The Big Red Beauty Food

The NHANES study  found that women who had diets high in vitamin C  had  fewer lines and wrinkles.  Good to know, but  what  does that mean  in terms of real food?   I started to look into vitamin C rich foods, and discovered that tomatoes  offered a great nutritional package.  In the US, over half of our daily vitamin C intake is from tomatoes.  In addition to being essential for the formation of wrinkle- busting  collagen, vitamin C is also a  uber anti-oxidant that  protects against aging free radicals.  And the benefits don’t stop there. From the  tiny cherry tomatoes to the giant beefsteak, tomatoes are packed with potassium, beta carotene and disease protecting lutein and lycopene.  Even the skin of a tomato is  super rich in quercetin, a much studied anti-aging anti-oxidant.   And what’s really awsome, every form of  a tomato  is rich in nutrients.   Raw tomatoes  are rich in vitamin c and  beta carotene.  Tomato soups and sauces are bursting  with even  higher levels in lycopene and lutein. 

I have focused on the beauty benefits of foods, but I can’t ignore the  health benefits of tomatoes.  They are a  major component of the Mediterranean diet and many experts  believe that tomaotes play an important role in the studies  which show the Med diet  lowers risk of heart disease  and cancer.  Other well designed studies have shown that tomatoes reduce risk of prostate and pancreatic cancers.   And one final fact–  combining  tomaotes with a little olive oil  helps the body better absorb its nutrients.  I can almost   make the case for pizza as a health food.  Almost.

A Beauty Bonus for my Neck

Here is a pix of my neck ten days after removing the various bumps and splotches.  The scabs are gone and  the redness is slowly fading. To avoid awkward stares  questions,  I am still wearing scarves and chuncky necklaces to cover them up.  I found that powder mineral foundation does hide them,  but then rubs off and stains  my tees and blouses, soI’m sticking to camouflage rather than make-up.  Now that I’ve worked so hard to  polish up   my neck and chest  I want to protect it from new problems.  I had three types of spots:

Brown spots:   These are a combination of age and sunlight.  The former I can’t so anything about– the latter just needs a daily sunscreen.  Done.

Skin tags: These are also linked to age and to high blood sugar levels. Not surprising, since I have type II Diabetes. As a matter of fact, it was Park Avenue dermatologist Dr Lefkovits who saw them  15 years ago and told me  to get tested for diabetes.  If I keep my blood sugar under control,  they do  not reappear.

Red spots:  These are called cherry angiomas and result when a small group of tiny blood vessels clump together.  They are a genetic thing and there is nothing I can do to prevent them.  However  they can develop  little extensions which are known as spider angiomas.  Both sunlight and alcohol can provoke these to appear.  I’m a two glasses of wine a week kind of drinker, so that’s not a problem.  Remembering to apply aunscreen to  my neck and chest is  my  new summer routinue.

And I’ve noticed an extra bonus to  this round of freckle removal.  In the area where  I had laser treatment,  the neck skin  looks smoother and less bumpy.  This ability to  tighten skin is one of lasers best benefits and spot tightening is actually the principle behind the Fraxel Laser. Rather than  totally burning off the top layer with the ultimate C02 Laser, Fraxel  works on a grid to treat tiny areas. but leave adjacent skin untouched.  The result?  A  more natural looking tightening.  I had not been that interested  to do Fraxel, but now  that I see how the principle works, its something I will explore it a bit, especially  for my neck.

I’m Hosting Fashion Flash Monday!

It’s Fashion Flash  Monday and we have an amazing new blogger in our group:

  Catherine of Obsessed with Shoes knows her footwear and this week  she spotlights  the trend to bright colors with  to-die-for  pumps from Charlotte Olympia. 

Black Cat Plus in celebration of Earth Day 2011 profiles several  well known designers including Diane Kennedy, Neon Buddha and Pure & Co who are using eco-friendly materials and manufacturing best practices in an effort to keep the environment a priority in producing eco-friendly plus size fashions. 

Menopause Makeover has amazing posture tips that can make you look pounds thinner and more confident!

Fab Over Forty  shows how to diminish age spots and sundamage at home  with PMD Microdermabrasion

Female Fat Loss Over Forty has expert Rick Kaselj offering  some  insights into how to relieve knee pain through proper exercise.

