Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Salmon May Be Best-Kept Beauty Secret

Forget about creams and serums for glowing skin, shinier hair and brighter eyes. Eat some salmon, sweet potatoes and spinach and get ready for the beauty to shine from the inside out, some experts say.
"Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce stress, fight depression, and boost mood, according to preliminary research," says Lisa Drayer, author of The Beauty Diet.
Drayer has identified foods that offer both beauty and stress-reduction benefits. The list also includes yogurt, blueberries, spinach, kiwis, tomatoes, oysters, sweet potatoes, walnuts, green tea and dark chocolate.
These foods provide various nutrients such as antioxidants and zinc, selenium, vitamin C and calcium.
Each food has varied beauty and stress-reduction benefits.

Foods Reduce Stress
Blueberries, for example, which are ranked No. 1 for antioxidant activity by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, contain anthocyanins that keep the collagen in the skin intact. They also offer a healthy dose of potassium, which helps lower blood pressure.
Drayer adds that one cup of plain, low-fat yogurt is also packed with both beauty and stress reduction benefits.
"It supplies about 450 milligrams of calcium -- an important beauty mineral associated with strong bones, good posture and a beautiful smile," she says. "And protein in yogurt serves as a building block for strong skin, hair and nails. But research also suggests that a high calcium intake can also help reduce the risk of PMS and alleviate stress-related PMS symptoms."
Other foods you may love have benefits: Chocolate contains feel-good chemicals. Green tea contains theanin, which promotes relaxation. Walnuts contain an amino acid that contributes to relaxation of the blood vessels.
"Brittle nails? Maybe you're suffering from an iron deficiency," Drayer says. "Dry skin? Perhaps you're not eating enough beauty-enhancing fats."

Stress Equals Ugly
Drayer says stress can also affect one’s appearance.
"Stress can contribute to wrinkles and may aggravate skin conditions including eczema and acne," she says. "Additionally, the effects of stress not only can show up in your face, but also around your middle."
Stress is often linked to overeating, so the selection of food is crucial, she says.
"If you’ve ever gone through half a bag of Hershey’s Kisses without realizing it, you know there is a link between anxiety and eating," she says.

Take Stress Eater Quiz
Another diet, the Stress Eater Diet, addresses those concerns directly.
"A stress eater is a person that uses food as a coping mechanism and reaches for food when they are anxious, upset or stressed," says Dr. Robert Posner, author of the Stress Eater Diet.
If you still wonder if you fit into this category, take a quiz at StressEaterQuiz.com.
"Stress can damage the body and the mind and ultimately cause death. It is important to manage stress wisely and not cope with food," says Posner. "A balanced diet will help keep the blood sugar stable and give the body the nutrients it needs to fight the stress and stay healthy while reducing overweight and obesity."

Tough Economy And Stress
Increasingly, people are trying to find comfort in food because of the economic climate, Posner says.
"Right now, 80 percent of Americans are stressed because of the economic downturn and the associated stressors of job security or loss, housing and stock market declines, healthcare concerns, rising prices, etc.," he says. "Close to 70 percent report an average of two sleepless nights per week. This program can provide a way for people to cope with stress and improve their health and their lives."
The diet also includes stress relieving exercises such as cardio and weight resistance and calming techniques such as deep breathing and mediation.
The key to not stress eating is eating foods that help boost serotonin levels, says Posner.
"Serotonin helps to balance mood and appetite," he says. "Low serotonin levels can cause more hunger and cravings as well as a depressed state known as the blues."
Foods that provide a lift include eggs, dairy, bananas, nuts, bread, rice, potatoes, turkey and meats.
Posner says both men and women can become stress eaters.
"The diet will help anyone with stress to understand why they are eating and help to change behaviors so they can eat more healthfully," he says.
The diet will help participants lose weight as well, but Posner says sometimes stress eaters may not necessarily have a weight problem.
"Yet they deal with stress through food and can get out of control at any time," he says. "This can lead to nutritional deficiencies, frequent illness, and long-term health issues like diabetes and heart disease."

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