LaVie Organique Skincare Blog

All posts in category "anti-aging nutrition"

5 Foods for Cultivating Healthier, More Beautiful Skin This Summer

There’s more to summertime skincare than sun block and moisturizer. To prevent and repair free radical damage and inflammation caused by ultraviolet radiation, we need to choose the foods we eat as carefully as our skincare products. Luckily, summer fruits and vegetable are packed with the antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and other plant chemicals we need to help minimize the development of wrinkles and reduce our chances of skin cancer.

Here are five of the best sources of these skin-saving nutrients:

The red pigment in these colorful peppers act as an internal sunscreen.

The red pigment in these colorful peppers act as an internal sunscreen.

 

Lycopene-loaded fruits and vegetables - The plant pigment that gives produce like tomatoes, watermelon, raspberries, and red peppers their inviting color, lycopene give us the advantage of an internal sunscreen. Results of a 2008 study showed that subjects who ate 5 tablespoons of tomato paste a day for 12 weeks enjoyed 30 percent more protection against sunburn than those who did not.

Eggplant - Thanks to its generous supply of phenolic acids, eggplant ranks in the top 10 of foods that counteract free radical damage.

Cantaloupe - The beta-carotene in this juicy, delicately flavored summer fruit not only neutralizes free, radicals, but may also help reduce sun sensitivity.

Cucumbers - In addition to protecting our skin with a variety of antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, cucumbers serve as a tasty, refreshing way to avoid the dehydrating effects of hot, sunny days. Their ample water content is complemented by a combination of minerals that help regulate fluid balance. These characteristics make cucumber juice substantially more hydrating than an equal volume of drinking water.

• Tart cherries - High in flavonoids, polyphenols, and vitamin C, tart cherries help protect against cancer, inflammation, and aging. Greatly prized in my native Romania, where they’re known as sour cherries, these tangy treats are a smart alternative to their sweeter cousins. In addition to containing a greater concentration of anti-inflammatories, tart cherries have a much less significant impact on blood sugar levels than sweet varieties like Bings. Their lively flavor can help retrain sugar-saturated palates to appreciate the zippy taste of a full range of healthful tart foods from pickled beets and cabbage to unsweetened yoghurt. Rich in melatonin, tart cherries also help our body get more of restorative beauty sleep that it needs for cell repair and regeneration.

Eating Sun-Smart Foods the Romanian Way

Served on their own or as part of rainbow-hued salads, these flavorful nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables appeal to our summertime appetite for light yet sensually satisfying foods. For a truly mouth-watering experience, arrange your selection artistically on a simple white plate and add an appropriate garnish. Try a sprig of mint on cantaloupe. Or sprinkle some fresh oregano or basil on sliced tomatoes for eye-catching contrast and a more intense and complex taste and aroma. The zesty Romanian salads outlined below are two of my favorite summertime recipes. The healthful oils they contain add a silky texture as well as an extra dose of sun protection. If you want to escape from the kitchen, roast the vegetables on an outdoor grill.

The olive oil in this mouth-watering summer salad adds extra does of anti-inflammatories and antioxidants.

The olive oil in this mouth-watering summer salad adds extra does of anti-inflammatories and antioxidants.

Roasted Peppers

2 peppers

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon vinegar

Salt to taste

Wash the peppers. Turn the burner on high, and place the peppers directly on the flame. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes turning on all sides. Once roasted (the skin turns black), place in a colander and place the colander on top of a large bowl. Let the peppers cool and the juices drain. Gently peel the skin off the peppers. Remove the stem and seeds. Cut each pepper in thin lengthwise slices. In a bowl mix together the olive oil, vinegar and salt and add to the peppers. Mix together. Serve immediately or later. This dish can be done a day ahead.

