The holidays are happening. Yes, the world is in pretty rough shape right now but the calendar marches on and therefore we are challenged with figuring out how to navigate family time in the midst of a global pandemic. Maybe you’ll be connecting with family and friends on Zoom instead of in your living room or a restaurant. Or, maybe you’re planning for a quiet holiday meal at home with just your household crew. The COVID-19 pandemic has made us press pause on many of our usual traditions. What won’t change? The get-it-all-done-quickly pace of preparing for the big days (shopping, holiday cards, cooking), the stress (perhaps you have even more this year), and the festive food and cocktails (you can still indulge while staying home, right?).
All of the above can be the perfect storm to throw our health and wellness off track. The frantic pace and stress of the season, including the new stressor of missing loved ones can lower our immune systems while spiking inflammation, which can leave us feeling lethargic or irritable (all of which even shows up on our skin). How many of us end up with an unexpected holiday surprise of a breakout, dullness or worse–in essence, tired, irritable skin? And let’s not forget the inflammation that many holiday foods (and adult beverages!) cause in our bodies. If you normally stick to an anti-inflammatory diet, you may feel the effects even more once your body is overcome by inflammation.
Here’s how to dial down inflammation during this unprecedented holiday season and embrace diet and skincare as a form of self-care to keep you looking and feeling healthy on the inside and out.
What is inflammation?
By design, inflammation isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it’s a necessary function designed to protect our bodies. When a foreign organism (like bacteria or a virus) invades the body, our white blood cells spring into action to fight off the potentially harmful intruders. The problem is that this is supposed to be a temporary response, but more and more often, our bodies live in a constant state of inflammation—in no small part because of what we are ingesting. When our bodies stay in this constant stressful place it can negatively impact, and even damage, healthy cells, tissues and organs, leading to internal scarring and DNA damage. Eventually all of that damage can also give way to larger health issues including diseases.
Dr. Perricone is often referred to as the “father of the inflammation theory of aging.” Back in 1997, the board-certified dermatologist and double-certified nutrition specialist declared that inflammation was enemy number one to everyone who hoped to live a long, healthy life.
Dr. Perricone developed a comprehensive health and wellness approach he broke down into three tiers to help fight the effects of aging and age-related disease caused by inflammation.
Tier 1: Eating an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
The best nutrition plan to minimize the visible signs of aging and reduce inflammation is to eat lean sources of protein, make low-glycemic choices about carbohydrates and choose fruits and vegetables rather than refined, processed foods. Another key: controlling your blood sugar. When blood sugar and insulin levels increase, cellular-level inflammation is created, resulting in low energy levels, increased susceptibility to diseases and an accelerated aging process.
But we’re all human. And who doesn’t crave a decadent treat?
This dark-chocolate covered pear dessert combines omega-3 rich walnuts, cocoa and fiber-rich pears. Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants which help fight off inflammation. Walnuts are, too. Plus, they also contain a fair amount of magnesium and vitamin E that studies show help reduce inflammatory biomarkers. To reap the many health benefits cocoa can provide to both body and skin, choose extra dark chocolate—preferably 70-85%—and look for “non-dutched” cocoa (since the process of “dutching” cocoa significantly reduces its anti-inflammatory flavanols).
Ingredients (Makes 8 chocolate-covered slices)
- 6 tablespoons dark chocolate
- 2 pears
- 4 tablespoons chopped raw walnuts
- waxed paper
- Clean and slice pears into quarters, removing the core and seeds.
- Melt chocolate over low heat in a small saucepan, stirring frequently for 3-5 minutes.
- Dip pear slices until half is covered, then sprinkle dipped side with raw walnuts and place on wax paper.
- Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Tier 2: Taking Targeted, Nutritional Supplements
Since our antioxidant levels are difficult to measure at any given moment, the best way to ensure you have steady protection is to control your dietary intake of antioxidants vitamins A, C and E with nutritional supplements, minerals and amino acids.
