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Expert Q&A: Antiaging and Diet

An interview with David Grotto, RD, LDN.
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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.

How important are genetics to the aging process? Can you do anything to control your genes?

I'm not a genetics expert, but what I find truly amazing is when it's hard to distinguish who's the daughter and who's the mother. So there certainly is a thing of passing on good genes. But I think, too, that some mothers have passed along their commitment to a healthy lifestyle. That may be a good part of it.

What's your opinion about hormones and menopause? Do they slow down aging?

The whole concept of estrogen replacement therapy was about that. The only difficulty is the side consequences of doing that, potentially putting women at risk of heart disease.

So there are foods naturally rich in phytoestrogens that may help keep skin nice and supple. Soy is a good source. Beans and legumes are generally high in phytoestrogens. Flax, too. The key with those foods is not to wait until you turn 50 to suddenly start eating them. Start earlier eating moderate amounts of those foods.

There's a book out: Japanese Women Don't Get Old or Fat. It's very interesting because if anybody doesn't show their age, it's Japanese women. That's a nod to their diet historically. There definitely may be something there -- to eating tofu and vegetables.

But we in America tend to think more is better. In Japanese culture, soy is not the main thing on the plate. A handful of edamame, a little tofu in soup, is enough. You don't need to eat a whole brick of tofu. More is not necessarily better.

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