 

Eggplant Salad

4 small Italian eggplants

1 small onion thinly chopped

1/4 cup grape seed oil

Salt to taste

Instructions for gas stove or grill: Turn the burner on high and place the eggplant on the flame. Turn every couple of minutes until roasted. An Italian eggplant needs about 15 minutes to roast as it is thin, but thicker eggplant will need additional time. Place the roasted eggplants in a colander, and place the colander on top of a large bowl. Let the eggplants cool and the juices drain out of eggplants for a minute or two. Once cool, peel the skin off the eggplants. Place on a chopping board and give the eggplant a rough chop. Chop the onion finely.

Five Stimulating Tips for Radiant Skin and Glowing Health This Fall

November’s waning sun is nature’s invitation to rev up our blood circulation. Vigorous, unrestricted blood flow is one of the keys to not only staying comfortably warm as the temperatures drop, but also maintaining our health and beauty as we age. Here are five tips that are guaranteed to pep up your anti-aging regimen this fall.

Pick up the pace: When chilly autumn winds nip our ears, we’re naturally inclined to walk faster. Be mindful of that tendency and fully indulge it every chance you get. Whether you’re outdoors enjoying the vivid fall scenery or shopping inside the mall, maintain proper walking form. Stand tall with your chest high and your shoulders relaxed, push off your toes, and focus on making your steps as quick as possible. Avoid getting to the point where you become totally out of breath. Compared to strolling, fast walking stimulates greater blood flow, supplying your cells with more of the oxygen and nutrients they need to repair free radical damage. With a small adjustment to a simple routine activity, you can reap a host of outsized rewards from fewer wrinkles and a slimmer body to a reduced risk of heart disease and dementia.

Exercise increases blood flow to all the organs and tissues of our body, ensuring cells get plenty of oxygen and nutrients.

Exercise increases blood flow to all the organs and tissues of our body, ensuring cells get plenty of oxygen and nutrients.

Spice up your diet: Cook a big pot of red beans with chili powder, or add dried chili flakes, cayenne pepper, or Hungarian paprika to a steaming-hot stew of fall root vegetables. These spicy cool-weather meals raise the rate of blood flow to the skin while warming our stomachs and waking up tired taste buds. With their generous supply of vitamins A and C, hot peppers also contribute to the long-term health of our circulatory system by strengthening blood vessels.

Perk up your complexion the Eastern European way: Circulatory stimulation is the core skin repair mechanism employed in classic Eastern European anti-aging treatments. One the most powerful of these treatments, the organic peel, activates this mechanism with a dose of fiery Hungarian paprika. (To learn more about the benefits of fruit acid peels, read my post on Three Fall Skincare Fundamentals. A traditional European facial that incorporates facial massage will also help optimize blood flow to the deeper layers of the skin where new collagen and epidermal cells form.

Go heavy on the garlic: Garlic improves circulation by dilating blood vessels and hindering the formation of artery-clogging cholesterol plaques. The latest research suggests that we can help fend off the diseases of aging by adding two to five cloves of garlic a day to our diet. With simple yet intensely flavorful menu choices from spaghetti with garlic sautéed in olive oil to hummus and roasted garlic spread, people who enjoy Mediterranean-style foods will find it delightfully easy to stick to this health habit. Be sure to let garlic cloves sit for about 15 minutes after crushing or chopping to maximize the potency of the healthful compounds they contain. (Worried about garlic breath? Try chewing a few fennel seeds after a garlicky meal to help remove the pungent odor.)

Pump up your nitric oxide levels: Raising the levels of nitric oxide in our bloodstream stimulates circulation by expanding and relaxing blood vessel walls. A 2014 study by Italian scientists confirmed that we can achieve this effect by eating dark chocolate. This beneficial impact on blood flow is one of the reasons my book Timeless Woman recommends a small square of dark chocolate when your craving for a super-rich treat becomes irresistible. Chocolate with a cocoa content of 70 to 85 percent will give you the most bang for the least amount of sugar and calories. Or if you want to skip those dietary downsides entirely, you can take another page from my book of seasonal strategies.

