blood sugar levels. Logically, the more blood sugar you have, the more sugar molecules you have forming AGEs.

3. Avoid White Bread and Pasta
According to an article by the Harvard School of Public Health, foods with a high glycemic index (like white bread) cause rapid spikes in blood sugar, while foods with a low glycemic index (like whole oats) are digested more slowly, causing a lower and gentler change in blood sugar.

4. Increase Antioxidant Levels with Colorful Veggies
Antioxidants combat free radical formation and even help to correct some already-produced damage to the skin. In the previously mentioned 2006 study, the oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) scores of twenty-seven vegetables were compared, and artichokes, beetroot, cabbage, broccoli, red chicory, red chili, and yellow pepper had the highest scores, thus the highest antioxidant potential.

5. Pile on the Herbs and Spices
Out of fifteen featured herbs and six spices tested, garden sage, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, cumin, lemon balm, and fresh ginger were found to have the highest ORAC scores. What’s more, salad dressings containing as little as 1.5 percent lemon balm or marjoram were found to increase antioxidant capacity by 150 percent and 200 percent, respectively. What a way to make a super-healthy dish even more beneficial!

6. Drink Green Tea
Green tea has been found to provide many beneficial effects for the skin, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic, and photoprotective properties. Although a study in the Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics green tea’s real anti-AGE superpower is in the heart, drinking green tea has still been proven in numerous independent scientific studies to be highly beneficial for your skin.

7. Drink Red Wine—But Just a Little
There is proof that red wine, grapes, plums, peanuts, and other plant products containing resveratrol may promote the activity of sirtuins, agents that are currently suspected to prolong the life of collagen-producing cells. However, the amount of resveratrol necessary to provide anti-aging effects hasn’t been pinpointed, and too much alcohol causes inflammation and dilates capillaries, so stick to one glass per day.

Give the gift of good health
ab workout machines