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Tired of wasting hundreds of dollars on expensive wrinkle creams, drying lotions, and zit-zappers that just don’t work? Well listen up, ladies. To really get gorgeous, you’ve got to change the way you feed your face.
Cosmetics companies, women’s magazines—heck, even most doctors—will swear that food doesn’t affect the skin. But celebrity dermatologist Dr. Jessica Wu knows that’s just not true. After years spent battling her own pimple-prone, “problem” skin (not to mention caring for some of Hollywood’s most famous faces), she’s learned that what you eat has everything to do with the condition of your complexion.
Packed with patient testimonials, un-retouched before and after photos, and celebrity anecdotes from stars like Katherine Heigl, Maria Bello, Kimora Lee Simmons, and Lisa Ling, FEED YOUR FACE is an easy-to-follow, 28-day diet plan that will help you banish blemishes, wipe out wrinkles, shed unwanted pounds, and generally feel better—in your clothes and in your skin. Along the way, Dr. Wu will dish the dirt on her journey from Harvard Medical School to the glamorous Hollywood Hills, while offering realistic, practical beauty and diet advice for women of all ages.
Want to soften your crow’s-feet? Find out which foods will turn back time.
Plagued by pimples? Discover the snacks that will erase stubborn blemishes.
Did you know milk doesn’t always do a body good?
Feel a sunburn coming on? Learn why red wine may save your skin from peeling and flaking.
What does a hard-partying rock star eat for good skin?
So stop thinking about food in terms of what you can’t have: no butter, no red meat, no fat, and no flavor. Instead, discover the foods that will keep you feeling full and looking gorgeous. Follow the FEED YOUR FACE Diet, and you can have pizza. You can go out for Italian, indulge in Chinese takeout, and dine at The Cheesecake Factory (with the help of the FEED YOUR FACE Restaurant Guide). Because you do have the power to change your skin. All you have to do is eat.
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Dr. Jessica Wu is a graduate of Harvard Medical School, an Assistant Clinical Professor at USC Medical School, and a board-certified dermatologist. When she's not helping Hollywood's A-list get red-carpet ready, she's dishing up advice as the Skin and Beauty Expert on EverydayHealth.com, and spilling skin care secrets on national television shows such as The Doctors, Good Morning America, Entertainment Tonight, and E! Entertainment Television. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband.
FEED YOUR FACEGetting to Know Your Skin
A few years ago a young father of three came to my office with what he thought was a rash. He was a strong, sturdy guy--a construction worker--with no health problems to speak of except for this persistent itch that was keeping him up at night. His pharmacist gave him oatmeal baths, his wife bought him all sorts of lotions and creams, but nothing worked. Even as we talked, he scratched and scratched and scratched, but when I examined him, I couldn't find any rash. All the marks on his skin were self-inflicted, left over from his fingernails digging into his flesh.
There are all sorts of reasons for why someone might develop "itching of unknown cause," but it's a long and scary list (think liver problems, cancer, etc.). I didn't want to freak the poor guy out--at least not without knowing anything for sure--so we took some blood, I wrote a prescription for a soothing cream, and we sent his sample out for tests.
The next day I got a call from the lab. This was not good news: The lab never calls unless something is seriously wrong. As fate would have it, the young man was in full kidney failure and very, very sick. I referred him to an internist who put him on dialysis that very same day. And all he had was an itch.
It is not my intention to scare the living daylights out of you here but, rather, to point out a simple fact: Your skin is important. It's not just what keeps your insides in; how it looks is an indicator of your overall health, and it's often the first (and sometimes the only) sign of serious illness elsewhere in the body. If your liver is in bad shape, you'll get jaundice (you'll turn yellow). Pale skin and hair loss are often the first signs of anemia. People with lung disease can appear pale and sallow (because they're not getting enough oxygen to the skin). Crash dieters can look gaunt, as if their skin were sagging. In fact, every time you visit a doctor--any doctor, not just a dermatologist--he or she checks out your skin as part of the overall examination. Taking care of your skin is a big part of keeping your whole body healthy.