Among my recommendations for a fall health and beauty routine is regular meditation sessions, a practice that, according to a cardiologist quoted in a recent NPR report, also boosts the body’s production of nitric oxide. So the next time you want to get your blood flowing without breaking a sweat, just sit down, close your eyes, and chill out. You don’t have to twist your legs into a pretzel, chant a mantra, or strain your back. Research shows that simply relaxing in a comfortable chair while listening to inspiring classical music produces the same positive effects on vascular health as traditional Eastern-style meditation. In as little time as 20 minutes, you can feel like a new person, ready to make the most of a season that’s often called nature’s “second spring.”

How to Ramp Up Nutrition While Kicking Back This Summer

When my Romanian grandmother went away for the summer, she brought her commitment to anti-aging nutrition along with her. Thanks to her deep roots in Romania’s traditional wellness culture, she  knew exactly how to fit that disciplined attitude into a restful, pleasure-filled vacation. As this excerpt from my new book, Timeless Woman, explains, the secret of balancing good nutrition with easy summer living is to embrace the foods that Mother Nature intended us to eat at this time of year.

Satisfying Seasonal Appetites and Lifestyle Needs
Summer menus that center on salads and other vegetable dishes are in keeping with the Romanian tradition of living in harmony with the seasons. Cold dishes and foods that are less filling are particularly appealing in hot weather. These easy-to-prepare foods also fit summertime’s relaxed schedules. Salads are a wonderful alternative to convenience foods and takeout meals when you’re on vacation. All you need is a medley of fresh summer vegetables from local produce stands. Then you can put together a nutritious homemade meal without spending a lot of time standing in line in a crowded supermarket or sweating over a hot stove.

This cooling Romanian summer salad is a snap to make and a delicious way to increase your intake of anti-aging nutrients. The antioxidants and anti-inflammatories in the cucumbers and peppers help prevent and repair the damaging effects of intense summertime sun on our skin.

Romanian Summer Salad

2 garden cucumbers, peeled
1 bell pepper (red, yellow, or orange)
2 tomatoes
1 young onion
2 tablespoons sunflower seed oil or
extra virgin olive oil or canola oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut all vegetables. Mix with oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Summer produce supplies and abundance of anti-aging nutrients, while providing a fest for the senses. KEKO64

Summer produce supplies an abundance of anti-aging nutrients, while providing a feast for the senses. KEKO64

Even the most casual meal should be elegantly presented. Romanian cooks take as much pride in their presentation of the food as they do in their treasured family recipes. This Old World approach to serving meals can be easily integrated into laidback summer lifestyles by taking advantage of the beautiful qualities of whole foods. In summer, nature provides us with a bounty of brightly hued produce that can be shown to its best advantage with a minimum of fuss. For instance, you can create a minor work of art simply by arranging a rainbow assortment of vegetables or fruits on a plate, with an eye to how the different colors, sizes, shapes, and textures work together. Easier still, you can add visual excitement to a plain dish of sliced tomatoes or grilled summer squash with a garnish of summer herbs.

Visually appealing food stimulates the digestive juices that enable our body to extract dietary nutrients. Food that’s pleasing to the eye is also an expression of caring that helps make the meal an emotionally satisfying experience. Other thoughtful touches like a properly set table with fresh flowers and cloth napkins add a special shine to the meal, transforming the simplest lunch or dinner into a celebration of summer.

Three Fall Skincare Fundamentals for Rejuvenating Your Skin

Why You Need a Balanced Fall Skincare Routine

Like every change of season, the arrival of fall places new demands on our skin while also presenting fresh opportunities to optimize its health and appearance. To help you prepare for the rigors of colder weather and take full advantage of the seasonal foods and renewed energy that fall brings, I recommend making the following seasonal adjustments to your integrated beauty and wellness regime.

