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April 2, 2008 > You Are What You Eat

You Are What You Eat

Learn Which Foods Nourish Your Skin at Washington Hospital Seminar

Whoever said "you are what you eat" sure knew what they were talking about. What you eat affects every organ in your body, including your skin.
"Your skin is a reflection of the foods you eat or don't eat," said Lorie Roffelsen, a registered dietitian at Washington Hospital who will present an upcoming seminar on ways to protect and nourish your skin through food choices.
"You Are What You Eat" is scheduled for 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, April 15. It is part of an evening lecture series held the third Tuesday of the month at the Washington Hospital Women's Center, 2500 Mowry Avenue, in Fremont. For more information or to reserve a space, call (510) 608-1356.
We live in a culture hungry for ways to reduce the signs of aging. From expensive creams to plastic surgery, we collectively spend huge sums of money to hold on to our youth. But what if reducing the signs of aging is really as simple as eating right and protecting our skin?
"There are definitely steps you can take to reduce the wear and tear on your skin," said Roffelsen, who will provide a number of tips, from skin care to nutrition.
Skin aging is a result of the normal process of aging combined with environmental damage that occurs from exposure to sun and wind. While certain nutrients can help, the first line of defense against wrinkles and age spots is to protect your skin from the sun's powerful rays.
"If you go out in the sun, you should wear sunscreen or a daily moisturizer with a Sun Protective Factor (SPF) of at least 15," Roffelsen said. "It's the best way to protect yourself from the ultraviolet radiation damage that ages the skin."
She added that it's also helpful to stay out of the sun from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., when the sun is the most intense and potentially harmful.
While eating right won't stop the aging process, certain nutrients - mainly contained in fruits and vegetables - can help nourish the skin and slow the process.
There is a lot of important new research showing the tremendous power of antioxidants to reduce the damage caused by the aging process. Antioxidants come from vitamins A (beta carotene), C and E, selenium, and phytochemicals like flavonoids and lycopene.
Antioxidants Counter Free Radicals
Antioxidants work by significantly slowing or preventing the damage caused by free radicals, which are produced when our body cells use oxygen. This oxidative damage not only takes its toll on the skin, it also contributes to a number of health problems like heart disease, stroke and cancer.
"I'm a big advocate of getting these nutrients from whole foods rather than supplements," said Roffelsen, who will provide information about foods that are good sources of antioxidants and other nutrients our skin needs.
Omega-3 fatty acids are also credited with improving skin health. These "good fats" are responsible for the health of the cell membrane. In addition, they help reduce the body's production of inflammatory compounds, which are involved in the aging process.
Roffelsen will also talk about research looking at vitamins and nutrients that can be applied topically to the skin and whether they have any benefit. Among the most popular are creams containing vitamin A, which may revitalize skin by increasing cell turnover, a natural process that replaces old skin cells with new ones and keeps the complexion looking fresh.
"The bottom line is, healthy skin is just another reason to eat right," said Roffelsen. "There isn't just one food that will make your skin young and beautiful. It's a matter of eating a combination of fruits and vegetables and other nutrient-rich foods. You will improve your skin as well as your overall health."
To learn more about nourishing your skin through good nutrition, attend the lecture on Tuesday, April 15. To reserve a space, call (510) 608-1356.
For more information about other Washington Hospital programs and services, visit

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