Dr. Nicholas Perricone needs no introduction. He made a name for himself as the purveyor of healthy aging, extensively studying the benefits of an anti-inflammatory diet and developing his eponymous cosmeceuticals line. He has published 11 books and has been featured on goop and Oprah, just to name a few.
Your philosophy of ‘beauty from the inside out’ is so in line with ours-did you always have a holistic perspective on skincare? If not, what lead you to that mentality? During medical school and my three-year residency in dermatology, I made important connections between inflammation and disease. To learn about hundreds of skin diseases we studied in books, we also needed to recognize them in clinical examination and under a microscope.
When we examine inflammation under the microscope, it has an unmistakable appearance. To make it visible, we stain the slide. The inflammation shows as dark blue dots, like confetti—although the presence of inflammation is nothing to celebrate.
Quite the opposite.
This “confetti” is also present when we look at aging skin. I was puzzled about why this was occurring. Could inflammation be causing these changes? I began to consider wrinkles as a disease, since inflammation was present when damage to skin tissue resulted in wrinkles.Whenever I looked under microscope at everything from arthritis to heart disease, inflammation was always a component. Every disease I studied had a common theme, whether it was cancer or aging, inflammation was present.This inflammation is sub-clinical, invisible to the naked eye, but it goes on day after day, causing great damage.
I was convinced this was not a secondary response. I believed inflammation to be the key to the whole process of disease of every type. This led me to develop an inflammation-aging theory that is the basis of decades of my research. Thus began the quest for safe, effective anti-inflammatories that could stop, treat, and reverse the symptoms — without doing harm.
Because my field is dermatology, where signs of aging and disease are so very visible, I have made it my life’s work to intervene; to halt this inflammation; reversing its negative effects, internally and externally. Our diet can either be pro-inflammatory or anti-inflammatory and our food choices play a huge role in causing or stopping this inflammation. Therefore, understanding our food choices is vital if we want to lower inflammation, and it is our single most important step in the holistic approach to health and beauty. It is tier one of my three-tiered program.
How much water is optimal to consume on a daily basis? 6-8 glasses of pure spring water
What about supplements—what should we be adding to our routine? I recommend a variety of unique nutritional supplements in addition to the complete spectrum of vitamins and minerals recommended by nutrition experts world-wide, (B-complex, Vitamin E, calcium-magnesium, etc.). My research has shown that nutrients that possess anti-oxidant properties act as natural anti-inflammatories. This is important because anti-oxidants are Nature’s anti-inflammatories. Designed to work synergistically to enhance the benefits of the anti-inflammatory diet, these nutrients offer anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, fat metabolizing, and peptide boosting benefits and help prevent and reverse oxidative damage on a cellular level, of critical importance as we age.
Active ingredients recommended by in addition to those outlined above include:
- Alpha Lipoic Acid
- Vitamin C Ester
- DMAE (Dimethyl Amino Ethanol)
- Coenzyme Q-10
- Conjugated Linoleic Acid
- GLAL-Carnitine Fumerate
- N-Acetyl Carnitine
What’s the single worse thing that you can do to your body? (smoking, drinking, coffee—those kind of addictive activities?) Every day people ask me how they can look and feel better, increase energy, decrease stress, get a better night’s sleep and elevate their mood. The good news is that the answer is simple—and it starts with your next meal. Many of the mental and physical problems that we endure are caused by chronic invisible inflammation, We can’t see it, we can’t feel it but it goes on day after day, robbing us of our health and our youth. This inflammation is triggered by many things but one of the biggest triggers is our diet. I created the anti-inflammatory diet as the cornerstone of total rejuvenation in all organ systems—regardless of our age or physical condition.
Avoid pro-inflammatory foods and beverages to create visible beauty and health from the inside out.
How does exercise & fitness relate to beauty (both internal & external)? As you have no doubt heard hundreds –if not thousands, of times, exercise is vital for your health. There are mountains of studies proving that exercise can take off pounds, reduce incidence of heart disease, lower blood pressure, improve mood, solve sleep problems, and even cut the risks of certain cancers.