Fall is the perfect time to revive radiance by shedding old skin cells. image courtesy of James Barker - FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Shed your old skin, bring on the new: Get your skin in shape for winter with a fall exfoliation program. A series of professional organic peels will not only help you slough off sun-damaged skin of summer, but also increase your skin’s capacity to absorb moisture. In addition to alpha hydroxy acids from the fall harvest of apples and quince, a traditional European organic peel contains Hungarian paprika to stimulate circulation. This combination of ingredients restores a youthful glow by bringing new cells the surface, while strengthening the skin’s ability to repair and renew itself. To calm, soothe, and protect the delicate new layer of skin revealed by the peel, your aesthetician should apply a mask that’s rich in organic moisturizers and plant-derived anti-inflammatories. Ingredients like aloe vera and white tea not only minimize redness but also help heal UV damage with generous doses of antioxidants. For your homecare routine, choose an organic scrub that contains gentle natural exfoliants such as ground walnuts, fruits, and lactic acid and follow it up with a super-rich night cream. Be sure to consult a qualified aesthetician about the pacing of your exfoliation treatments. A gentle, gradual approach to exfoliation is the key to achieving beautiful results without unattractive side effects. And don’t forget to wear a natural mineral sun block even on gray, cloudy days. Freshly exfoliated skin is particularly sensitive to ultraviolet rays.

Remember your roots: The earth provides the perfect remedy when the colder weather is about to drive us indoors, where our skin will be exposed to dry air and an increased risk of infection. The root vegetables that thrive in fall are packed with minerals and other nutrients from the soil. Increasing consumption of these nutrients now prepares our skin for winter by improving the resilience of the skin’s protective barrier and strengthening its resistance to inflammatory conditions, bacteria, and funguses. High in fiber, root vegetables satisfy hearty fall appetites without adding a lot of calories to a meal. Choose a colorful assortment of seasonal vegetables and roast them with olive oil and herbs for a delicious, restorative dinner. Some of the most nutritious choices are listed below:

  • Beets – High in antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and enzymes that bind and neutralize toxic cellular wastes.
  • Yams – A natural source of rejuvenating plant hormones.
  • Onions – Rich in flavonoids that act as anti-bacterials.
  • Parsnips – A good of vitamin C, folate, and other vitamins and minerals that support healthy skin function.
  • Sweet potatoes – High in vitamin A, one of the core active ingredients in anti-aging skin treatments.
  • Carrots – Full of beta-carotene, which helps prevent environmental damage and adds golden tones to the complexion.
  • Garlic – High in allicins with antibiotic and anti-fungal properties; sulfur compounds also benefits skin by promoting circulatory health.

Pump up your exercise routine with fresh air: Recent scientific studies confirm intuitive wisdom. Exercising outdoors is good for both body and soul. According to a New York Times article, new research has revealed that people who take their workout outside not only exercise longer and harder, but also enjoy the experience more. Best of all, people who walked in the fresh air improved their overall sense of wellbeing. On psychological tests, they scored higher in enthusiasm, pleasure, vitality, and self-esteem than people who exercised indoors. They also reported less tension, depression, and fatigue. The energizing effects of cool weather make fall a particularly inviting time to exercise outdoors. Observing nature’s splendors as you walk, run, or do yoga poses on a brisk fall day is a great way to enjoy a natural high and reinforce your commitment to a disciplined fitness routine. From boosting blood flow to relaxing the mind, the benefits of regular exercise translate into a healthier, younger-looking complexion and a rejuvenated spirit.

Taking the Heat Off Your Skin: 10 Anti-inflammatory Diet Tips

One of the most important ways a healthful diet can help you nurture beautiful, youthful skin is by keeping your body’s inflammatory response in check. Under normal circumstances, inflammation promotes healing by sending white blood cells to infected or injured tissues. But inflammation can also damage tissues when stressors such as smoking, obesity, or sun exposure cause it to spiral out of control and become chronic. Chronic inflammation plays a key role in a host of skin problems from rashes, acne, eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea to wrinkles, sagging, and other visible signs of aging. An anti-inflammatory diet increases the power of your topical skincare routine to minimize the symptoms of these conditions and restore balanced health to your complexion.
Controlling inflammation depends as much on avoiding the wrong foods as it does on eating more of the right ones. Here are some basic guidelines to help you distinguish between pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory foods.

