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Healthy Eating for Your Skin This Fourth of July

Young couple making a healthy meal in the kitchen

It’s Independence Day and you’ve got a barbecue to go to. You’re supposed to be deciding what to wear, but instead you’re deciding on how you can politely decline all that greasy food. The Fourth of July can be a great time for hanging out and having fun, but you need to make sure you keep the health of your skin in mind while you’re chowing down. Here are some ways to do just that.

What Not To Eat

It seems that making the right choices may be just as important as avoiding the wrong ones. Here are some foods you may want to steer clear of this Fourth.

Chips

You’ll probably want to steer clear of the chips table this time around. Chips are full of refined carbs that trigger collagen damage and oxidative stress. On top of that, a 2014 study in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology found refined carbs to be the leading cause of adult acne.

Juice and Soda

These beverages are sugar waiting to be consumed, but it’s actually the lack of fiber that makes them really bad for your skin. Fiber is crucial for preventing the blood sugar highs and lows that can cause premature aging.

What To Eat

Take heart, a lot of traditional barbecue fair is really good for your skin.

Bell Peppers

If you’re making shish kebabs, there’s a good chance you’ll have access to some bell peppers. A study in the British Journal of Nutrition found that people who ate yellow and green veggies had fewer wrinkles than those who did not.

Grass Fed Beef

If the beef they’re grilling up at your barbecue is grass fed, you’re in luck. Grass fed beef has a higher ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids, which is great for reducing inflammation, and also has 30 grams of protein per serving. Skin expert Jessica Wu, MD, says, “Protein is the building block of collagen and elastin tissue which keeps skin taut and less wrinkled.” However, she recommends lean cuts like flank steak and sirloin tip.

Tomatoes

Another great shish kebab addition, tomatoes are rich in the antioxidant lycopene ( higher in cooked tomatoes, lucky you) which improves the natural SPF of akin. Studies show that participants who consumed 5 tablespoons of tomato paste with a tablespoon of olive oil daily had more sunburn protection than the group the just ate the olive oil.

Soy

If there’s a soy burger at the party, be sure to grab one. A study of middle-aged women in Japan showed that those who ate 40 mg of aglycone (an isoflaven in soy) had fewer wrinkles and stronger skin elasticity than those who took a placebo. By the way, isoflavens prevent collagen breakdown. You’ll find about 40 mg of isoflavens in an ounce of roasted soybeans, 3 ounces of tempeh, or 6 ounces of tofu, so load up your plate.

Olive Oil

If it’s olive oil on the grill, your skin can rejoice. A study in PLOS ONE found that people who consumed a higher level of olive oil showed 31% fewer signs of aging than than those with a lower consumption. That’s because about 75% of the fat in olive oil is in youth-boosting monosaturated fatty acids and the antioxidants in olive oil can protect skin from free radical damage.

Got it? Sounds totally doable, no? Let us know how your Fourth of July went down, and how your skin survived it.

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Curb Your White Sugar Cravings

Friends enjoying cupcakes at a cafe

Stevia, sucralose, acesulfame potassium, saccharin, advantame, aspartame, neotame, sorbitol and xylitol—these are all sugar substitutes approved for use by government. If the sheer number is not enough to confuse you, the spelling and pronunciation surely will. And, to add to the confusion, not all sugar substitutes are created equal. Here’s the lowdown on healthy (and not so healthy) alternatives to the white stuff.

Natural Sugars

Stevia

Imported from Latin America, Stevia has only recently become popular in the US. With a taste 30 times sweeter then sugar, Julie Daniluk, RHN, says, “It’s calorie-free and it is the safest sugar substitute because all the others are chemicals that can have serious side effects. As for the taste, when refined into a white substance, Stevia loses its hints of licorice and most of its aftertaste, the rest of which can be completely eliminated with lemon. Not great for coffee, which won’t do much to hide the flavor, better in tea.”

Honey

Honey is a natural sweetener and natural healant. Daniluk says, “When unrefined and unpasteurized, it contains B vitamins, minerals like manganese and iron.” She adds, “The coolest part it is it contains antibiotic properties.”