And  Fabulous After 40  describes how to look gorgeous in  cocktail attire when your middle aged feet  won’t let you wear high heels and your arms need a little cover-up.

And after you’ve clicked through the info-packed Fashion Flash, check out  The Small Change Diet ( Gallery Books), a book  from one of my favorite nutritionists, Teri Gans. Most diet guides offer fairly standard advice —  eat more  fruits and veggies,  avoid potato chips and  brownies while  providing  menus that feature  kale, quinoa and fat-free cheese slices.  All good advice, but in real time try to  find kale and quinoa  in your local diner and burger spot.  What makes Teri so different is that she explains how to  meet established nutritional goals despite over packed schedules and limited restaurant food choices.  For example, rather than just  saying  you have to  eat low fat chicken, she provides no less than 8  different ways  to cut  the fat levels of chicken  both at home and in restaurants.  And she does this with dozens of  different foods. Success or failure  of a diet often depends  on the small hidden calories that add up.  The Small Change Diet  identifies all those  small  areas  where  you can  improve your diet outcome.

Universal Beauty Questions: Adult Acne

I have been getting   quite a few questions about  acne past the teeneage years.  Its not really surprising  since  up to 50% of women over  25  have acne  problems.   And  while its not an anti-aging issue, the whole point of  getting rid of  age spots   and wrinkles is to look better– and getting rid of  breakouts certainly falls  under that category.

Question 1: I am 45.  Can I use my daughter’s acne soaps and gels to control  my breakouts?

Probably not.  During the teenage years bacteria in the pores  are a  major driver of breakouts.   In moms, not so much.   Benzoyl peroxide, an ingredient found in many acne  cleansers and treatments products, works by attacking these bacteria, and is a go-to ingredient in  many  acne products aimed at teenagers. When you’re  in the fabulous forties, bacteria play a  much smaller role and Benzoyl Peroxide  is much less effective.   For mom acne, a better choice would be products with salicylic  acid.  This is a beta  hydroxy acid  that acts by helping  empty clogged pores.  No clogged pores= no pimples.  Neutrogena  makes a full line of acne products with salicylic acid.  Make sure the  treatment  product  you use  has at least 2% salicylic acid  to get  a real benefit.

Question 2: What is hormonal acne?

In truth  hormone levels  can  promote acne at any age, but in some women,  higher levels of  androgen, a male hormone,  can be  causing hard to treat acne.  If you have tried all the usual remedies of benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid peels, LED light, diet and even Retin A and acne  still is  a problem, you  may well  have hormonal acne.  Best treatment is with  a series of birth control pills that contain both estrogen and progestin.  This combo works by  cutting down the androgen levels.  Two  well known brands  are Ortho Tri-Cyclen and Yaz.  I had this type of acne and had tried everything.  Finally my Dad who was a science writer  found a doctor  who specialized in this problem.  The hormone combo he prescribed  changed my life — and  I think that  using medical research  to deal with acne sparked   my interest in the science behind beauty care .

Neck and Chest Freckles, Day 1

No, I didn’t get attacked by a flock of vampire bats.  This is what my neck looked like the day after Dr Marmur  removed some freckles, skin tags and red spots.  As before, I had  applied a lidocaine cream to numb the area, but Dr M felt that I needed a  bit of injected lidocaine to be more comfortable. She used a laser on the freckles, cut off the skin tags and eliminated the red spots, called cherry angiomas, with electricalcauterization.  Thanks  to the lidocaine,  the whole procedure was painless.   She topped each spot with a dab of Aquaphor and a non-irritating strip to cover  them.

The treated spots look alot  worse  than they feel.  In fact, I had far less discomfort with this treatment than I had when I lasered off the freckles from  my hands.  It does look pretty gross so  I have been exploring neck  hiding techniques.  The first night I want to a birthday dinner with two BFF’s.  It was too warm for a scarf so I turned up the collar of a white shirt, pinned the collar closed and then wrapped  my neck with a triple strand of fake pearls. It hid my red spots, but it was hot and uncomfortable.  The next day it turned cold  and I think I am the only person in New York who is happy it  is scarf weather again.

Its Fashion Flash Monday!