Pro-inflammatory Foods: Adding Fuel to the Fire
To minimize your exposure dietary compounds that fuel inflammation-related skin damage, avoid foods from the following categories.
Trans fats – Steer clear of processed foods such as crackers, cookies, and chips that list hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils on their labels.
Refined carbohydrates – Replace white bread, pasta, and rice with whole grain versions.
Sugar – The link between sugar and inflammation has serious implications for your skin. When sugar molecules attach to the proteins in our skin’s collagen fibers, the resulting inflammation causes those fibers to break down, reducing the skin’s strength and resilience. Inflammation linked to high blood sugar levels can also worsen acne. In addition to limiting your intake of sweets, watch out for sugars hiding in processed foods under different names like sucrose, dextrose, maltose, fructose, cane juice, and corn syrup.
Omega-6 cooking oils – Popular cooking oils such as corn, soy, canola, sunflower, and safflower are high in omega-6 fatty acids. While these fatty acids play a crucial role in our health, some of them promote inflammation when consumed in excess. For optimum health, you need to balance your omega-6 consumption with adequate amounts of anti-inflammatory omega-3s. Good sources include beans, fish, olive oil, flaxseeds, and walnuts. Depending on your specific health needs, the ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s in your diet should vary from 4:1 to 1:1.

Eating a rainbow of vegetables helps protect the skin from damaging inflammation.

Eating a rainbow of vegetables helps protect the skin from damaging inflammation.

Anti-inflammatory Foods: Keeping Your Skin Cool, Calm, and Collected
The following foods are among the richest sources of compounds that help keep your complexion healthy and youthful by interrupting the inflammatory process.
Berries – The phenolic compounds in blueberries, strawberries, and other berries help block enzymes that contribute to inflammation.
Olive oil – Another great source of anti-inflammatory phenolic compounds—for the highest concentration of these compounds, choose the extra virgin variety.
Cruciferous vegetables – These vegetables belong to the mustard family and include cabbage, mustard greens, broccoli, and cauliflower. The vitamin K, the omega-3 fatty acids, and a chemical called ITC in cruciferous vegetables help regulate the body’s inflammatory response.
Mushrooms – Mushrooms have been used an anti-inflammatories since ancient times. Porcini, shitake, and oyster mushrooms are particularly good choices.
Onions and garlic – These two members of the allium family of vegetables help prevent inflammation with a potent combination of phenolic compounds. Red onions are particularly high in these anti-inflammatories. They’re concentrated in the outer layers, so be sure you don’t peel away this portion of the onion.
Sweet potatoes – The anti-inflammatory effects of sweet potatoes come from the pigments that give them their orange or purple color, as well as from their high levels of vitamin A and other antioxidants. To preserve these nutrients cook sweet potatoes by steaming.
Ensuring your diet and your skincare products contain healthy doses of natural anti-inflammatories is a safe, gentle, effective way of protecting your complexion from the damaging effects of inflammation. In my next post, I’ll review the major plant-derived anti-inflammatories used in top-quality organic skincare products.

 

How to Optimize Sun Protection Through Seasonal Eating

As summer approaches, I’ll be focusing my diet on helping my body cope with this season’s biggest environmental challenge: sun exposure.
Ultraviolet radiation causes free radical damage, a series of cellular changes associated with premature aging and serious diseases, including cancer. By eating foods that are rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, we can help prevent these damaging changes from occurring. While this dietary strategy isn’t meant to replace external sun protection like hats and a natural mineral sun block, it should be added to your summertime health practices to ensure a complete approach to sun safety.
The following list highlights five of the best foods for protecting yourself against the risks of sun exposure this summer.