Here's the good news: Getting beautiful, healthy skin doesn't have to be time-consuming, expensive, or intimidating. You don't have to forgo getting a great tan. You don't have to stop wearing makeup. And you definitely don't have to keep Olga, the Russian facialist, on speed dial. But before we can talk about looking good, we have to talk about how the skin--your body's largest organ--works. Here's a look at what's really going on in there.
It's Aliiive! Your Skin is Living and Breathing
Just as your digestive system takes in food, processes nutrients, and gets rid of waste, your skin takes in nutrients from the blood, produces by-products (such as oil and dead skin cells), and sends what it doesn't need back into the bloodstream. For this reason we say it has its own metabolism, and how it functions is directly related to the fuel it receives (i.e., the food you eat).
Your skin is also what we call a microbiome; it's teeming with microorganisms, most of which are invisible to the naked eye. Even when you think you're clean (like right after a long, hot shower), you still have bacteria, fungus, yeast, and parasites living on and in your skin (gross, but true). They're supposed to be there, of course, and normally they all live in harmony, but when that delicate balance gets disturbed (by hormone fluctuations or changes in your diet, for example), one component overgrows, and your skin reacts. Rosacea, acne, and many rashes are caused, at least in part, by bacterial overgrowth or imbalance.
Hey, Dr. Wu
Q: So, how many skin-care products do I really need?
A: Two to three products--tops--should do the trick: a cleanser, sunscreen (typically in the form of a moisturizer with SPF), and a treatment of some kind in the evening, depending on your particular needs.
Over the years I've come to realize that skin care basics often confuse people the most. In fact, the majority of questions I receive from my online newsletter are about the simple stuff, such as the proper way to wash one's face or what to look for in a moisturizer. That's why I'll be sharing tips and tricks, as well as specific product recommendations, along the way.
Is it Hot in Here? Your Skin Controls Your Core Temperature
The skin maintains your core temperature of 98.6°F by controlling the amount of water that evaporates from your body. The evaporation of water from the skin is what cools you down. If it's very cold outside, you won't sweat as much because your body is conserving heat. On the flip side, if it's really warm outside, your body increases perspiration (obviously); as the water evaporates from your skin, you cool off. That's why people who live in dry heat don't feel as uncomfortable as people who live in more humid parts of the country. It could be 110 degrees outside, but if you're in, say, Arizona, the sweat on your skin will evaporate quickly because the air is dry. On the other hand, if you're in south Florida, it might be only 85 degrees, but there's already so much water in the air that the sweat evaporates much more slowly. It's like being in a steam shower--sticky and uncomfortable.
Were you to lose large areas of your skin--in a fire, for example--you'd also lose your ability to regulate your internal temperature. That's why burn victims have to be wrapped from head to toe and kept in warm beds. There's a huge risk of developing hypothermia when you can't prevent water loss or hold in heat. That is also why a serious sunburn (as in second degree or worse, when the skin blisters and peels off) can make you shiver and shake.
Skin Enemy #1: Inflammation
Your skin is an important part of the immune system--it is the first line of defense against outside "intruders" such as bacteria, allergens, and foreign objects (like dirt or splinters). When the skin is breached by one of those unwelcome guests, your body sends a rush of investigative immune cells to the affected area, triggering inflammation in the form of redness, heat, and swelling. That is why your eyes will puff up during allergy season, why you'll spike a fever if you have an infection. Typically, your body's natural immune response is temporary. Once you've recovered from any trauma, infection, or allergy, the associated redness and swelling will subside. For some people with imbalanced immune systems, however, that inflammation never really dies down; and the longer their body stays inflamed, the worse it is for their health.
