Take a moment to count the beauty products you currently have in your bathroom cupboard that you bought for the sole purpose of keeping your skin looking healthy, plump and youthful.
Now, open your fridge and take note of all the items in there that have been bought specifically with your youthful visage in mind. None? We’re not surprised.
We are all pretty clued in on the skin care ingredients that can help prevent and fight the common signs of ageing, but it turns out we should be looking at our diet as well. Yep, the types of food we consume and some of our eating habits could be impacting our skin and how it ages, says nutritional biologist and L’Oréal For Women in Science 2019 Fellow Dr Samantha Solon-Biet.
Dr Solon-Biet has long studied the connection between nutrition and things like metabolic health, reproduction, appetite, and ageing, and has found that what we do (or don’t) eat can have an impact that extends beyond weight gain or loss.
Some of things that could be contributing to you ageing faster? “Things like a high-calorie or high-protein intake over the long-term is associated with pro-ageing effects and increasing these hallmarks of ageing,” says Dr Solon-Biet. “We definitely know that the high-protein diet paleo works for fat loss and increasing lean mass. We know that’s true and it has been known for a very long time; but we don’t know what the long-term consequences are because no longevity studies have been done in humans for obvious reasons. But if you look at the population data, within the last two years there is a really strong association between increased protein intake and death.”
Now, before you swear off protein for good, it’s worth noting that a) high amounts of protein are actually needed at certain times in your life (Dr Solon-Biet says when you’re young, as well as in older age so you don’t become frail), b) every single person has a unique protein set point that can help determine what you need to eat to feel satisfied, and c) it’s not just about changing the amount of protein you eat to ensure you age slower.
“No single food can turn these switches on and off,” she says. “Too-rich carbohydrates in the form of pure sugar is also going to turn on pro-ageing.”
“Without going into specific meal plans – which should be done with a dietician – as a generalisation, having diets rich in whole-foods and fibre can really push us into longevity mode. When done right, these foods will be diverse and can be [consumed] in combination with low-to-medium amounts of lean protein, [along with] things we already know are good for us: fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, whole grain and, of course, minimal processed food or added sugar.”
And interesting as this may all be, even more interesting is Dr Solon-Biet’s next research project – investigating maternal nutrition, specifically the protein intake during pregnancy and how it can influence obesity in a child. It’s no surprise she’s been named one of L’Oréal For Women in Science’s Fellows. The program (which launched in 1998 overseas and in 2007 in Australia) is about promoting and highlighting the incredibly important role of women in science, with an overall goal to increase participation and presence. Each year the program recognises the achievements of female scientists in the early stages of their career and awards them with fellowships to help further their research. You can find out more about the For Women in Science program here.
Did you know that your diet could affect the rate at which you age?
Main image: @poosh