Tomatoes are one of the summer foods that offer natural sun protection. Image: graur razvan ionut; FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tomatoes – A British study suggests that the antioxidant lycopene found in tomatoes acts as an internal sunscreen. Study subjects who ate 5 tablespoons of tomato paste a day for 12 weeks were found to have 30% more protection against sunburn than those who did not. A plate of fresh sliced tomatoes drizzled with olive oil and vinegar and sprinkled with fresh basil is a delicious source of this natural sun protection.
Mushrooms – Several species of mushrooms are high in selenium, an antioxidant mineral that counteracts free radical damage. Selenium also works together with vitamin E to help prevent the aging effects of inflammation. Choose crimini, portabella, or white mushrooms to maximize the selenium content of my favorite summer risotto.
Fatty fish – A piece of grilled, steamed, or broiled fatty fish such as salmon or tuna provides a hearty dose of omega-3 fatty acids.  According to a recent study at the University of Manchester, these essential fatty acids may help prevent skin cancer by reducing the negative impact of sunlight on the immune system.
Carrots – In addition to neutralizing free radicals, the beta carotene in carrots may also reduce sensitivity to the sun. Raw carrots are the perfect choice when you crave a crunchy summer snack.
Greens – From fresh herbs like parsley and basil to spinach, chard, and other dark green leafy vegetables, this diverse range of foods is another plentiful source of beta carotene. Greens are also packed with polyphenols, which combine antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. To find enticing ideas for adding greens to your summertime meals, stay tuned to our Facebook page.

5 Diet Tips for a Younger, More Beautiful Face

Now that the season for New Year’s resolutions is here, many of you may be giving some extra thought to your eating habits. This year, keep in mind that what we eat is as important to the appearance of our face as it is to the size and shape of our body. Every aspect of our health from digestion and skin and muscle repair to mood regulation is affected by our diet. A diet that supports the healthy functioning of our organs and tissues optimizes the defining elements of a beautiful, youthful face. A radiant complexion, firm facial muscles, and a vibrant expression are all reflections of a thoughtful, balanced approach to eating.

Your face is a mirror of your overall health. <Image courtesy of adamr/FreeDigitalPhotos.net>

Here are some dietary tips for maintaining a naturally attractive face:
1. Eat enzyme-rich foods – Raw plant-based and naturally fermented foods contain high levels of enzymes, substances that speed up and regulate chemical reactions in the body. Enzymes improve digestion and help cleanse the blood by breaking down toxins and organic wastes. Our body’s supply of these vital substances declines as we age. To replenish enzyme levels, include foods such as raw fruit and vegetables, sprouted grains, yogurt, miso, olives, and sauerkraut in your meals and snacks. You’ll find that eating these foods not only increases you energy levels, but also helps restore the clear eyes and fresh complexion of youth.

2. Consume plenty of colorful fresh fruits and vegetables – Broccoli, kale, yellow and red peppers, purple plums and grapes—eating a “rainbow diet” will ensure you get the antioxidants you need to fight the effects of free radical damage on the skin. Carotenoids—a type of antioxidant found in deeply pigmented fruits and vegetables—can even improve skin tone. These yellow, orange, and red pigments give your complexion a healthy golden glow.

3. Get enough protein The amino acids in the proteins we eat provide our bodies with the raw materials for rebuilding the collagen fibers in our skin, muscles, and bones. Over time as collagen production declines, these tissues atrophy, causing sagging and wrinkling. To help slow this process, our diet should consist of 10% to 35% protein. The quality of the protein we consume is as important as the quantity. High-quality proteins contain some or all of the 9 essential amino acids that our body can’t manufacture on its own. Good sources of these amino acids include meat, fish, egg whites, legumes, soy, nuts, and quinoa.

4. Include healthy fats – Omega-3 fatty acids from plant sources and fatty cold-water fish have powerful anti-aging benefits. These healthy fats help keep the skin moist, control acne, and repair sun damage. By repairing cell membranes, omega-3s help protect the skin from environmental threats They’ve also been shown to improve mood and sleep, two important factors in maintaining a young, vital look. Good sources of omega-3s include olive oil, flaxseeds, nuts, avocados, salmon, and mackerel.

