Saturday, November 28, 2009

Dark chocolate can help sun-protection but is not a sunscreen alternative

A study has revealed that a daily portion of dark chocolate could protect the skin against wrinkles caused by UV from the sun. However, experts advise that chocolate should not be considered an alternative to sunscreens.

The research, published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology by researchers at private Harley Street clinic European Dermatology, involved 22 women with an average age of 42. For a three-month period, half the volunteers consumed a daily portion of 20 grammes of dark chocolate droplets that were very high in flavanols, the antioxidants that naturally occur in cocoa beans.

The rest of the volunteers ate chocolate that looked identical but had lower flavanol content. The volunteers were regularly exposed to controlled doses of UV light to assess how long it took before their skin became inflamed. The results revealed that among those on low-flavanol chocolate, there was no change in the amount of UV light tolerated by their skin. For those with the high-content chocolate, there was a significant improvement in the skin’s resistance to the sun’s effects.

Researcher and dermatologist at the European Dermatology London Dr Stefanie Williams, said that consumption of high-flavanol chocolate should not replace topical application of sunscreens but should be used as an additional measure to help protect skin. She said, “At the moment we would not advise people to replace traditional sunscreens with consumption of antioxidant foods such as high-flavanol chocolate, but these two measures work well in concert and can be used together.”

Nutritionist Carina Norris explained that she didn’t believe that the amount of flavanols in chocolate would “give you any photoprotection worth speaking of”.
She added, “Any slight effect would be negligible, compared to, say, the photoprotection from a sunscreen.”

Norris warned against advising the public to compare the consumption of chocolate to the protective benefits of traditional suncreens. She said, “As a nutritionist, I’d be very wary of promoting the photoprotective properties of flavanols, in case people think they can get away with going without sunscreen, simply because they’ve eaten some high-flavanol chocolate.”The health benefits of dark chocolate have been publicised for some time, however, Ailsa Higgins, senior nutritionist at Champneys in Tring, commented that consumption needed to be in moderation. She said, “Too much chocolate will make you fatter, and to get real health benefits you need to eat quite a lot, everyday.

“However, as part of a healthy diet, a couple of squares of dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids) can make a little contribution to your health and pleasure.”

Kate Donovan, Laura McCreddie and Jenni Middleton

Advice to drink eight glasses of water is not backed by evidence

A study has revealed that drinking eight glasses of water a day as traditionally advised may not have the anti-ageing impact originally suggested.

The Food for the Skin review by the British Nutrition Foundation, says that a balanced diet and sunscreen are more important in preventing the signs of ageing such as wrinkles and that there is no firm evidence to back up the theory that eight glasses of water should be consumed a day in order to maintain youthful, vibrant looking skin.

Dr Laura Wyness, senior nutrition scientist at The British Nutrition Foundation, confirmed that although water has been presented in the popular press as the secret to healthy glowing skin, the scientific evidence to support such a statement is lacking. “Water is essential for life; the human body is made up of between 45 to 75% water, depending on body weight,” she said.

“Drinking water has the advantage of fulfilling hydration requirements without providing additional energy or adversely affecting dental health. There is however, little scientific evidence on the effects of water consumption on skin hydration, and the influence of drinking more or less water on the appearance of skin.” She said that more research in this area is required.

Wyness added that water can be obtained from both food and various drinks, not just plain water consumption. “We obtain water from all the foods and drinks we consume. The body has sophisticated systems for getting rid of toxins, and it is not necessary to consume excess water or other substances to enhance this process,” she explained. “A universal water intake recommendation that is applicable to all individuals is difficult to define as there are many factors that affect an individual’s need for water, such as environmental conditions, changing physical activity levels of the individual, their age, gender and body mass.”

Although individuals need to drink enough water to maintain body fluid, other factors are more important for the condition of the skin according to Carina Norris, registered nutritionist. “For example, most skin ageing is caused by sun damage, so your first consideration regarding keeping your skin looking good should be a sunscreen, not a glass of water,” she explained.

However, she added that nutrition does play a role in how skin looks and that someone eats a poor diet it does show in the skin condition. Norris stated, “Vitamins A and C are particularly important. Vitamin A is involved in maintaining your skin as a 'barrier' to the outside world, and vitamin C is needed to make collagen, which is responsible for the skin's resilience, and resistance to wrinkling. Vitamin E is also thought to play a role in skin condition.”

Eating fruit and vegetables also remain important to skin health according to Norris. “Some of the best 'skin foods' are fruit and vegetables,” she commented. “They're rich in vitamin C, as well as beta-carotene, which the body can use to make vitamin A. Nuts and seeds are good too, as they contain vitamin E.”

26 Nov 2009
Kate Donovan

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Best Xmas Gift Buy's

Our very own beauty guru's best buys.

Jubilee Vanity Bag - by Lavera
Sarah Says: Great value Xmas gift and very handy bag.

Minicure Gift Set - by Zoya
Sarah Says: Cute gift set and everything you need for a great manicure.

Essentials Kit - by Inika
Sarah Says: Everything you need for a mineral make-over and a glam bag to keep it in.

Hair & Body Gift Set - by John Masters
Sarah Says: A great starter set to experience the benefits of this professional organic range.

Passion to Garden Gift Set - by Essentially YoursSarah Says: Superb value gift for the keen gardeners.