Sample text for 101 optimal life foods / David Grotto ; foreword by Montel Williams.

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Thirty Challenges to an Optimal Life

Part 1

The Skin You're In

Aging and Damaged Skin

That Youthful Appearance

Did you know . . . the effects of aging on the skin can be visibly apparent as early as the twenties?

Optimal Food/Nutrient Highlights

Vitamin A-, E- and C- rich foods, chocolate, apples, beans, tea, olive oil, vegetables, dried plums.

What Is Aging and Damaged Skin?

The skin is the body's first line of defense against environmental damage and foreign invaders such as harmful bacteria. Yet for all the protection the skin's three layers provide, if the skin isn't well cared for, the wear and tear of a well-lived life can leave one looking ravaged--not ravaging. Collagen and elastin form in the skin's middle layer, called the dermis. These two proteins give the skin firmness and the ability to stretch and bounce back into shape. The signs of aging become noticeable as collagen and elastin diminish and change over time.

Though skin cells constantly regenerate, the combination of genetics, environmental stressors, lifestyle, and the quality of our nutrition ultimately affects the rate at which our skin ages. The aging process begins around our mid-twenties, as collagen production slows and the elastin begins to lose its "spring." The rate of skin aging varies from individual to individual. As you and your skin age, you may begin to notice fine wrinkles; thin and transparent skin; loss of fat underneath the skin, which gives a "hollowed cheek and eye socket" appearance; sagging skin; or dry, itchy skin.

What Causes Premature Aging of the Skin?

Enemy #1: Sun exposure. Most premature aging of the skin is attributed to extrinsic or external factors over which we may have some influence. Repeated ultraviolet (UV) exposure breaks down collagen, impairs the synthesis of new collagen, and breaks down elastin. Not only do these processes cause the skin to become loose, wrinkled, and leathery, but UV exposure is associated with skin conditions like age spots, spider veins, and skin cancer.

Sun exposure is the biggest concern, yet there are other, unavoidable natural factors that can speed up wrinkling of the skin:

Repetitive facial expressions. What was once thought to help sagging facial muscles may actually lead to fine lines and wrinkles. As the skin ages, it loses its elasticity, and the "smile lines" that once disappeared when the smile went away can now show up as fine lines and wrinkles on the face. This is no excuse not to smile, because experts agree that nothing looks worse than a sad, boo-hoo face!

Sleeping position. Wrinkles can develop from sleeping on your side with your face on the pillow. Change your sleeping position if you can.

Gravity literally drags skin down over a lifetime.

Lifestyle. The choices that we make in our daily lives contribute to prematurely aging skin. The top three culprits are smoking, poor sleep habits, and poor or improper diet.

Smoking. Like overexposure to the sun, smoking can cause the skin to age rapidly. Several studies compared people who smoke ten or more cigarettes daily for at least ten years with nonsmokers. The results showed that the ten-a-day smokers' skin tended to be more deeply wrinkled and leathery.

Poor sleep habits. Insufficient or poor-quality sleep is most noticeable on the face with dark circles and baggy eyes. In most cases, this appearance can be lessened by improving your sleep habits.

Poor or improper diet. The skin requires adequate nutrition and hydration to keep it healthy in appearance and function. Optimal Life Foods

Vitamins A, E, and C help the skin heal and repair itself and also help protect it from the ravages of ultraviolet light. Vitamin C is also essential for collagen production, which keeps skin firm. Vitamin A-rich foods include eggs, milk, carrots, apricots, nectarines, sweet potatoes, and spinach.

Vitamin E-rich foods include almonds, sunflower seeds, avocados, olives, wheat germ, canola oil, and peanuts.

Vitamin C-rich foods include many common fruits like oranges, grapefruit, lemons, limes, kiwis, and cantaloupe; other semitropical and tropical fruits such as pomegranates, papaya, mangoes, guavas, and passion fruit; berries (strawberries, blackberries, elderberries); and vegetables like green and red peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, potatoes, romaine lettuce, onions, cauliflower, kale, artichokes, fennel, cabbage, and chard. Researchers in the United Kingdom looked at vitamin C intake in 4,025 women and found that those who ate more vitamin C-rich foods had less wrinkling and dryness.

Chocolate may give skin a healthier appearance. Cocoa butter applied to the skin can help diminish stretch marks. According to one intriguing study, women who drank high-flavanol cocoa beverages had decreased roughness and scaling of the skin.

Apples, beans, tea, olive oil, vegetables, and dried plums. A study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition described promising findings for people who live in high-sun-exposure areas. Elderly men and women (of various ethnicities) had less skin wrinkling with a higher intake of vegetables, olive oil, legumes, apples, tea, and dried plums.