5. Avoid refined carbohydrates – High blood glucose levels from foods like white flour and sugar can trigger the chronic inflammation and hormonal imbalances associated with acne. Chronic inflammation also contributes to the breakdown of the collagen and elastin fibers that keep our skin strong and resilient. These fibers can begin to crack and tear when they bond with sugar molecules. To keep both acne and wrinkles at bay, substitute fresh fruit for sugary treats and replace refined carbohydrates with 100% whole grain products.

Your face is the mirror of your total health and wellbeing. In upcoming posts, I’ll be saying more about how to beautify your face by adopting healthy lifestyle practices.

How Protein Helps Keep Faces Young and Fit

You may think of it as the favorite fuel of bodybuilders, but protein is also one of the secrets of a firm, youthful-looking face. In much the same way that this vital nutrient builds strong physiques, protein helps keep our complexions and the underlying muscles and bones in optimal shape.

The Collagen Connection: Facial Fitness

The most abundant protein in our bodies is collagen. This type of protein makes up the bands of connective tissue that enable skin to stretch without wrinkling and sagging. Collagen is also a major component of muscles, bones, and blood vessels. These tissues tend to shrink and weaken over time as collagen production declines. We can help slow and minimize this tissue erosion by getting enough protein.

Dietary Proteins: Restoring Firmness from the Inside Out

How much is enough? According to the Institute of Medicine, we should get at least 10% and no more than 35% of our calories from protein. The composition of protein we eat is as important as the amount. To form complete proteins, our food intake must supply our bodies with nine essential amino acids. (They’re called essential because our bodies can’t make them on their own.) As the building blocks of proteins, amino acids enable our bodies to perform a variety of critical functions including

  • Cell formation
  • Fluid balance
  • Distribution of nutrients
  • Tissue growth and repair

Complete proteins are readily available from meat, fish, and other animal products. The tradeoff of these foods is their relatively high content of saturated fat. Plant-based proteins avoid this pitfall but many are deficient in one or more of the 9 essential amino acids. For this reason, vegetarians should ensure their diet includes a variety of foods with different amino acids profiles. Getting enough lysine, an amino acid vital to tissue repair, is particularly important. High-lysine foods like tofu, nuts, seeds, and legumes are all excellent choices for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. If you want to include animal proteins in your diet be sure to stick to lean cuts of meat and keep portions small. The key in either case is to maintain a healthy balance of protein sources.

Plant proteins help keep skin firm and moist.

Topical Rejuvenators: The Anti-Aging Benefits of Plant Proteins

Plant proteins also play an important role in topical skin care. One of the best of sources of botanical proteins is quinoa. Although it’s used like a grain in various cuisines, quinoa is actually the seed of a leafy green plant. As a source of all 9 of the essential amino acids, quinoa is the ideal protein for nourishing, repairing, and protecting the skin from environmental damage. In addition to its firming action, quinoa helps bind moisture to skin cells, resulting in a smoother, more supple complexion.

Quinoa is also packed with antioxidant vitamins and minerals. To increase your defenses against aging, I recommend adding this superfood to a total skincare regime that includes a healthy diet, plant-derived organic skincare products, and facial exercises.

 

Brighten Up Pale Skin Tone—Without Makeup!

The good news about the beauty benefits of fruits and vegetables has just gotten better. Not only do these nutrient-rich food help fight the aging effects of environmental skin damage—they can streamline your morning makeup routine. <The pigments in produce perk up pale complexions.