Recently, chronic inflammation has become a hot topic in the medical world as more and more studies suggest that it's a root cause of conditions ranging from heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer's to osteoporosis and other diseases associated with aging. Doctors now think that cardiovascular disease, for example, is caused in part by inflammation of the arteries, not just an accumulation of plaque. Long-term inflammation can damage healthy tissue, including your arteries (leading to atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries) and your joints (causing arthritis).
Inflammation is also a hallmark of skin conditions such as acne, eczema, psoriasis, rashes, and even sunburn. And while you might be tempted to think of acne as a form of infection (due to the pus), it is really your body's inflammatory response that produces redness, swelling, and whiteheads. In fact, a number of the antibiotics we use to treat acne are prescribed not for their ability to kill bacteria (the dosage is too low) but to reduce inflammation.
Learning how to manage and prevent inflammation is important for your overall health and is essential for maintaining the health of your skin. And one of the most effective tools in regulating and preventing inflammation is--you guessed it--eating the right foods. Altering your diet can help modulate the effects of inflammatory conditions such as eczema and acne as well as help slow the signs of aging. Keep reading. I'll show you how.
Your Skin is the Body's Main Source of Vitamin D
Back in the early 1900s a childhood disease called rickets, which leads to softening of the bones and skeletal deformations, was a growing national problem. Hundreds of thousands of children, particularly in the industrialized cities of the Northeast, suffered from bowed legs and weak, crumbling teeth. It wasn't until the 1930s, when the government started fortifying milk with vitamin D, that rickets all but disappeared.
Vitamin D is extremely important not only in preventing rickets in children (and osteoporosis in adults) but for bone health in general (it helps your body absorb calcium from the GI tract) as well as muscle function and reduction of inflammation. Studies show that vitamin D may even help prevent both breast and skin cancer; however, there are only a few ways to get vitamin D in the body. Some foods (including milk, egg yolks, salmon, and tuna) and nutritional supplements are two ways, but the largest source by far comes from a chemical reaction that begins the minute we walk outside.
Our skin naturally contains something called 7-dehydrocholesterol. When exposed to UVB rays from the sun, this organic molecule magically becomes--drum roll, please--vitamin D. Here is where things get complicated: A small but vocal group of doctors are convinced that vitamin D deficiency is fast becoming a public health epidemic again. (Indeed, some studies have shown that rickets, once considered a thing of the past, is on the rise.) One possible cause? A lack of direct sun exposure. The idea is that once we all got hip to the dangers of UV light (burning, premature aging, age spots, and skin cancer, to name a few), we stopped getting enough sun to produce adequate levels of vitamin D. That's a pretty controversial notion.
Before you slather on the baby oil, you should know that studies have shown that regular use of sunscreen does not significantly interfere with your body's ability to produce vitamin D. There is also no consensus as to what constitutes an adequate level of vitamin D, and the ideal amount may be different for different people. If you're concerned about getting enough, talk to your doctor about taking a supplement. But please, don't sit in the sun unprotected. Also, skip the tanning beds altogether, which emit mostly UVA rays anyway. (Remember, it's UVB rays that produce vitamin D.)
Skin Enemy #2: UV Radiation
We all know that too much sun can make your skin look like a vintage leather handbag or, worse, like Magda, the scary lady from the Ben Stiller/Cameron Diaz hit There's Something About Mary. But UV damage is more than just aesthetic. The sun's rays penetrate deep into the skin--all the way down to your DNA. Recent research shows that UV radiation can temporarily alter the function of white blood cells, meaning that even mild sunburns can suppress the immune functions of the skin. And if you've had sunburns in the past (who hasn't?), you're already at greater risk of developing melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer. That's why both the American Academy of Dermatology and the American Medical Association recommend staying out of the sun between 11 AM and 2 PM as well as wearing sunscreen and protective clothing when you're outdoors. It is also why most dermatologists equate sunbathing with devil worship. But I'll let you in on a little secret: I like being tan. Having some color makes me feel taller, thinner, healthier, and more beautiful. UV light can even guard against seasonal affective disorder (SAD), better known as the winter blues.
