It wasn't long ago when I sat in sheer amazement with my eyes glued to an episode of 20/20 that featured people in the village of Yuzurihara, Japan. I wanted to go there, I wanted to live like these people do and find out what kept them so young. Yuzurihara seemed like a true fountain of youth. Neither genetics, nor living a perfect lifestyle could explain the good health and youthful appearance of the people in this village that sits just 2 hours from Tokyo.
Some smoked, others labored outside for years without sunscreen and yet their skin looked as smooth as a baby's behind. Their sons and daughters who moved to America and adopted a Westernized diet looked older, developed obesity and other chronic health problems indicating that they didn't win the genetic lottery. So, it had to be something else and quite possibly their hyaluronic acid rich diet.
What Is Hyaluronic Acid?
Hyaluronic acid is a natural substance found throughout our body in synovial fluid, connective tissue and various other tissues.
How does hyaluronic acid minimize aging? First, it acts as a shock absorber in joint tissue helping our bodies withstand the impact of physical activity. Secondly, skin tissue loves hyaluronic acid. It helps minimize skin damage by modulating the skin repair process, promoting collagen synthesis and drawing water in which helps plump up skin tissue.
By enhancing skin volume, injectable forms of hyaluronic acid help smooth wrinkles temporarily (for months). It is such a good volumizer that facial fillers such as Juvaderm and Restylane are made from hyaluronic acid and some moisturizers contain hyaluronic acid.
Though it sounds great and our bodies produce it, as we age and with excessive sun exposure, skin cells may slow down the production of this anti-aging compound or simply change how it functions in the body.
Back to Yuzurihara, Japan, a village that consumes different foods than other areas in the country. Their diet is rich in potatoes such as satsumaimo, satoimo (sticky potatoes), the root vegetable konyaku and potato root imoji. According to the documentation, some scientists believe that these unique foods enhance the body's production of hyaluronic acid.
How can you enhance your body's production of hyaluronic acid? If scientists definitively knew the answer to this question, more people would eat their way to the fountain of youth instead of paying hundreds of dollars on facial fillers. But, since we don't know, you can do two things that may help:
- Visit your local Japanese market and pick up some of the diet staples consumed by the residents from Yuzurihara.
- Try a hyaluronic acid supplement.
Click To Enlarge.
In Yuzurihara Their diet Is Rich In Potatoes Such As Satsumaimo, Satoimo (Sticky Potatoes), The Root Vegetable Konyaku And Potato Root Imoji.
How Hyaluronic Acid Can Fight Aging
Alterations in hyaluronic acid change skin texture and appearance. Though skin aging is due to a multitude of factors, one thing is clear; there are structural changes that show on the outward appearance of skin. And, scientists postulate that changes in hyaluronic acid in the skin contribute to wrinkles and changes in elasticity.
Hyaluronic acid injections plump up skin and minimize the look of wrinkles. Several studies suggest that hyaluronic acid, when injected into the skin, can improve skin elasticity and decrease surface roughness thereby improving the overall appearance of skin tissue.
Additional Tips To Fight Aging
- Wear sunscreen that contains zinc or MexorylTM SX as its main active ingredient and wear it daily (UVA rays - the kind that cause wrinkling, penetrate clouds and glass—so even if you are driving in the winter you are exposed to UVA rays).
- Zinc is the only physical sunscreen that blocks the entire UV spectrum. MexorylTM SX has used for years in Europe, protects against the entire spectrum and is one of the best sunscreens for filtering UVA rays.
- Eat a wide variety of antioxidants. Every day scientists are learning about the potential for compounds in everything from green tea to raspberries. Some of these may protect skin against damage from UV rays so fill up on a rainbow of deeply pigmented foods.
- Cover up with clothing (clothes provide different levels of protection, a light t-shirt may only provide an SPF of < 15 whereas clothing specifically designed to filter UV rays may provide a SPF of 50).
- Invest in good sunglasses that have a label stating "100% UV absorption." After all, wrinkling around the eyes is a sure sign of aging. Opt for sunless tanners. Try retinoids or laser for already damaged skin.
Aging is a fact of life. However, how you look is largely due to how you take care of yourself as the years pass. Smoke, stay out in the sun, drink and eat a fast food diet and you'll likely look a lot older than your chronological age. However, if you take good care of the largest organ in your body, your skin, you may end up looking years younger than you are.
About the Author:
Marie Spano is a leading authority on translating the latest nutrition and exercise science research into real life applications. Ms. Spano has also helped pro athletes and Fortune 500 executives enhance their health and performance through sound nutrition practices. She is a regular contributor to bodybuilding.com.
For more information see: www.mariespano.com
- How do I protect myself from UV rays? American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org
- J Invest Dermatol 127:687-697. J Cosmet Dermatol 2009;8(3):216-25. J Invest Derm 1994;102: 385-389. Int J Derm 2007;33: 119-122.