Long for smooth, supple skin to go along with that slimmer waistline? Then step up to the plate — of salmon and asparagus, that is — to get a double shot of good effect. Living on some more typical low-fat meals, on the other hand, will ravage your body and your brain, leaving you wrinkled as well as fat and fatigued, according to dermatologist Nicholas Perricone, M.D.
Eating right can improve our looks "to a tremendous extent," says Perricone, an expert on eating your way to superb skin. On his anti-inflammation diet, his patients start to look younger — and what's more, their acne clears up and their eczema improves. If you long to look better, too, know the elements of Perricone's "wrinkle-free diet."
- Eat generous portions of the right kinds of protein. Protein is necessary for cell repair and helps keep aging in check. On the best-choices list, fish ranks first, followed by these other protein-packed animal products: egg whites, skinless chicken and turkey breast.
- Don't fear fat — believe it or not, some is healthy — even essential. Fats and oils can provide anti-inflammatory protection and youth-preserving antioxidants. Fatty fish provides hefty helpings of anti-aging omega-3 fatty acids; salmon, mackerel and albacore tuna are among your best bets for staying beautiful. Also tops among anti-inflammatories: extra virgin olive oil. It'll make you look lovely, and meanwhile could lower your bad cholesterol.
- Steer clear of inflammation-inducing sugar and high-glycemic carbohydrates. This category of food includes potatoes, rice and pasta. These foods can cause blood sugar to spike and lead to dangerous chemical changes in your body. Their ability to fuel creation of age-accelerating free radicals and to break down collagen has earned them high rank among skin's greatest foes. Your body needs carbohydrates, though, so get your fill from low-glycemic fruits and vegetables. Choice picks run from arugula to zucchini — they're packed with youth-preserving antioxidants.
- Know three more keys to the Perricone plan: Drink water, drink water, drink water. At the risk of repeating himself, the doctor himself drinks glass after glass — eight to 10 glasses of water each day, he reports, to help his own organs and cells function efficiently. Spring water's better than the kind from the tap with all its chlorine and heavy metals.
Perricone's system of eating and drinking your wrinkles away is a way of life for some youth seekers, but if you're not interested in a long-term commitment just yet, the doctor provides quick-fix remedies for those in a rush to look radiant for a reunion or other occasion. Have a special day scheduled for this Saturday? Start Wednesday morning eating fish at least twice a day — by the fourth day, Perricone promises, "The dark circles will be gone, and you'll look radiant and amazing."
Diet not doing enough for your taste? Consider trying antioxidant creams — Perricone says they feed your face and body the extra vitamins (including A, C and E) that you need to extend your youth.