Dr. Nicholas Perricone is a dermatologist and author of three New York Times bestsellers: The Wrinkle Cure, The Perricone Prescription, and The Perricone Promise, among others. His new book, Forever Young, provides practical advice on how diet and exercise can fight the sands of time.
1. Limit pro-inflammatory foods (sugar and starches)
Foods can be pro-inflammatory or anti-inflammatory. Pro-inflammatory foods promote wrinkles, disease, accelerate aging and cause the storage of body fat. Pro-inflammatory, sugary, starchy foods cause a loss of radiance, dark circles under the eyes, loss of tone, increased lines and wrinkles, loss of facial contours, increased puffiness and pore size. These foods also worsen acne, which is a systemic, inflammatory disease. Sugars and starches rob your youth, health, and beauty.
2. Avoid excessive exposure to the sun.
We need to get some sun to absorb vitamin D and keep our bones strong and healthy, but baking in the sun will cause:
- Loss of elasticity
- Thinner, translucent-looking skin
- Dry, rough, leathery skin
- Broken capillaries
- Liver spots
- Spots or blemishes
- Skin cancer
3. Learn to deal with stress
Stress is a highly destructive, pro-inflammatory and pro-aging force. Stress causes hormonal changes, altering cellular function in vital organs, including skin.
4. Don’t smoke and avoid exposure to second hand smoke
Cigarette smoke is highly damaging and aging to skin. When we inhale just one puff, over a trillion free radicals are produced in our lungs. Cigarette smoking depletes skin of oxygen and vital nutrients. Tobacco also reduces blood flow to an area, and temporarily raises blood pressure. Reduced blood flow to the skin results in a gray, pallid, lifeless and unhealthy-looking complexion. Smoking also causes dry, leathery looking skin, premature deep lines, wrinkles and loss of radiance.
5. Watch your alcohol intake
People think that alcohol is bad because it dehydrates the body and they assume that increasing water intake will counteract this. Unfortunately, alcohol creates inflammation throughout the body including the skin, resulting in effects that far outlast dehydration. The alcohol-induced dehydration also makes the skin more prone to fine lines and wrinkles. Dullness, enlarged pores, discoloration, sagging and lack of resilience are some of the short and longer term effects. Because alcohol alters blood flow to the skin, it will create an unhealthy appearance that lasts for days. An occasional glass of red wine can confer some health benefits. But moderation is key. Too much alcohol is highly destructive.
6. Sleep is essential
A good night’s sleep will ensure that you awake refreshed, looking radiant and youthful. Adequate sleep is vital to avoid eye area puffiness and maintain vibrant skin. Sleep rebuilds energy reserves and regenerates the body as our cells undergo repair. Inadequate sleep leads to unwanted weight gain and a craving for fat-laden, carbohydrate-heavy foods. People who exercise enjoy improved sleep quality. They fall asleep more quickly, sleep more deeply, awaken less often, and sleep longer.
7. Exercise keeps you young
Mountains of studies prove that exercise takes off pounds, reduces heart disease, lowers blood pressure, improves mood, solves sleep problems, and cuts risks of certain cancers. Exercise ensures beautiful skin and benefits the skin in much the same way that it improves bone and muscle quality. With exercise, the skin is thicker which means there is more, healthier collagen that gives the skin its strength and flexibility. Exercise increases circulation and gives the skin a healthy and radiant glow.
8. Be gentle with your skin
Avoid harsh cleansers and exfoliators. Use a gentle, antioxidant-based cleanser applied gently with a natural sea sponge and rinse thoroughly with warm water.
9. Don’t go fat-free
Increase your intake of the omega 3 family of healthy fats, including salmon, sardines, anchovies, sablefish, halibut and take high quality fish oil capsules for supple, smooth skin from the inside out.
10. Eat protein
We need adequate protein (lack of protein accelerates aging) so that the cells can repair themselves. Protein is the building block of life, and without adequate protein, our bodies enter into an accelerated aging mode. Our muscles, organs, bones, cartilage, skin, and the antibodies that protect us from disease are all made of protein. If our cells do not have complete availability of all the essential amino acids, cellular repair will not only be incomplete, it will be much slower than it should be.