Kale & Cocoa isn’t about how we’re ageing on the outside – we’re all about eating well to reduce our risk of age-related illnesses. But if a healthy diet in midlife means fewer wrinkles then BRING IT ON!
If you’ve read recent posts, you’ll know that I suffered a fracture in the summer and have been thinking about what that means for my bone density. I’ve been to my doctor to get a calcium and Vitamin D test, and I’m booked in for a Dexa scan to measure my bone mineral density. I’ll keep you updated on the results, and in the meantime I’m reading all I can. One piece of research I came across recently really struck me – there is a link between low bone density and wrinkles. The health of our bones is literally written on our faces.
A study of women in their late 40s and early 50s (chosen because that’s when a sudden drop in oestrogen causes high bone density loss – yeah yeah, it’s that M word again) found that those with the deepest wrinkles and least elastic skin had the lowest bone density. The wrinkles and crinkles were predictive of bone loss at all the commonly measured sites – hips, lumbar spine and heels – regardless of age, weight height etc.
It makes sense when you realise that both bones and skin are made of collagen (the main structural protein in our connective tissue). Our bones are highly mineralised but are still 50% collagen. So it’s no surprise that the same raw materials support the formation of both – and the same free radicals break them both down.
One of our lovely subscribers got in touch a couple of days ago about the Vitamin K2 with Vitamin D supplements she is taking to combat the risk of osteoporosis. I had to admit I’d never heard of Vitamin K2 but, of course, as soon as I’d read her email, Vit K2 started popping up all over the place. Not only is it good for bones, but it’s fantastic for skin. It’s hard to come by though – the richest dietary source is natto (no, me neither) a rather stinky, fermented soya bean dish traditionally eaten in Japan for breakfast. Its popularity is said to be the reason that Japanese women age with such peachy, firm skin. There are few other dietary sources, goose liver pate is one (bleurgh as far as I’m concerned), egg yolks are good, as is Gouda cheese. Some experts recommend upping K2 intake to ensure calcium supplements impact the bones, not the heart, and I’ve read some good reviews for Dr Kate Rheume-Bleue’s book ‘Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox’ which has just come out in paperback in the UK. My GP said that she’d discuss calcium supplements with me – and their pros and cons – when I get the results of my tests. I’ll be asking her about Vit K2 then.
So, if a VERY positive side effect of strengthening my bones is reducing wrinkles , what should I be eating (apart from natto, obviously)? Research published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science in 2013 showed that post-menopausal women given a cocktail of isoflavones, lycopene, Vitamin C, Vitamin E and Omega 3 had a marked reduction in their wrinkles after 14 weeks, and an increase in collagen. Isoflavones are the phyto-oestrogens found in beans, particularly soya (try our pea and soya bean salad) lycopene is found in watermelon and cooked tomatoes (last week’s gazpacho is perfect), Vitamin C in oranges, Vitamin E in avocados and omega 3s in nuts (our almond dipping sauce goes with everything) and oily fish (salmon pilaff is a current fave) – all Kale & Cocoa staples.
One foodstuff I’ve added to my list of faves recently is chia. These tiny seeds are nutritional power houses – with more anti-oxidants than blackberries or mango. They are also considered to be the world’s richest source of Alpha Linolenic Acid, an Omega 3 fatty acid our bodies cannot produce. So they are great skin food. Don’t overdo it though – more than a couple of tablespoons a day is a bit much. They need soaking in liquid for at least 15mins and they expand to make a gel like substance that takes other flavours very well. My favourite breakfast at the moment is to chuck a tablespoon of chia, a tablespoon of oats, a teaspoon of cinnamon and some berries into a tub with some (almond) milk. I take it to work and by the time I’m ready for breakfast al desko the seeds have swelled to absorb the milk. If I’ve got a bit more time I’ll make this gorgeous parfait for breakfast or a filling, but low sugar, pud. Sugar is death to collagen – causing the fibres to harden and leading to more of those dreaded wrinkles….
CHIA SEED PARFAIT (serves 1 – scale up for more)
- 1.5 tbs chia seeds
- 125ml milk – I like almond milk, but use anything you fancy
- 2 tbs natural yoghurt – coconut yoghurt is lovely and creamy
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp vanilla essence
- Handful of fresh berries or pomegranate seeds
Mix together the seeds, cinnamon, vanilla and milk. Make sure it’s well blended – the seeds can rise to the surface or clump together. Leave for a good half hour so the seeds can swell up. Layer half the chia seeds mix, then a tablespoon of yoghurt and half the berries or seeds. Repeat with the other half of the seeds, the remaining yoghurt and fruit. So simple and delicious!