As a dermatologist, my first concern is beautiful skin, and exercise will help you to achieve just that. Studies have indicated that exercise benefits the skin in much the same way it improves bone and muscle quality. Without regular activity, bones become fragile and muscles atrophy. When the skin of athletes is examined under a microscope, the impact of their high fitness levels is clearly apparent. The skin is thicker and has more and healthier collagen, the fibers that give the skin its strength and flexibility.
Exercise of almost any kind has a powerful, positive, and anti-inflammatory effect on all our cells. Expending energy with exercise leads to increased vitality, but so many of us avoid exercise. For too many people, exercise is a chore, a long, painful, or rigorous process. This does not have to be true. Simple exercise, like a brisk walk each day, can make a tremendous difference in overall health and beauty. The benefits of exercise—the raised level of “feel good” endorphins in particular—can be addictive. In our stress-filled lives, exercise is a wonderful tension reliever. All of this contributes to a sense of well being, a higher metabolism, and increased strength. Once you begin a regular exercise program, you won’t know how you lived without it.
Don’t be afraid to work up a sweat. Exercise of almost any kind has a powerful, positive, and anti-inflammatory effect on all our cells. Although it might not sound glamorous or elegant, working up a good sweat is essential to good health and beautiful skin—in fact it is as important as eating, drinking and breathing.
Sweating has three critical functions: It enables the body to rid itself of wastes, it regulates body temperature and it keeps the skin clean and supple. Unfortunately many of us do whatever we can—often unwittingly, to inhibit the flow of sweat. We do this by using antiperspirants, by driving everywhere instead of walking, by maintaining a sedentary lifestyle in which the only body parts we use are our hands—either to flick the remote control or move the mouse.
Add in environmental pollutants and synthetic fibers that prevent skin from breathing and it is no surprise that we end up with clogged pores, and a dull, pallid complexion, plagued with breakouts or other skin problems.
30 to 45 minutes of aerobic exercise will enable your body to produce a healthy level of perspiration. This can be accomplished by simply walking or jogging, either on a treadmill or out of doors. However I don’t advise aerobic exercise in the hot sun. While this will jumpstart your sweating mechanism, it will also rapidly dehydrate the body and put you at risk for sunburn and heat-related conditions. Plan your outside activities before 10 AM or after 4 PM and seek out shady locations.
If the weather is sunny, hot and also humid, beware of any strenuous exercise. The humidity will interfere with your body’s ability to evaporate sweat as quickly as it should. Sweat is your body’s cooling mechanism and if we interfere with it, it can result in dangerously high body temperatures, leading to heat exhaustion or even heatstroke.
Proper hydration. Stay well hydrated. If you wait until you are thirsty to drink it is too little too late. A dehydrated body promotes the formation of aging, inflammatory compounds and it will slow down your metabolism.
What to Wear: Wear loose cotton clothing, preferably in light colors. This will allow sweat to evaporate. Use non chemical sunscreen, wear a hat with a brim and UV sunglasses.
For our girls on the go—what are the best ways to stay healthy while traveling? Traveling can be both a joy and trial. If we properly prepare for the trip, we can better endure the tribulations. Follow these important tips when you fly the friendly skies.
Carry a small carryon bag and fill it with the following:
- A good book to keep your mind active and pleasantly occupied
- Topical anti-oxidants containing DMAE to prevent water retention and puffiness in face and eye area
- A bottle of spring water
- Wholesome snacks such as unsalted nuts, fresh fruit, all natural sliced turkey or chicken, an omega 3 hard boiled egg and a small container of plain yogurt.
Flying can take a serious toll on the body—in fact, in some cases it can be deadly—and I am not talking about crashes, which fortunately are extremely rare. Know these important facts and ward off trouble before it starts:
- Blood clots can form in the lower legs from sitting for long periods in cramped spaces—such as coach or economy seating. Being pregnant, overweight or having varicose veins can increase the risk. Try to get up and walk around when possible.
- Wear loose clothing and comfortable clothes and shoes
- Don’t cross your legs
- Keep the area under your seat free so you stretch your legs and exercise your toes
- Limit alcohol consumption on long flights. Alcohol can dilate blood vessels and restrict blood flow.