This means that honey is high in peroxide which can kill any microbe in its orbit. However, cooking the honey will remove the peroxide as well as said antibiotic properties.

Rachel Begun, MS, RD, says that honey “is also considered to better promote blood sugar control.” Nutritionally, honey contains approximately 32 calories per teaspoon, but since it is 20% sweeter than sugar, you’ll end up using less

Agave

Not so good for us, not so good for bats. Although it may be a great alternative to sugar in terms of taste, it seems like this cactus extract from Mexico is a substance that bats need to survive, which means our harvesting it is harmful to bat populations. Agave can also be harmful to the liver when eaten in large amounts. In addition, there is reason to believe cheap agave is cut with corn syrup, so health-conscious consumers should look for organic, sustainable brands. As for calories, it weighs in at about the same as honey, containing 30 calories per teaspoon.

Artifical Substitutes

Aspartame

Aspartame is a chemically-created, low-calorie alternative to sugar, with 200 times its sweetness. It contains an enzyme which can cause problems for people who can’t metabolize it properly, some of whom report headaches. Aspartame is not recommended for baking because it loses its sweetness when exposed to high temperatures. You’re most likely to have seen it marketed as Equal or NutraSweet.

Sucralose

Sucralose is a sugar substitute 600 times sweeter than the original. It contains no calories and is a combination of sucrose with chlorine attached. The chlorine prevents the absorption of calories because the body is unable to break down chlorine. “Problem is,” Daniluk says, “it kills the bacteria in your bowels just like it kills the bacteria in your swimming pool.” In essence, sucralose may be great for your weight loss, but it’s no friend to your bowels. Splenda is the brand name for sucralose, which according to a study by the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, causes blood cancers in mice who ate it daily. The Center for Science in the Public Interest now warns consumers against it.

What are your top choices for sugar substitutes? Natural, artificial, or back to sugar?  Let us know what team you’re on.

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Clean Eating Equals Clear Skin

Smiling young woman eating healthy salad while texting on the phone

Lately, there have been a lot of new improbable food combinations out there that mix the savory with the sweet.  Donut burgers, chocolate coated potato chips, pretzels and ice cream; sometimes it can seem hard to resist.  However, in nutritionist lingo, savory and sweet translates into grease and sugar, and that can be a nightmare for your skin.  If you want to clear up your skin, you need to start by cleaning up your diet. Here are some tips for doing both:

Diet and Your Skin

According to Dr. Jessica Wu, dermatologist and author of “Feed Your Face,” What you put in your mouth is just as important as what you apply to your skin. She explains, “Foods get digested and broken down into vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that your body can use to build healthy skin. If you crash diet or eat highly processed foods, your skin won’t be as strong and supple as it could be. For example, if you don’t eat enough protein, you are depriving your skin of the amino acids that go into making collagen and elastic tissue.”

Avoiding Sugar

Nutrition expert Alex Caspero recommends a low glycemic diet for acne prone skin and tells his clients to reduce sugar as much as possible. He says, “I replace refined sugary foods with nutrient dense foods, like fruit, vegetables and healthy sources of Omega-3.”What should you avoid specifically?  Protein bars, according to Dr. Wu.

She considers them glorified candy bars warning that, “The sugar will quickly get into your bloodstream, making your insulin levels spike, which can aggravate acne, wrinkles, and rashes.”  The fix?  Dr. Wu suggests a handful of almonds and a piece of whole fruit eaten after a workout, saying, “You’ll be eating better for your skin and you’ll feel more satisfied.”

Dairy

So what’s the deal with dairy?  Although the link between dairy and acne has not been definitively proven, Caspero doesn’t recommend dairy, saying, “Just like sugar, I see great results when I remove dairy from the diet,” and adds that, “If people must have milk or yogurt, I recommend non-dairy alternatives, or goat’s milk.”

Healthy Skin Diet

So now that you know what you shouldn’t eat, let’s talk about what you should. Celebrity esthetician Joanna Vargas says that, “The best skin diet is one that involves eating vegetables of different colors for every meal and a green juice every day.” Her top pick? Avocados. Vargas advises throwing these green berries into your smoothie as a source of phytonutrients and healthy fats.Dr. Wu says that when it comes to picking vegetables, red, yellow, and green are the most skin friendly.