This week the host of Fashion Flash Monday is Fabulous Over 40.   Recently,  the Glam Gals  have posted about  the vanishing waistline,  how to wear white and today’s post is an amazing analysis of Michelle Obama’s style. They note  her use of bright colors, little cardigans instead of  jackets and conservative styles in gorgeous fabrics.   Bottom line–Jojami and Deb make shopping  fun again. 

And if you’ve  never read Kris Carr, you’re in for a treat.  A  young beautiful actress, she went for a check-up and was diagnosed with untreatable liver cancer.  This news would crush most people, but Kris decided to make her journey for answers into the next stage of her life.   She video taped   her search for ways to deal  with illness– and turned her spiritual and  nutritional  journey into  Crazy Sexy Cancer, an award winning documentary and book.   Her  vibrant and positive take on the world makes  the book  worth reading  for people dealing with any serious health problem– either their own or when it affects someone  close to them.

Her new book, Crazy Sexy Diet describes  her dedicated vegan diet that is  super high in antioxidants and very low in foods that are considered  inflammatory.  She is especially   passionate and informative  in explaining the the acid/alkaline balance and how its affects  health.   I’m not sure I can follow  such a strict vegan meal plan, but I am always inspired by her humour, kindness and courage.  And FYI– seven years after  her frightening diagnosis and a program of diet, exercise and Yoga for stress reduction, her cancer   has not advanced– and she glows with health.

An Apple A Day Keeps Wrinkles Away

The NHANES study which looked at the links between nutrition and health  included a section that  reviewed  diet and skin aging.   One finding  showed  people whose diets were higher in fiber had fewer lines and wrinkles.  Nice to know, but the question is why?  One theory is that fiber helps control blood sugar levels.  Its those spikes in sugar that set off a series of events that ultimately damage collagen and impede growth of new strong healthy collagen.  And its collagen of course that is so important in keep the skin smooth and  freee of lines and wrinkles.

Current guidelines reccommend  20-30 grams of daily fiber from fruits, vegetables and whole grains.  ( And this figure is 2-3X  the 10 grams a day that  most Americans consume a day).  However,  many   high fiber grains are  also very high in carbohydrates–  which then triggers aging high blood sugars.  The good news is that  each serving of   fruits and vegetables  delivers 2-3 grams of  fiber.  And if you follow the 4-5 daily servings of fruits and veggies, plus 2-3 servings of whole grains and you’ve more than met  great nutritional requirements– without raising blood sugar.

Check out the chart to help you plan fiber healthy menus.  This chart gave me new respect for  apples.  It has a generous payload of fiber and is super high in vitamin C–  the vitamin most closely  linked to  smooth youthful skin.  A daily apple is a true beauty food.

Fiber Rich Foods

* 1 apple —————-3.2 grams

* 1 cup bran ————18grams

* 3/4 cup cantaloupe -1.4 grams

* 1 raw carrot———–3.7 grms

* 2 stalks celery———2.0 grams

3/4 cup corn kernals—4.2 grams

3/4 cup cabbage——–2.1 grams

1/2 cup lentils———–4.0 grams

1 pear———————2.8 grams

1/2 cup strawberries—2.6 grams

1 slice  wheat bread—- 2.2 grams

1 zucchini—————-3.o grams

Red Carpet Shoulders

Watching the celebs walk the red carpet during awards season, I began to focus on the flawless  chests and creamy  shoulders of the stars  in their strapless gowns.  Was I  the last woman in America with  age spots  on my upper body?

The short answer is  no.  This is an often overlooked spot until a dress or bathing suit suddenly reminds you that sun damage doesn’t stop at the chin. That’s the bad news.   The good news?   There a buffet of spots removers including skin bleaches, IPL, lasers, Fraxel, peels and  microdermabrasion. The question is  which one  is the best.   According to Dr Marmur, I have several  different types of discolorations that require  different types of treatments.  For example the true freckles can be easily treated with a YAG or Ruby laser– the same type that I used on the freckles ( aka age spots) on my face and hands.  The raised spots are actually skin tags that are best cut off or burned away with electrocauterization.  As you can see  from my before photo, the red spots are atually more numerous and I’ll find out what they are  and how they are treated when I  get them removed tomorrow.  Its a good thing its still scarf weather here, since I  know from past experience that I’ll have a bunch of red scabs  on my neck for at least a week.