- Drink plenty of water
- Avoid caffeinated beverages
- Avoid salty foods
- Take a high quality omega 3’s essential fatty acid fish oil supplement. These natural anti-inflammatories will help prevent blood clots. Take 3 capsules twice a day, the day before the flight. Take 3 capsules twice a day the day of the flight and take 3 capsules twice a day the day following the flight.
Try to use your air travel time to rest and regroup. If possible take a short nap. Try these tips to prevent fatigue and maintain hydration to keep skin from looking dull and tired:
- Take an anti-oxidant supplement such as Total Skin & Body, to prevent fatigue
- Bring a bag of snacks as described above a quick pick me up
- Avoid caffeine
- Avoid pro-inflammatory starches and sugars. The worst meal you can eat is coffee and Danish, which is guaranteed to cause fatigue
- Choose fish and fresh vegetables if offered.
- Pasta, bread, rice and other starchy foods will increase risk of jet lag and fatigue
- Drink plenty of bottled spring water to stay hydrated. I recommend at least 8 ounces every hour or two.
- Cantaloupe is excellent for helping keep skin hydrated from the inside out
- Apply an anti-oxidant rich moisturizer to face and hands
There are so many products out there now—what are the core products that 20 somethings should be using on a regular basis? (cleanser, moisturizer, eye cream, masks-more/less, etc.) Thanks to a plentiful supply of youth hormones such as estrogen, women in their 20’s should enjoy radiant, luminous skin, and shiny hair. If you maintain a healthy lifestyle, get enough sleep and don’t smoke, you should have abundant energy and will show rapid results with any fitness regime.
Unfortunately, many women in their teens and twenties do not protect their skin from excess sun exposure and often can be found on the beach or in tanning salons. This will rapidly age your skin—use a self tanner instead. Skin breakouts can still occur so be sure to keep skin clean, follow the anti-inflammatory diet and use oil-free products. Don’t forget the non-chemical sunscreen.
Acne or skin breakouts, which may have started as early as puberty may continue—especially right before a big date. This is because acne, which is a systemic inflammatory disease, is exacerbated by stress as well as a pro-inflammatory diet—that is, eating sugary, starchy foods, chips, etc. Collagen and elastin also begin to breakdown.
I recommend an exfoliating pore refiner, a brightening eye cream to reduce dark circles and accentuate eye contours, as well as a skin perfecting serum to decrease fine lines, uneven skin texture, visible pores, dryness and lack of radiance. Key ingredients include Alpha Lipoic Acid, DMAE and Vitamin C Ester.
You’re anti-botox—are there any non-invasive treatments you would recommend to 20 somethings? Microcurrent is excellent. Microcurrent facial treatments have been available in spas since the 1980’s. While these treatments have been wildly popular in Europe, they are now gaining ground here in the United States as spas seek to attract the Botox consumer. The catch phrase in the spa world currently is “Results-oriented treatments”. This represents a shift away from facials that pamper (while doing little to create meaningful improvement in client’s appearance) and an answer to the minimally invasive medical treatments that have come to dominate the market in the last few years.
What’s your view on meditation? Is it something that you practice & recommend? Yes I practice it and recommend it for everyone.
2015 was such a big year for the wellness industry—why do you think that a holistic perspective is catching on in a more mainstream way? Since my first book and PBS special The Wrinkle Cure I have been educating people about the link beauty and health. Historically, the beauty industry has been based on marketing and I am proud to say that I turned that idea on its head. We have educated consumers who care about science and are not going to be fooled in the same way that earlier generations were.
True beauty is radiant health. As a dermatologist, it has been my greatest joy conceptualizing, developing and creating topical treatments that can transform the skin. As a physician, Certified Nutrition Specialist and Master of the American College of Nutrition, my greatest joys have been formulating targeted nutrients while teaching people how to make the right food choices, for optimum beauty, health, happiness and longevity.”
As I have long told my patients, looking good and having a positive body image is not vanity – it is your road to a long, healthy and happy life. I am delighted that this idea is now being embraced by the mainstream.
What’s in store for you & Perricone MD for 2016? The introduction of several very exciting new technologies!
Text: Intro by Ava Donaldson