According to Wu, “Tomatoes are good for helping reduce sun damage,” adding that, “they’re high in the antioxidant lycopene, (which) is more easily absorbed when the tomatoes have been cooked.” She also advises clients to use the color of vegetables as an indicator of antioxidant levels. “In general,” she explains, “the redder the tomato, the more lycopene it has,” and similarly, when it comes to green and yellow veggies, “The darker and brighter the color, the more the nutrients.”

Spices

As for Caspero, he cites omega-3 rich foods, like sardines, flaxseed, and chia seeds, and foods with vitamins A, C, and E for luminous skin, however, he adds some revealing information.  “Most of us think of fruits and vegetables as antioxidant sources, but, surprisingly, herbs and spices pack the most punch.  Turmeric, a spice often found in Indian cuisine, is one of the best.”
So, what are you doing to clean up your diet and clear up your skin?  Let us know.  We love to hear from you.

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Your Diet Can Help You Look Younger

Healthy and fit woman holding a colourful smoothie outdoors

If you’re looking for protection from free radicals, here are some foods that can help you fight the signs of aging in a healthy manner.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Extra virgin olive oil can be counted among the healthiest fats in existence.  It combats aging by lowering blood pressure, preventing metabolic syndrome, reducing the risk of heart disease, and may even be effective in fighting cancer.

Olive oil can also help your skin look younger.  73% of olive oil is made up of mono saturated fat which increases skin firmness and elasticity, and studies suggest that its anti-inflammatory properties can protect against sun damage.

Green Tea

The high levels of antioxidants in green tea make it effective in protecting against free radicals. Green tea is high in polyphenols, antioxidants that can prevent insulin resistance, diabetes, inflammation and heart disease. They may also boost collagen levels in your skin, reducing, and even reversing, signs of aging.

Fatty Fish

Fatty fish contain long-chain omega -3 fats that help fight inflammation, heart disease and ulcerate colitis, among others. According to studies, they can also protect against sun damage and inflammation.

Salmon may be especially beneficial to youthful skin, because it contains a carotenoid antioxidant called astaxanthin, which gives it its pink cold.  Individuals in a study on sun-damaged skin showed significant improvements on skin elasticity and hydration after having been given a combination of astaxanthin and collagen for a 12-week period.

Dark Chocolate

This sinful treat has an antioxidant profile second to none. Research suggests dark chocolate can increase sensitivity to insulin, reduce blood pressure, and boost arterial elasticity and function.  The power behind chocolate comes from flavanols, which protect skin against sun damage, with the amount of flavanols being highest in dark chocolate. One study revealed that people who ate dark chocolate with high amounts of flavanol were able to double their time in the sun before burning, as opposed to people who ate lower flavanol chocolate. High flavanol cocoa also proved to yield better blood flow in individuals and lead to improvements in skin hydration, thickness, and smoothness. Choose the dark chocolate with a 70% cocoa solid content for best results.

Vegetables

Veggies contain antioxidants that can help lower the risk of cataracts, cancer, and heart disease. Vegetables rich in carotenoids, like beta carotene, can also protect against free radicals and radiation from the sun. The best beta-carotene sources are pumpkins, carrots, and sweet potatoes.

Vitamin C is another common component of vegetables important for the production of collagen. Results of one study showed that people given a dose of 180 mgs of vitamin C per day for 4 weeks showed a 37% increase in skin’s antioxidant activity. Veggies with the most vitamin C include bell peppers, leafy greens, tomatoes and broccoli.

What do you eat to keep you young? We’d love to know your secrets!

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Winter Foods That Help Your Skin

Halved and whole avocados on table

It seems apparent that whoever determined the traditional holiday menu was not too concerned with skin care. High salt and sugar content are no strangers to the winter table and no friends to your skin.  However, there is still plenty more winter to go, and plenty of winter foods to keep your skin glowing.

