When it comes to healthy eating, women often excel. They know the importance of fresh fruits and vegetables, critical in keeping the body young and healthy. But they do make two major mistakes - not eating enough protein and a strict avoidance of anything containing ‘fat.’

These two ‘avoidance behaviors’ are contributing factors in why women often look older than men of the same age. Men have a definite edge in that their much higher levels of testosterone also endow them with thicker skin, however, men also tend to consume much more protein than women.

If women do not eat enough protein every day (protein cannot be stored) the ongoing lack is first notable in the face. The facial features become soft looking. The sharp definition, contoured cheekbones, and crisp jaw line becomes blurred. This is the result of a depleted supply of protein in the body, forcing the body to feed upon itself. This causes both tissue and muscle to break down.

Other visible changes occur as well. In my practice, I have often seen this chronic, low grade, long-term protein starvation lead to a significant loss of skin tone on the body. Their breasts start to sag and show early signs of stretch marks.

But there is great news for the protein-deprived. In just a matter of weeks, on a diet with plenty of high quality protein, the skin firms up on both the face and body, with a visible lifting and improvement in skin tone and texture.

Selecting Quality Protein

Choose a high quality protein such as cold water fish, shellfish, lean organic free-range poultry, grass-fed beef or lamb, and eggs from free-range chickens. Ideally this will be present at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Vegetarians can add dishes made with quinoa. Mistakenly referred to as a grain, quinoa is actually a seed and related to both spinach and Swiss chard. Unlike the vast majority of vegetable protein sources, quinoa is a complete protein because it contains all nine of the amino acids. It is particularly rich in the amino acid lysine, critical to tissue growth and repair.

So next time you’re putting together a snack or meal be sure to make space for protein.

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