I spent part of last weekend reading a book called Your Skin, Younger- New Science Secrets to Naturally Younger Skin. I learned a few new things, got a couple of surprises and was happy to see that my own research during the past couple of years seems to have been taking me in the right direction. What's exciting about Your Skin, Younger is that the authors (two doctors and a nutritionist) have pulled together the recent breakthroughs in understanding aging and the effects of nutrition, as well as ingredients that aid cellular repair.

Here are some of the highlights of Your Skin, Younger - you'll recognize a few of the ideas from articles on Truth In Aging (and, more recently, Truth In Slimming).

Sugar isn't sweet

Scientists now know that advanced glycation endproducts (called AGEs appropriately) lurk behind why we age. They are created when a sugar molecule hooks onto one of the amino acids of a protein or when a sugar combines with certain fats or other compounds in food. AGEs also form within the human body when glucose fuses to proteins, fats, or DNA. (source). This is a bad thing because AGEs have been implicated in the progression of age-related diseases and, as we’ve written about on Truth In Aging, glycation leads to cross-linking, which is the formation of chemical bridges between proteins or other large molecules. A material that undergoes cross-linking usually becomes harder, less elastic and has a tendency to tear or crack. In the aging body, cross-linking contributes to hardened arteries, wrinkled skin and stiff joints.

AGEs and diet

This was one the surprising notions in the book: a diet that is high in animal protein - especially if meat is dry cooked with a high heat - encourages AGEs. Your Skin, Younger actually says that the Atkins Diet will age you. I delved into this for Truth In Slimming and you can check out my post "Will The Atkins Diet Age You Faster. Less surprisingly, the book advocates eating veggies and fruit. But you definitely shouldn't consider going completely vegetarian. In 2008, a study found that vegetarian adults have lower rates of collagen production and that levels of AGEs are much higher in long-term vegetarians. This is because they miss out on taurine and carnosine, antiaging amino acids that are mostly absent from plants.

Something fishy about collagen

This one is new to me. Apparently fish cartilage supplements (with collagen and glycosaminoglycans, or GAGs) will significantly improve the appearance of the skin - in terms of increasing dermal thickness and improving elasticity. I read this with some skepticism, partly because the body does not efficiently absorb many oral supplements and I couldn't imagine fish collagen going down that well. However, the Your Skin, Younger authors insist that small peptide units (although they then say 'some', implying not all) are absorbed through the intestine and then they act as a signal to turn on fibroblast activity. A 2006 study found that fish protein, soy, lycopene and green tea eliminated wrinkles in post menopausal women.

Pill popping

CoQ10 gets a lot of love from Your Skin, Younger, which cites a 2004 that showed that oral supplements of CoQ10 had a positive impact on the skin. Now, about a decade ago I had a flirtation with taking CoQ10 and selenium supplements with the idea that they'd make me look younger. After a year or so, I concluded that I was wasting my money. Still, I am intrigued enough to do some new research on CoQ10. The authors propose a cocktail of supplements that include CoQ10, alpha lipoic acid, ceramides and L-carnitine. While I decide whether I am willing to buy the supplementation idea, its good to know what all of these ingredients are available topically in many of TIA's favorite potions and lotions (see Nutra-Lift Foundation for CoQ10, Reviva for alpha lipoic acid and GloTherapeutics for L-carnitine.

Topical fruits

Moving on from supplements, Your Skin, Younger highlights some topical ingredients that will be familiar to many of you wrinkle warriors: EPA omega-3 (we came across that recently in the new Reviva Labs' EFAs Cream), ceramides, squalene (make sure its from olive, not shark), phosphatidylserine (I'm going to have to check this one out), alpha hydroxy acids, fish cartilage (I shall be hunting this one down!), soy protein and well known antioxidants such as turmeric, tea, wine, cocoa and botanical odds and ends such as horse chestnut.

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