The other day I was chatting with someone who is in her 40s. She’d been doing some research on Look Fabulous Forever and had been reading some of my blogs. This had led her to reframe her thoughts about ageing and to start to think of older age in a more positive way. She then found herself being asked in a large group of women the question ‘Who amongst you would like to look younger?’ Thanks to LFF, she was the only one not to raise her hand!
It’s almost a given in our society that everyone, given the choice, would opt to pass for someone younger.
Which is doubtless the reason that more and more women in their 20s, 30s, 40s and beyond are opting for Botox injections, lasering, chemical peels, fillers and ultimately surgery in their attempts to ‘stop the clock’. All of which overlooks the fact that the appearance of age on your face is determined by a great many factors, many of which are within your control. So, if like me, you would never let anyone near your face with a scalpel, syringe or any other so called miracle cure, you may be interested in the advice I have just come across from Dr. Nicholas Perricone, every word of which I agree with.
Some background. Dr. Perricone is an American dermatologist who heads up a huge skincare company. I started using his daytime moisturiser when I was about 60 and it was the best I’d ever used. When we were formulating our own skincare range, the chemist we worked with asked for a benchmark product so that he had an idea of what we were aiming to achieve. I gave him a jar of the Perricone moisturiser and said ‘If you can make us something as good as that, I will be delighted’. After a lengthy, challenging and complex process we finally achieved our goal and the minute we had the finished samples, I changed over to the three LFF skincare products. I have been using Hydration Hold Face Serum, Smooth the Day Face Cream and Deeply Dreamy Night Cream for about 20 months now and can honestly say that my skin has never looked so healthy and smooth. It’s also clear of blemishes and spots, including age spots.
However, I will also admit that around the time I changed over to the new LFF skin care regime, I overhauled my diet in an attempt to control my persistent acne rosacea, and here is where my experience chimes fully with Dr. Perricone’s advice which he dispenses to his ‘A’ list clients. Asked the secret to ageing well, he suggests that you start in your kitchen. He is also very against Botox, and I quote: “People may say that with Botox you look ageless - no, you look like a space alien because you are not using your face. If the muscle is paralysed, it will atrophy. You may have no lines or wrinkles, but you don’t have convexities - the shape of your face that makes you look youthful.”
Perricone is much more interested in what is happening at a cellular level in the body to affect the speed of ageing. He believes that premature ageing is an inflammatory disease which can be controlled by what we eat. He’s in good company. This advice chimes with much of the research I did when I was writing ‘Living the Life More Fabulous’. In study after study the way that the body deals with inflammation was given as one of the key factors in reducing damage which leads to chronic ill-health and an aged appearance. So, what is inflammatory disease? Put simply, it’s when the body’s natural healing process of inflammation turns harmful when it continues long after the original response. Chronic inflammation is an ongoing, destructive process which can occur everywhere in the body, and plenty of research indicates that it is a common trigger for and contributor to multiple common diseases. Common symptoms include body aches and pains, fatigue, frequent infections, gastrointestinal problems, depression and anxiety, dry eyes, shortness of breath, skin outbreaks and weight gain.
It was only when I stopped treating my (at times severe) outbreaks of acne rosacea as a whole body problem and not just a skin condition that I started to experience an improvement.
I’d always known that a binge of chocolate eating (say at Christmas and Easter) would trigger an outbreak of painful lumps on my face, so I started to look at my sugar intake overall and then to examine every part of my diet. I began to understand that my skin outbreaks were an indicator that my whole system was under stress and that the result was chronic inflammation. And the main culprits? Not many surprises here! Refined carbohydrates (white bread, white rice, pasta) and those foods we know are full of hidden sugar like fizzy drinks, juices, cakes, biscuits, pastry, and ready meals.
So, the ‘Facelift in your Fridge’ becomes those foods which contribute to, rather than take away, your health. Top of the list are sweet and savoury plant foods in as wide a variety of colours as you can find. Red, purple and blue berries, red and purple grapes, apples, kale, broccoli, yellow onions, juicy red tomatoes, green spring onions. All these foods contain flavonoids and/or carotenoids, a broad class of chemicals which give plants their colour. They are also especially high in anthocyanins and flavanols which are related to lower levels of inflammation. And when it comes to protein the very best anti-inflammatory food is oily fish which are high in omega-3s. Dr Perricone even suggests a 3 day salmon diet to be adhered to once a month, during which you eat salmon at every meal. For other sources of protein, he advocates tofu, tuna, cod, trout, turkey and goat’s cheese.
As the saying goes ‘the proof of the pudding is in the eating’.
Which is rather appropriate in my case because the eating of the pudding (treacle sponge, sticky toffee) most definitely proved to be the cause of my chronic acne rosacea. I am stunned by the improvement in my skin since I cut out all those deserts, chocolates, cakes, biscuits, diet coke, ready meals and white bread. Did I find it difficult to forego all those - to me - tempting goodies? To begin with I really craved the sugar-hit which a delicious piece of chocolate cake would deliver. Nothing ever tasted sweet enough which left me feeling dissatisfied with everything I ate. However, I persevered because my skin was rapidly improving and gradually, I became accustomed to predominantly savoury tastes. I also learnt a million and one ways to make salmon taste delicious! So, I am not saying that such a radical overhaul of my sugar intake was easy, but the results were too good to ignore.
I still get the occasional spot (invariably when I’ve grabbed a sandwich on the run) but most days my facial skin looks calm and untroubled. So, for me my facelift - or at least my spot free, hydrated and healthy looking skin - is to be found in my fridge and also on my bathroom shelf. I do my best to follow a diet which keeps the acne rosacea fully under control and the serum and moisturisers in the LFF skincare regime make sure that my skin looks and feels smooth, plump and hydrated. If I had been in that room full of middle aged women and asked the question ‘do you want to look younger?’ I’d have said “No, but I do want to look the very best that I can” and I now feel that I have found a way to achieve that with my vastly improved diet and my beautiful LFF skincare.