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Expert Q&A: Antiaging and Diet

An interview with David Grotto, RD, LDN.
By
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

We all know that getting too much sun and smoking can age us prematurely. But what role does diet play in how well we age?

To help us understand the role of diet in aging, WebMD turned to dietitian David Grotto, RD, LDN, a radio talk show host and author of 101 Foods That Could Save Your Life. Grotto believes that eating the right foods -- along with other healthy behaviors -- can help reverse the aging process. Here's what he had to say.

 

How can your diet help you look younger?

Skin is the largest organ in the body, so it's certainly worthwhile taking care of.  Not having an adequate diet contributes to your skin's appearance in multiple ways. If we look at the skin's ability to protect itself from ultraviolet light, there are key nutrients involved in that. It's important to have vitamins A and C and D. These actually play a role in protecting skin from ultraviolet light.

How can food and nutrients reverse the aging process?

Basically, you're asking how do you restore elasticity to skin to give it a more supple look.

First, we have to talk about prevention. We can protect skin from ultraviolet light externally by using a sunblock. But you can do things like not smoking. Smoking damages the elastin that helps keep facial skin flexible.

Sleep is important in making sure skin gets proper rest to heal itself. Skin cells turn over at a rapid rate, and they need time to replenish and rebuild.

As for foods or nutrients that reverse aging -- vitamin A is certainly one of those, and it comes from a variety of sources. Carrots, apricots, nectarines, sweet potatoes, egg yolks, even some green things like spinach, broccoli. Collards are a great source of vitamin A.

Vitamin D -- your skin converts sun into vitamin D, but a lot of people have this sun phobia. You can get vitamin D from fortified foods like orange juice and milk. Research is showing that the lowly mushroom is also packed with vitamin D.

Vitamin C is critical for wound repair, for any type of tissue maintenance, and that applies to your skin. Tomatoes, citrus, kiwi -- they're all great sources.

At what age does the body start to decline? How can you stop that?

There's biological age and chronological age. We can't do anything about chronological age. But with biological age, lots of things can affect that -- smoking, not getting enough sleep, a poor diet, getting too much sun exposure.

Experts say avoid the sun -- but what else helps keep skin looking young?

Eating a healthy diet absolutely makes a difference. Getting the right nutrients is vital for repairing skin and getting new healthy cells to replace the damaged ones. Vitamins A, C, and D are important. But there may be some components in specific foods that help, too.

Avocados are a good source of vitamin E, which is also great for skin. In fact, an avocado has 20 vitamins and minerals.

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