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If you want younger, better looking skin, think beyond the sunscreen (but use that too) and tinker with your diet. “Good nutrition is a fundamental building block of healthy skin,” says Leslie Baumann, MD, a dermatologist in Miami Beach. The natural ingredients in food help do everything from speed the pace of exfoliation to protect skin from the UV damage that causes brown spots and wrinkles. Here, 7 everyday foods that are guaranteed to make you glow.
1. Romaine Lettuce
Why You’ll Glow: Six leaves provide more than 100% of your DV of vitamin A, which revitalizes skin by increasing cell turnover. The mineral potassium in romaine “gives skin a refreshing boost of nutrients and oxygen by improving circulation,” says Lisa Drayer, RD, author of The Beauty Diet.
Health Bonus: That same serving of romaine contains 45% of the DV of vitamin K, which a recent study shows activates a protein that supports vascular health–making a future with bulging leg veins less likely.
Why You’ll Glow: Eating red helps keep skin from turning red. Volunteers who consumed 5 tablespoons of high-in-lycopene tomato paste daily for 3 months had nearly 25% more protection against sunburn in one study. Even better, skin had more collagen, which prevents sagging. Another reason to toss an extra tomato into your salad: German scientists report that higher skin levels of this antioxidant correlate to fewer fine lines and furrows.
Health Bonus: Research suggests that lycopene may also lower your chances of heart disease: In one study, women with the highest levels of it had a 34% reduced risk.
Why You’ll Glow: A cup has up to 130% of the DV of vitamin C, a potent antioxidant that boosts production of collagen fibers that help keep skin smooth and firm. More C may mean fewer fine lines too: Women with lower intakes were likelier to have dry, wrinkled skin. Early research also shows that ellagic acid, an antioxidant abundant in strawberries, protects the elastic fibers that keep skin from sagging.
Health Bonus: Strawberries may lower your risk of cancer by inhibiting the development of malignant cancer cells. In one study, people eating the most strawberries were 3 times less likely to develop the disease.
Why You’ll Glow: Quercetin, an antioxidant in the peel of many varieties, provides hefty protection from the “burning” UVB rays that trigger skin cancer. A few offering the biggest dose: Monroe, Cortland, and Golden Delicious.
Health Bonus: Eating two or more apples a week for 1 year reduced the risk of dying from heart disease by 15% in one study of 34,000 healthy postmenopausal women. Whatever variety you choose, be sure to eat the peel, the source of nearly all the antioxidants.
Why You’ll Glow: Lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants found in eggs, more than quadrupled protection against the UV damage that leads to lines, brown spots, and cancer in one study on women. Skin was also markedly softer, firmer, and better hydrated.
Health Bonus: Eating just one egg a day significantly increases blood levels of lutein and zeaxanthin (but not cholesterol), which may stave off macular degeneration by protecting the retina from light damage, finds a study in the Journal of Nutrition.
Why You’ll Glow: “Eating a handful of almonds every day boosts levels of vitamin E, one of the most important antioxidants for skin health,” says Baumann. You’ll get a surge in moisture too–a boon for those prone to dryness.
Health Bonus: Though nuts are high in calories, women who ate them at least twice a week were less likely to gain weight than those who rarely did, in a new study of over 50,000 women.
Why You’ll Glow: These nuts are storehouses of alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fat that’s a key component of the lubricating layer that keeps skin moist and supple. A 1/2-ounce serving of walnuts provides 100% of the recommended daily intake of ALA.
Health Bonus: Eating walnuts at dinner may deliver better shut-eye. Researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center discovered that walnuts contain melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep.
More Skin and Beauty Tips from Prevention
[photo credit: Getty Images]
Acupuncture is a traditional medicine that’s been practiced in China and other Asian countries for thousands of years. Its proponents say it can do everything from relieving pain to bringing a general sense of wellness. Others think the only benefits you get from acupuncture are in your head. Recent studies have found that both sides may have a point. Acupuncture can be effective for certain health problems, such as some types of chronic pain. But how it works is something of a mystery.
Acupuncture is the stimulation of specific points on the body. The methods can vary, but the most well known type in the United States is the insertion of thin metal needles through the skin. At least 3 million adults nationwide use acupuncture every year, according to the latest estimates.
Acupuncture is part of a family of procedures that originated in China. According to traditional Chinese medicine, the body contains a delicate balance of 2 opposing and inseparable forces: yin and yang. Yin represents the cold, slow or passive principle. Yang represents the hot, excited or active principle. Health is achieved through balancing the 2. Disease comes from an imbalance that leads to a blockage in the flow of qi—the vital energy or life force thought to regulate your spiritual, emotional, mental and physical health. Acupuncture is intended to remove blockages in the flow of qi and restore and maintain health.
Researchers don’t know how these ideas translate to our Western understanding of medicine, explains Dr. Richard L. Nahin of NIH’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. But the fact is that many well-designed studies have found that acupuncture can help with certain conditions, such as back pain, knee pain, headaches and osteoarthritis.
