Dr. Ayala's Blog

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Dr. Ayala

Dr. Ayala
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
V.P. Product Development
Herbal Water
I’m a physician (Pediatrics and Medical Genetics), artist, and mother of 3 school age active kids. I recently co-founded Herbal Water Inc. (www.herbalwater.com) with my husband, Albert. I am a serious home cook, and love to entertain. My expertise is vegetarian food (I have been a vegetarian all my life). I strongly believe that eating healthy and enjoying good food go hand in hand. My main interests are science, nutrition and art, and I am overall a very curious person that tries to learn something new every day. Dr. Ayala (Ayala Laufer-Cahana M.D.)


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MARCH 21, 2012 7:35AM

Can fruits and veggies improve your complexion?

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Fruit and vegetables 009

I used to chuckle when I heard moms urge their daughters to eat tomatoes for rosy cheeks. Old wives' tale, so, I thought, and by that logic would I turn greener with kale? I was a little less sure of my dismissiveness when my own palms turned an orangey tint when I went heavy on my carrots, and was totally humbled when I met my first pink flamingoes.

Beauty from the garden’s bounty

new study in the scientific journal PLoS ONE followed 35 students for 6 weeks looking at how fruit and veggie intake affects skin tone, as measured by a spectrophotometer (an instrument that measures the spectrum and photometric intensity of each wavelength present, and in this case of visible light). 

The researchers, led by Ross Whitehead, found that measured skin tone correlated with reported changes in the diet: eating more fruits and veggies increased skin redness and yellowness, and these skin color changes where achieved with a relatively modest increase of fruit and veggie intake – adding about 4 servings did the trick.

In a second part of the study, the researchers asked 24 students to rank face’s health appearance and attractiveness when these faces were manipulated to take on the hue change seen under low fruit and veggie diet as opposed to a fruit and veggie rich one.  The experiments showed that the faces with the skin color associated with high fruits and veggie intake were perceived as more appealing and vibrant.

Carotenoids and blood perfusion

This study, and others before it, show that we prefer rosy, slightly flushed, lightly yellow-toned skin -- perhaps because it sends a signal of healthfulness -- and pigments from the fruit and vegetables in our diet seem to impart just the right tone to our complexion.

Fruit and veggie pigments, such as lycopene and carotenoids, make their way into the skin and change its hue. Fruits and veggies may also change skin’s blood perfusion. 

Skeptical of this small study’s results? We are what we eat, and food affects health in a profound way. There are many reasons to eat your veggies, but if you find the beauty-from-a-tomato argument effective, I’d consider this study support to use it as needed.

Dr. Ayala


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Thank you for the reminder! I always feel better when I eat healthy but often slip back into old habits.
very interesting. have you seen the nigella lawson vs gillian mckeith meme that has been going around?
@Nicole Trilivas: the Gillian McKeith vs. Nigella Lawson visual is eye catching (and offensive, I think), but trying to make an epedimiological point through an uncontrolled two-people sample is totally silly.

And one of the most important factors affecting skin aging has nothing to do with food or smoking -- it's sun exposure.