Olive Oil

How else do you think the Italian women combat the fierce winds from the Mediterranean? Olive oil is great for your skin all year long, and is essential when winter dryness sets in.  With loads of vitamin A and E in addition to natural fatty acids, olive oil is a key ingredient for skin hydration. For authentic Italian skincare, look for products that contain olive oil, or use extra virgin olive oil in foods and dressings.

Grapefruit

Citrus is great for everything in the cold weather, your skin included.  The Vitamin C in grapefruit protects skin from radical damage, while the lycopene keeps skin smooth. Grapefruit is also high in potassium to help prevent age spots and wrinkles caused by UV rays and amino acids, which will keep skin smooth and soft. Eat the wonder fruit for breakfast, or in fruit salad, or drink its juice on a regular basis.

Avocado

Avocado has vitamins A, C, and E as well as mono- saturated fats to help skin maintain moisture.  It also contains magnesium, potassium, and folic acid, which all contribute to the general health of your skin and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. And besides, what doesn’t taste better with avocado?

Carrots

Carrots are a great source of antioxidants like Vitamin A which keep skin vibrant, prevent pigmentation, and keep the skin tone even.  They also contain carotenoids, like lycopene and beta-carotene, which protect against UV rays, and potassium, which helps skin lock in moisture. Carrot juice can be great on its own or blended into a veggie smoothie, while raw carrots can add some crunch to almost any salad.

Broccoli

Although broccoli has seemed to have take a backseat to its more glamorous cruciferous cousins, its effects on the skin should not be underestimated. Packed with vitamins A and C, and natural estrogens, the vegetable stimulates collagen, strengthens the skin cell membrane and prevents UV damage. Broccoli also contains B vitamins to eliminate dry, flaky patches commonly associated with winter skin. Try it roasted or steamed for optimal nutritional benefits.

Almonds

A handful of almonds are a great energy boost that can do wonders for the skin.  The vitamin E in the nuts will protect skin from the sun and may also contain anti-aging properties to reduce fine lines and wrinkles.

Let us know what you’re eating to keep your skin beautiful this winter!  We love to hear from you!

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Reduced Sugar Intake and Skin Health

Young woman eating cotton candy outdoors

A lot of us expect to suffer from acne during adolescence. But often times, breakouts reappear as we get older. While hormones fluctuate throughout our lives, diet is also a big component in our complexion and sugar is targeted as a major culprit. But is sugar really to blame for our skin problems? Does it affect everybody’s skin? Find out what limiting your sugar intake can do for your skin.

So why exactly is sugar bad for our skin? Celebrity dermatologist Dr. Harold Lancer explains that it breaks down collagen, the substance that makes your skin look plump, youthful and lifted. He also goes on to say that “Sugar can weaken the immune system, and a suppressed immune system is bad at fighting off bacteria.” Bacteria will clog your pores, resulting in a breakout.

Sugar also sets off insulin production which triggers protein utilization malfunctions. Sugar acts as a kind of signal scramble, affecting the production of the proteins and amino acids that build up collagen and elasticity. “Sugars bind to the amino acid chains and they gunk up the work,” explains Lancer.

Another effect of the sugar is that it creates testosterone with makes pores larger and skin oilier. It will also harden blood vessels and dehydrate skin making skin look less perky and bouncy. In turn, your skin becomes sallow and you get unwanted dark circles. Dr. Shereene Idriss, a dermatologist at Wexler Dermatology follow up, adding, “You get mild swelling and breakouts.”

Even though processed sugars are targeted as the enemy, you should beware of natural sugars that are consumed. Lancer warns that you should pay attention to where food falls on the glycemic index. Foods that rank low on the glycemic index manage insulin production which will slow down glycation, or in layman’s terms, your body will burn energy instead of storing it as fat. Watermelon and cantaloupe are high on the index, while white kiwi, blueberries and blackberries are lower.

You should also be aware of wine. Idriss warns, “Drinking too much wine can affect you too. Alcohol dehydrates and causes capillaries to dilate so dark circles will show under the eyes more prominently.” You also should be careful when eating honey. Lancer rules that a quarter teaspoon daily should be the maximum.