“In many research studies, it’s clear that if you’re comparing acupuncture to usual care, the acupuncture group almost always does better,” Nahin says. The problem, he explains, is that when researchers have compared acupuncture to carefully designed “control” treatments, the picture becomes more complicated.
Well-designed clinical trials need control groups—people who get a sham or simulated treatment called a placebo. Placebos might come in the form of a sugar pill or a saline injection. They give researchers something to compare the real treatment with. But designing a placebo for acupuncture is a challenge.
“I don’t really think you can come up with a great placebo needling,” says Dr. Karen J. Sherman, an NIH-funded acupuncture researcher at Group Health Research Institute in Seattle.
For example, when researchers have compared inserting needles with just pressing a toothpick onto acupuncture points, they’ve often found both treatments to be successful. But Sherman questions whether these are really controls. Many traditional acupuncturists would consider them true treatments, too. The important thing, in their view, is to hit the right spot, not necessarily how deep you go.
Another option for a placebo would be to test a different location. But Sherman says that would be inappropriate for treating pain because acupuncturists traditionally needle tender points. “To me, there’s no place on the back, if you have back pain, where you can say you have a great control,” Sherman says, “so I don’t think that’s a really solid idea.”
Further complicating things is that acupuncture treatments are about more than just needles. “There’ll be needles,” Sherman says, “but there’ll probably be other things they do in the course of the treatment. Acupuncturists will talk to you in a particular way. They might give you dietary advice or exercise advice that stems from a non-Western theoretical construct. They’ll try to engage you in your own healing. They might give you a different model for thinking about your health.”
“It’s hard to design placebo-controlled studies of acupuncture when we don’t understand what the active component of the intervention is,” explains Dr. Richard E. Harris, an NIH-funded researcher at the Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Treatment for pain is the best-studied aspect of acupuncture. Many parts of the brain are connected in the processing of pain, and how much pain you feel partly depends on context. “If a person has an injury in battle, they might not feel it,” Sherman explains, “but if they have a similar injury just walking down the street, they might just think it was dreadful.”
“If you look at some of the data, what you find is that sham acupuncture and true acupuncture both produce some pain relief in whatever condition they’re looking at,” Nahin says. “But while both treatments turn on areas of the brain, they turn on different areas of the brain.”
Harris and his colleagues, in studies of fibromyalgia patients, have found differences at the molecular level as well. “We were able to show that sham acupuncture and real acupuncture both reduced pain in fibromyalgia patients equally,” he says, “but they do it by different mechanisms.”
If acupuncture truly works by a different mechanism than sham acupuncture, Harris says, then they’re not the same thing, even if they both help relieve pain. Harris and others are now trying to get to the bottom of what acupuncture is actually doing. Their ultimate goal is to see if other treatments might pair well with acupuncture to reduce pain better than either alone.
Should you try acupuncture? Studies have found it to be very safe, with few side effects. If you’re thinking about it, talk to your doctor. “We tell people they really need to talk to their primary care provider and discuss whether acupuncture is a viable option for them,” Nahin says. “While you could go to an acupuncturist independent of a medical practitioner, we feel that an integrated approach to care is always the best approach.”
“Find somebody who’s dealt with your problem before,” Sherman advises. “Talk to the practitioner about your specific situation and then see if it’s something you can live with because it might not be the right treatment for you.”
- August 25, 2010
Acupuncture is one of the key components of traditional Chinese medicine, which has been practiced in China and other Asian countries for thousands of years. It involves penetrating the skin with thin metallic needles at specific points on the body to encourage healing, relieve or prevent pain or improve bodily functions. Most people feel no pain when acupuncture needles are inserted.
Benefits People use acupuncture for various types of pain. There is some evidence that acupuncture may be an effective treatment for lower back pain, nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy, neck disorders and headache. Acupuncture treatment may take place over a period of several weeks or more.
More info from Chatelaine
Common alternative therapies – massage therapy
Acupuncture Foundation of Canada Institute
Acupuncture is a method of encouraging the body to promote natural healing and improve function. This is done by inserting sterilized, stainless-steel needles (that are as fine as a human hair) into specific points located near or on the surface of the skin which have the ability to alter various biochemical and physiological conditions in order to treat a wide variety of illnesses.
Traditional Chinese Medicine views a person as an energy system in which body and mind are unified, each influencing and balancing the other. Unlike Western medicine which attempts to isolate and separate a disease from a person, Chinese Medicine emphasizes a holistic approach that treats the whole person.
Your practitioner will make a Chinese medical diagnosis based upon a thorough examination and consultation. The examination includes the assessment of the pulse and tongue. Once a diagnosis is made, your acupuncturist will choose the most appropriate acupuncture points for treatment.
Qi – The basic foundation for Oriental medicine is that there is a life energy flowing through the body which is called “Qi” (pronounced chee). This energy flows through the body on channels known as meridians that connect all of our major organs. According to Chinese medical theory, illness arises when the cyclical flow of Qi in the meridians becomes unbalanced or is blocked.
Acupuncture points are areas of designated electrical sensitivity that have been shown to be effective in the treatment of specific health problems. They have been mapped out by the Chinese over a period of over 2000 years.
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