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The secret to timeless skin: Dr. Anthony Youn's guide to aging gracefully

As people age, their skin undergoes myriad changes, which often leads to concerns about maintaining a youthful appearance. Dr. Anthony Youn, plastic surgeon and author of the book “Younger for Life,” offered insights and practical advice on how to keep skin healthy and vibrant through the years.

The five pillars of autojuvenation

Youn introduced the concept of “autojuvenation,” which encompasses five key areas: diet, nutritional supplements, skincare and noninvasive treatments. He emphasized that focusing on these areas can help the majority of people avoid invasive procedures while being content with their appearance.

“Really looking at nutrient-dense foods is a big thing that you can do to help to slow down and even reverse the aging process,” he said.

Nutrient depletion: A hidden threat

One of the primary factors accelerating aging is nutrient depletion. Youn pointed out that modern agricultural practices have led to a significant reduction in the nutritional content of food. He referenced a study from 1950 to 1999 that found a notable decrease in key nutrients like Vitamin C, iron and protein in fruits and vegetables.

“This belief that our food isn't as nutritious as it used to be has been proven,” Youn said.

To combat this change, he recommended focusing on nutrient-dense foods to fill these gaps and support healthy skin.

The role of protein and collagen

Protein, especially collagen, is crucial in maintaining skin elasticity and thickness. Youn explained that collagen comprises 70-80% of the skin’s thickness, but people lose about 1% of their collagen annually starting in their mid-twenties, a rate that doubles for women post-menopause. Ensuring adequate protein intake, particularly from sources such as grass-fed beef, pastured poultry and wild-caught fish, can help preserve this vital skin component.

Combating inflammation and free radical damage

Inflammation and free radicals are significant contributors to skin aging. Acute inflammation, as seen with treatments like microneedling and chemical peels, can be beneficial for skin rejuvenation. Chronic inflammation, which is often driven by excess sugar intake, is harmful.

“Sugar consumption can cause chronic inflammation, damaging your skin via mechanisms like glycation, where sugar molecules bind to collagen and elastin fibers, causing them to become kinked and less effective,” Youn said.

Free radicals, another enemy of youthful skin, can be neutralized by antioxidants found in colorful fruits and vegetables. Applying antioxidants like vitamin C topically can also protect the skin from free radical damage.

The importance of cellular waste management

The buildup of cellular waste, often overlooked, can impair cell function and accelerate aging. Youn highlights autophagy, a process where the body recycles cellular waste, as essential for maintaining youthful skin. Intermittent fasting, which involves periods of not eating for at least 12 hours, can activate autophagy and rejuvenate the skin.

Nutritional tips for skin longevity

For those looking to eat their way to better skin, Youn suggested incorporating healthy sources of protein, anti-inflammatory foods and antioxidants into their diet. He recommended:

• Proteins: Grass-fed beef, pastured poultry, wild-caught fish.

• Healthy fats: Foods rich in omega fatty acids like salmon, tuna and sardines and in monounsaturated fats from olives, avocados, nuts and seeds.

• Fermented foods: To support gut health and reduce inflammation.

By adopting these dietary practices and focusing on nutrient-dense foods, individuals can significantly enhance their skin health and combat the signs of aging.

In his book, “Younger for Life,” Youn delved deeper into these strategies, providing readers with a comprehensive guide to maintaining youthful skin without the need for invasive procedures.

“It’s what you eat, when you eat, nutritional supplements, skincare and noninvasive treatments,” Youn said. “If you work on all five of those, you can be happy with your appearance and age gracefully.”

For those looking to preserve their skin’s youthful glow, Youn’s approach offers a holistic, scientifically backed pathway to achieving and maintaining healthy, vibrant skin through every stage of life.

Julie Reeder can be reached by email at [email protected].


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