Health and beauty writer Lauren Blum was suffering from adult acne. She noticed breakouts appearing whenever she ate sugary snacks. She suspected that reducing her sugar intake might be a solution for her. She went to see Dr. Carl Thornfeldt, respected dermatologist for his opinion. Thornfeldt told Blum that sugar can activate inflammation. It also binds to the collagen to make skin stiff. He advised against any processed sugar which could lead to long-term damage due to chronic inflammation. He suggested that Blum reduce her sugar intake by two-thirds. After a week, Blum found her skin looking renewed, with lesser breakouts. There was less overall redness and her skin looked brighter.

So, what’s your sugar story? Have you tried to reduce your sugar intake and, if so, how did it affect your skin?

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Top Habits of Those Who Age Well

Senior woman with white hair relaxing on a chair

They Get Beauty Sleep

The National Sleep Foundation advises that you get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night, and people who age well follow this advice. It isn’t called beauty sleep for nothing; during sleep your body releases a growth hormone that is responsible for restoring healthy collagen and elastin, both of which your body needs to maintain a youthful appearance. When you don’t give your body the rest that it needs, you put yourself at a higher risk for health problems such as diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease, and some recent research indicates that insomnia is linked to a more rapid decline in brain aging. Dr. Jeffrey Benabio, Physician Director of Healthcare Transformation at Kaiser Permanente Primary Care, encourages you to get more sleep saying, “[t]oo many of us treat sleep as a luxury instead of a need. If I could encourage people to make one healthy change this year, it would be to sleep more.”

They Watch What They Eat

Diet plays a critical role in your overall health throughout your entire life, but as you age you need to be more careful in selecting what foods you eat. “The latest research shows that a low-glycemic diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein is best,” advises Benabio. Harvard Medical School recommends the Mediterranean Diet for those who want to age well. This diet consists of eating fish twice a week, significantly reducing sodium levels and focusing on fresh produce and healthy fats. Plant-based foods are an important part of the Mediterranean Diet as are whole grains, nuts, olive oil and red wine. Eating a diet that resembles the Mediterranean Diet also benefits your skin by providing omega-3 fatty acids which help to protect your skin maintain its youth.

They Stay Active and Social

You know that exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, but if you want to age well, exercise is crucial. Muscle loss accelerates as you age and the average woman loses just under 25 percent of her muscle mass between the ages of 30 and 70. People who age well combat muscle loss by increasing their resistance training workouts. Maintaining a healthy social life can is also a factor in aging well – studies indicate that those with strong social ties have up to a 50 percent chance of living longer than those who have poor relationships or are isolated.

Living a long, healthy and full life is a goal many of us have, and by following the top three habits of those who age well, it is within our reach. Staying aware of what and how much you eat, continuing to work out and go out and being sure to get plenty of rest so your body can recharge are things you can start doing today to ensure that you age well and with great health.

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Nuts for Beautiful Skin

Unknown woman picking out nuts from her hand

Did you know that nuts aren’t just good for your health, but also good for your skin? Turns out that a number of our “nutty” friends can work wonders in making the skin look better and healthier. To find out which of the “nutty” friends you should pay closer attention to, check out this Vine Vera Nuts for Beautiful Skin Infographic.

Infographic on nuts and their effects on the skin

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Top 5 Fruits for Radiant Skin

Unknown woman slicing up an orange for skincare purposes

There are a number of fruits that can go a long way in hydrating your skin, rejuvenating your looks and allowing you to de-stress. It is easy to get the nutrients and benefits you need from these fruits; just eat them! And they can easily help you recreate that perfect spa-like experience. So without further ado, Vine Vera would like to reveal the top 5 fruits for radiant skin.

Infographic on the top 5 fruits for radiant skin

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All About Antioxidants

Unknown woman with a halved pomegranate

Antioxidants are compounds that are usually associated with saving your skin from the damage caused by the free radicals present in the environment. Antioxidants are very important for your skin health, it is very important to know how antioxidants benefit the skin because most of your skin care problems can be solved by adding the right antioxidants into your diets and your skin care routines. The secret to success lies in determining which antioxidants are beneficial for your skin and how should you add them into your regular routines. Check out Vine Vera‘s infographic to learn more!

Infographic on antioxidants for the skin