 

Plant pigments perk up pale complexions. Image: David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Natural Plant Pigments Keep Complexions in the Pink

New research reported on Web MD suggests that eating 3.5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day can actually put roses in your cheeks. According to the Scottish scientists who ran the study, the secret of that healthy natural glow lies in an important family of nutrients: carotenoids—the red, orange, and yellow pigments contained in our daily doses of produce. Some of the best sources of carotenoids include

  • Tomatoes
  • Carrots
  • Apricots
  • Red peppers
  • Squash
  • Mangoes
  • Cantaloupe
  • Pink grapefruit
  • Dark green vegetables (e.g., collard greens, spinach, kale)
  • Parsley

Based on their results, the scientists believe that simply adding one additional portion a day can visibly brighten the skin in as little as 6 weeks.

The Beauty of a Plant-Based Diet, Inside and Out

Fruits and vegetables are also a great source of revitalizing skincare ingredients. Instead clogging your pores with foundation and blusher, releases your skin’s natural radiance with a stimulating botanical mask. Look for ingredients that improve blood flow to the skin:

  • Quince
  • Hungarian chili peppers
  • Sweet orange oil
  • Cinnamon
  • Lemon fruit extract

Add warmth to winter-weary skin with skincare ingredients from the garden.

The key to avoiding irritation and lingering redness is a balanced formula. Check the label for rosemary, honey, eucalyptus, peppermint, and other calming ingredients. And be sure to follow your mask with a soothing toner and rich, hydrating face cream.

As Good As It Gets: Antioxidants for Dessert

Summer Apricots: A Sweet Source of Anti-aging Nutrients

Summer fruits are a delicious way to add antioxidant vitamins, flavonoids, and other revitalizing phytonutrients to your diet. As rich in anti-aging nutrients including vitamin C and beta-carotene as they are in flavor, apricots epitomize the spirit of Mediterranean-style cuisines. In Turkey, this delectable relative of the peach is so prized that the Turkish equivalent of the English idiom “it doesn’t get any better than this” (bundan iyisi  Şam’da kayısı) is “the only thing better than this is an apricot in Damascus.”

The featured role of apricots in my native Romania’s famously luscious pastries, jams, and other desserts reflects the enduring cultural influence of early Greco-Roman and Turkish settlers on our diverse and vibrant cuisine. One of my personal favorites is a distinctly Romanian variant of Italy’s albicocche cotte al vino (“apricots cooked in wine”).

Fresh Apricots Cooked in Wine

Unlike the Italian version, my grandmother’s recipe – which appears below - doesn’t require making a syrup of dry white wine, sugar, and vanilla. The use of a sweet dessert wine and cinnamon instead reduces the preparation time and calorie count, while maximizing the fresh, natural taste of the fruit.You can also adjust the taste of this dessert to suit your palate. If you desire a honey-like sweetness and complex flavor, choose a true dessert wine, such as Romanian Grasa de Cotnari, Hungarian Tokay, or an imported or domestic Muscat. If you have less of a sweet tooth, your might prefer the taste of lighter white wines like a sauvignon blanc or German Riesling.

Delicious summer apricots are loaded with anti-aging nutrients.

INGREDIENTS

Fresh apricots, 1-1/2 lb (fruit should be ripe but not mushy)

White dessert wine*

Cinnamon, a pinch

Vanilla ice cream (optional)

Cut apricots in half and remove the stones. Place facedown in a large skillet. Pour in wine. Cook the fruit approximately 3 minutes on each side. Serve alone or with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream for special treat!

 

Romanian Holiday: A State of Health, Happiness, and Mediterranean Desserts

Moderate portions of simple yet elegant fruit-based desserts like this one are a great way to integrate sensual pleasure into a naturally healthy lifestyle. Even in the wintertime, one bite of this refreshing treat recalls the extended hours of sunlight during my summer holidays on the shores of the Black Sea. Regardless of whether you summer in Portofino, Martha’s Vineyard, or your own backyard, my grandmother’s summer dessert recipe is guaranteed put you in a vacation state of mind.

Add regular doses of summer's natural pleasures to your European-style anti-aging regime. Image: Idea go / FreeDigitalPhotos.net