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What’s Important?

  1. Dietary interventions affect skin health and appearance by participating in metabolic processes, mitigating oxidative damage, and/or regulating the expression of cellular components that influence the integrity of skin structure.

  2. General recommendations for nutritional therapy include appropriate nutrient supplementation, calorie restriction, limitation of dairy products, and adequate protein intake in older adults. In certain situations, strategies such as intermittent fasting and epigenetic diets can confer benefits to overall health.

What’s New?

  1. Increases in the activation of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR)-1 signaling are significantly associated with acne occurrence and pro-inflammatory states.

  2. Acid-rich diets can induce protein catabolism that leads to protein derangement, sometimes described as hypercatabolic protein disarrangement (HPD) syndrome. HPD can manifest with muscle wasting, inflammation, and other symptoms that accelerate aging.

What’s Coming?

  1. Further research is needed to understand the limitations of foodborne supplements (e.g., storage, bioavailability, solubility) and to develop effective mitigation techniques.

  2. Large-scale controlled trials of non-soybean-related isoflavones are warranted in the continued study of nutrition and skin health.

Food is the only medicine that the average healthy individual requires on a daily basis. Indeed, more than 2,000 years ago, Hippocrates is said to have offered: “Let food be your medicine, and let medicine be your food.”1 It is from such a perspective—that good nutrition is a fundamental building block of good general health and healthy skin—that this discussion proceeds. Specifically, this chapter will focus on some of the key chemical components of a healthy diet that have been shown to impart benefits to the skin. In the process, cutaneous effects will be discussed in the context of vegetarianism, as well as the skin types of the Baumann Skin Typing System (BSTS). Attention will first be focused on the effects of diet on acne—the most common dermatologic condition—and, finally, on oral supplementation.

There is copious research underway now on the direct effects on health from the consumption or supplementation of various nutrients. A significant proportion of such work focuses specifically on the potential benefits delivered to the skin through the intake of certain foods or supplements. For instance, in 2003, a cross-sectional study of 302 healthy men and women collected data on serum concentrations of nutrients, dietary consumption of nutrients, as well as various cutaneous measurements (including hydration, sebum content, and surface pH). Results revealed statistically significant relationships between serum vitamin A, cutaneous sebum content, and surface pH as well as between skin hydration and dietary consumption of total fat, saturated fat, and monosaturated fat. The investigators concluded that such findings are evidence that the condition of the skin can be influenced by alterations in baseline nutritional status.2

In general, the ingestion of anti-aging ingredients combats skin aging in three ways. First, the peptides, essential fatty acids, and other metabolites contained in food enter the skin after absorption through the gastrointestinal system, where they participate in skin metabolism. Second, certain ingredients can reduce ...

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