“Supplements have always been at the heart of the Perricone MD brand, specifically our three-tier philosophy,” explains Rosalba Martone, Perricone MD Director of Education. “Even someone who eats the most anti-inflammatory style ‘diet’ daily doesn’t necessarily get all the nutrients their body needs to optimally function. Our nutriceuticals supplement our bodies with nutrients we aren’t able to obtain from the foods that we eat, further contributing to an anti-inflammatory lifestyle from the inside-out.”
An easy way to help support healthy weight management during the holidays and beyond is with Perricone MD’s Health & Weight Management Supplements. The set has 90 perfectly portioned packets, so you don’t need to worry about piecing together what you need and how much of it to take. The supplements include DMAE, L-Tyrosine and CLA, a fatty acid that helps support our bodies’ fat breakdown process. The combo of DMAE and L-Tyrosine help support a healthy metabolism.
The Skin Clear Supplements deliver a powerful boost of Omega-3s, B-Complex and Vitamin C, plus Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA), which has been shown to reduce the appearance of fine lines and enlarged pores.
Tier 3: Choosing Skincare with Anti-Inflammatory Benefits
The Essential Fx Acyl-Glutathione Collection harnesses the power of our best-selling, patented Acyl-Glutathione molecule, combined with the skin barrier-protecting Vitamin F blend of chia seed, flax seed and macadamia seed oils. Acyl-Glutathione is a custom biomolecule created by Perricone MD to support the body’s natural level of glutathione – also known as the body’s master antioxidant. This potent molecule targets the appearance of creases, wrinkles and expression lines. Given the nature of how Acyl-Glutathione improves the appearance of damaged skin, it’s important to pair it with an intense moisturizing ingredient, like Vitamin F, to improve the skin’s moisture barrier. This powerful combination locks moisture in and keeps environmental aggressors out, making it the most potent Perricone MD skincare formula to date.
Cold Plasma Plus+ Collection: This line is loaded with Omega fatty acids to plump and strengthen skin, Vitamin C Ester to help brighten and improve the appearance of discoloration and Copper Tripeptides to firm and protect against environmental aggressors. The result is a dramatic improvement in loss of radiance, uneven texture, uneven skin tone, discoloration, redness, enlarged pores, fine lines, wrinkles and loss of firmness over time.
Inflammatory foods versus anti-inflammatory foods: How to indulge without succumbing
The list of inflammatory foods is (sadly) a long one but the biggest culprits include alcohol, sugar, artificial sweeteners, refined carbohydrates (like those made with white flour, which converts to sugar in our bodies), saturated fats (like those found in certain types of red meat and processed meats, like hot dogs and sausages), and trans fats like those found in margarine and store-bought pie crusts, cookies and other processed foods.
On the other side of the fence, there are quite a few foods that fight inflammation. University of South Carolina epidemiologists surveyed 1,943 studies and published a Dietary Inflammatory Index, with 45 food elements. Some of the biggest winners include:
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
They’re not only found in fatty fish like salmon but also in flaxseeds and chia seeds. Opting for a piece of salmon over the steak for your holiday dinner scores major points in fighting inflammation.
It’s found in oranges (and other citrus fruits), strawberries, peppers, and tomatoes. Using peppers for dips instead of crackers or bread is an easy way to get the anti-inflammatory benefits of Vitamin C. Noshing on a dark-chocolate-dipped strawberry is also a great alternative to a sweeter, fattier, heavily-processed dessert.
Polyphenols are found in plants and berries, like cranberries. Their high amounts of ellagic acid (a polyphenol) block the formation of MMPs (matrix metalloproteinase), which are the enzymes that break down collagen and elastin in the skin. The polyphenols in red wine make it a better choice than other types of alcohol.
Find Balance by Putting Yourself First
Perhaps the best thing you can do to protect your body and skin from inflammation during the holiday season is being mindful that it’s happening and that prioritizing yourself is an important first step. Choosing one food over another, consciously supporting your system with supplements designed to fuel you, getting enough sleep, protecting and nourishing your skin with the most effective ingredients possible—all of these are choices you can make to ensure a more peaceful season, inside and out.