That is why I'm not going to tell you to stay indoors during the day or to wear long sleeves in the summer. In my experience the less realistic the advice, the less likely you are to follow it. For example, when my osteopath told me the only answer to chronic hip pain was to ditch my high heels for flats, I told her to forget it. There's no way I'm giving up my four-inch platforms. (Besides, my husband is 6'2", and I want to be able to look him in the eye!)
The thing is, you don't have to wear a burka to be safe in the sun. Certain foods--green tea and tomatoes in particular--have been shown to boost your skin's ability to fight UV rays and sunburn, so incorporating them into your diet, especially before you hit the beach or spend an afternoon on the tennis courts, can improve the protection you'll get from sunscreen alone. For much more info on sun damage, UV-fighting foods, and even fake tanning tips, turn to .
Your Hair and Nails Are Part of the Skin
You may not have realized it, but your hair and nails are part of the skin, so problems ranging from dandruff to hair loss to ingrown nails should be treated by a dermatologist. More often than not, women will seek the advice of a stylist when they notice thinning hair (and end up spending a fortune on products like Kérastase, an uber-expensive professional-grade product line). Or, when they notice thickened or splitting nails, they'll head directly to a nail salon. (A manicurist might be great with acrylics, but could unknowingly file down the fungus and spread it to other clients. Gross.)
Just as your diet can affect the appearance and health of the skin, what you eat can affect the health of your hair and the look of your manicure. There's more: If your body is deprived of certain nutrients (as a result of, say, crash dieting), it bypasses "nonessential" functions such as making hair and nails and directs what nutrients it does receive to more important organs, like your heart and brain. That is why it's so important to feed your body the right kinds of foods--unless, of course, you want to look like Mr. Clean. (Get it? He's bald!)
Your Skin Is a Reflection of Yourself
Perhaps the most important function of the skin is also the easiest to understand. I mean, hell-o! The skin is your body's largest organ. It's what your man touches when he caresses your leg or kisses your neck. It's the first (and sometimes only) thing we see when we look in the mirror.
Waking up with clear, smooth skin is like having a good hair day: It can make you feel confident and sexy. But wrinkles, blemishes, and sun spots can have the opposite effect: They can sabotage your self-esteem. That's why my role as a dermatologist is not unlike being a therapist. Many of my patients come in down on themselves, depressed about how they look. Whether it's the teenager with acne who is slumped and slouched and has her hair in her eyes or the woman with sun damage who is too embarrassed to wear a strapless dress because of the blotches on her chest, my message has always been the same: You don't have to live with skin you don't like.
FROM THE FILES OF Dr. Wu
Patient: Anna Liza
Skin Concern: Mild to severe acne
Food Sensitivity: Dairy
In Anna Liza's Words: As a busy financial executive I spend a lot of time in airports as well as entertaining clients across the country. While I usually experience mild breakouts associated with my menstrual cycle, my acne always gets worse when I travel. I also had been suffering from chronic pain in my lower abdomen for five long years. I had seen three different specialists, each of whom ordered a battery of tests, but none could pinpoint the problem.
When Dr. Wu first gave me the Feed Your Face Diet--and told me to avoid dairy products--I balked. My husband is French, and we both enjoy wine and cheese. Still, I figured it was worth a try. Ten days later my skin was definitely calmer, and I'd had no new breakouts. One month later my skin was smooth and clear, and the painful cysts were gone completely. But what real...
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Book Description St. Martin's Press. Hardcover. Condition: New. 0312630778 Ships promptly from Texas. Seller Inventory # Z0312630778ZN
Book Description St. Martin's Press, 2011. Hardcover. Condition: New. New item. May have light shelf wear. Seller Inventory # 170321205
Book Description St. Martin's Press, 2011. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0312630778
Book Description St. Martin's Press, 2011. Hardcover. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX0312630778
Book Description St. Martin's Press. Hardcover. Condition: New. 0312630778 New Condition. Seller Inventory # NEW7.0092229