You Can Eat and Exercise Your Way to Better Skin, Science Says

Shoppers pick up the fruits at the French Carrefour supermarket in Shanghai, 01 June 2004. New rules take effect in China requiring foreign retailers like Carrefour SA. of France, US-based Wal-Mart and Germany's Metro to pass annual inspections before they can open any new stores. AFP PHOTO/LIU Jin (Photo credit should read LIU JIN/AFP/Getty Images)
Source: LIU JIN/AFP/Getty Images

Big news this week, if you care about your skin: there's a new diet that claims to help you develop a younger-looking face from the inside out in just 28 days. Can you really "eat your way to younger skin," though, or is this just another fad diet? The verdict is mixed. 

To its credit, the "Younger Skin In 28 Days" diet was at least developed by a real nutritionist, Karen Fischer. She relies on scientific-sounding jargon to promote it in the press, because people love science! In fact, the whole Younger Skin In 28 Days diet focuses on avoiding "Advanced Glycation End Products" (AGEs). Allegedly, AGEs are so bad for our skin that we should be counting them instead of calories. 

I was skeptical, so I investigated. As it turns out, AGEs are real: animal foods, fatty foods, and heat-processed foods contain the most AGEs. Peer-reviewed scientific evidence suggests that we should indeed take some care to reduce AGEs consumption because they have oxidative and inflammatory effects possibly related to heart disease, diabetes, and other diseases of the developed western world.

However, as the main AGE researchers themselves admit, a diet intended to reduce AGEs is basically the same diet recommended by other scientifically well-supported sources: rich in colorful plant foods, with less animal products and processed items. So, once you've established a healthy, baseline diet for yourself, complete with plenty of antioxidants, it's probably more obsessive than helpful to count the AGEs separately.

Instead, use that time and energy to exercise more: it doesn't make for as sexy of a headline as a magical face-rejuvenating diet, but, per the New York Times, recent studies show that exercise helps greatly in maintaining youthful skin. Middle-aged regular exercisers displayed skin composition (collagen and plumpness) similar to that of much younger people, and new middle-aged exercisers seemed to reap many of these benefits quickly with just a couple of hours of activity per week. 

Researchers don't know exactly why exercise has this effect, but it sure is a welcome one. So, once again, put down the fad diet book, stick to what we already knew to be a healthy diet, and get moving! Your skin will thank you for it.



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