Optimal Life Supplements

A multivitamin with adequate levels of vitamins A, C, and E is worth adding to your daily diet, especially if you don't get enough of these nutrients from the food you eat and spend a lot of time in the sun. And using a topical vitamin C cream may help protect skin cells from free radical damage associated with the effects of aging.

Feeding the Fire!

Saturated fat in butter and in other fatty animal products and trans fats found in margarines have been associated with increased wrinkling in the elderly.

Beautiful Skin Menu Plan

Day 1

Breakfast (425)

1 cup flaxseed cereal flakes (190)

1 cup skim milk (90)

1 kiwi (60)

1?2 cup orange juice (60)

1 cup green tea

1 teaspoon honey (25)

Lunch (430)

1 serving Roasted Vegetable and Sweet Swiss Panini (250) (page 333)

6 whole grain crackers (130)

1 cup strawberries (50)

11?2 cups water with lemon

Midday Snack (220)

1 serving Chilean Fruit Guacamole (100) (page 259)

12 fat-free corn chips (120)

11?2 cups sparkling water with lime

Dinner (700)

4 ounces rotisserie chicken (220)

1 cup steamed Brussels sprouts (60)

1 serving Polenta Pizza (180) (page 329)

2 cups spinach salad with assorted veggies and citrus dressing (120)

5 ounces red wine (optional) (120)

Evening Snack (240)

1 cup carrot sticks (50)

2 tablespoons hummus (60)

1 serving Apple-Soy Chai Latte (130) (page 254)

Day 2

Breakfast (350)

1 serving Souffle Omelet with Balsamic Strawberries (160) (page 345)

4 to 5 dried plums (100)

1 cup skim milk (90)

Lunch (440)

1 serving Blackberry Smoothie (320) (page 257)

1 serving Avocado-Fennel Citrus Salad (120) (page 285)

Midday Snack (290)

1 serving Rosemary Nuts (290) (page 269)

1 cup green tea

Dinner (688)

1 serving Cocoa-Encrusted Salmon with Blueberries (270) (page 330)

2 servings Roasted Autumn Vegetables in Sherry Sauce (228) (page 360)

1 whole grain roll (100)

1 cup skim milk (90)

Evening Snack (240)

1 serving Beanie-Greenie Brownies (110) (page 309)

1 serving Apple-Soy Chai Latte (130) (pag 254)

Day 3

Breakfast (453)

1 serving Triple-Grain Georgia Pecan Pancakes (188) (page 346)

1?2 cup hash browns (120)

1?2 cup diced mango (55)

1 cup skim milk (90)

Lunch (440)

1 serving Tropical Fruit and Shrimp Gazpacho (80) (page 279)

1 serving Raw Kale Salad with Lemon-Honey Vinaigrette (260) (page 296)

1 whole grain roll (100)

11?2 cups water with lemon

Midday Snack (130)

1 serving Strawberry-Papaya Smoothie (130) (page 255) Dinner (546)

1 serving Chicken Thighs with Red Wine, Dried Plums, and Garlic (310) (page 323)

1 serving Sicilian Broccoli Salad (200) (page 290)

1 serving Watermelon Soda (36) (page 253)

Evening Snack (480)

1 serving Summer Fruits Pie (390) (page 315)

1 cup skim milk (90)

Dr. Gary Jay Barsky's Tips for Healthy Skin!

Gary Jay Barsky, MD, is a Harvard-trained physician and board-certified dermatologist who practices in the Chicago metropolitan area. He is also certified through the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery and the American Board of Laser Surgery. Visit

Great nutrition is one essential part of the healthy-skin equation. Try to incorporate as many of these great suggestions into your daily activities as you can:

1.Don't smoke!

2.Avoid overexposure to the sun and avoid tanning beds. Use artificial tanning creams instead.

3.Stop facial exercises.

4.Wear protective clothing including wide-brimmed hats and long sleeves if you are outdoors for long periods during the day.

5.Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen that offers UVA and UVB protection with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. Use a sunscreen with zinc and titanium.

6.Regular exercise promotes good blood flow and greater delivery of oxygen to the skin.

7.Use topical vitamin C creams to help reduce free radicals and fine lines and improve the skin's appearance.

8.Many people are zinc deficient, but don't know it. Topical ointments with zinc oxide help protect the skin.

9.Soy milk has natural estrogens in the right amounts and promotes healing. Estrogen helps keep the face firm.

Library of Congress subject headings for this publication:
Natural foods.
Diet therapy.