An apple a day might keep the doctor away, but can it also ward off skin discoloration and age-related fine lines and wrinkles? Many believe what goes into the body shows on the outside, and an increasing number of consumers are choosing foods over supplements to beautify from the inside out.
Think about it. Pregnant women appreciate how their skin radiates; and their nails grow stronger and hair thicker. Though some changes are hormonal, others correlate to dietary modifications - including the elimination of diuretics such as alcohol and caffeine, as well as the inclusion of a multi-vitamin. And of course, dairy intake increases, too. Oddly, upon giving birth, many women return to their old dietary habits, and not surprisingly, they often appear tired. Nails weaken. Hair thins out.
Relying on food for good looksAn increasing number of studies and clinical trials have fueled the development of “beauty foods” or “nutri-cosmetics.” The drivers of this emerging category of foods and beverages are the Baby Boomers and the Gen X-Y segment (adults in their 20s and 30s). The rise of cosmetic surgery reflects how far consumers are willing to go to enhance beauty.
While the older population is concerned more about repairing their skin to preserve their appearance, younger consumers are focusing on preventing skin damage. For many, super-nourishing, powerhouse foods and beverages are increasingly replacing an appointment with a cosmetician or a trip to the spa.
According to Little Falls, N.J.-based market research firm Kline & Co., the global market for nutri-cosmetics was worth $1.5 billion in 2007, and is expected to grow to $2.5 billion by 2012. Europe, primarily France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom, holds 55% of the market, and Japan 41%, while the United States has a mere 3% share. According to Kline, the three markets are very different, and companies developing and marketing nutri-cosmetics in these countries need to be aware of the differences, which range from legislation to consumer attitudes.
To clarify, nutri-cosmetics is all about visual appeal; as we all know true beauty is about what is inside…deep inside. No nutri-cosmetic will transform a narcissistic runway model into Mother Theresa.
Protecting the skin
But let’s face it - we all want to look visually attractive. First impressions (unfortunately) are almost always based on visual appeal. And what’s even more unfortunate is that our skin starts aging as soon as we leave our mother’s womb, as skin is the number-one barrier against external and internal stresses. Time takes a toll on it. It’s always under attack.
The primary environmental element attacking the skin is ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. Specifically, UVB sunrays that penetrate the top layer of skin are responsible for sunburn, which causes direct damage to cells. UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin and set off a cascade of reactions that cause skin aging, protein breakdown and disrepair. However, all UV waves can damage collagen fibers and, thereby, accelerate aging of the skin. Various food ingredients can protect the skin by enriching it with nutrients that block or reduce the damaging effects of sunlight.
There’s also oxidative stress. Many other external as well as internal sources of stress cause oxidative damage to the skin. The skin can be abused internally by poor dietary habits, as well as by fatigue and smoking. Antioxidants can assist with fighting off skin-damaging free radicals. Other nutrients assist with hydrating the skin and preventing skin from losing its elasticity.
Another platform is skin structure, metabolism and repair. The skin’s cells regenerate at a fast pace and require a constant source of nutrients to ensure they form correctly; maintain function and metabolism; and efficiently repair damage. Diet can assist with cell turnover.
Good nutrition plays an important role in maintaining healthy and attractive skin. This is why the concept of beauty-from-within foods is one that consumers are readily embracing.
With dairy processors starting with a powerhouse base (milk), getting involved in this booming business is a natural fit. Not only is milk loaded with high-quality protein, vitamins and minerals, milk naturally contains fat, which nourishes the hair and skin more than any other nutrient.
Here are some of the beauty-from-with ingredients attracting formulators.
Acai is a concentrated source of antioxidants. It is also an excellent source of calcium, iron, phosphorus, essential fatty acids and vitamins B1, B2, B3, C and E. No wonder it is described as a superfruit. Due to its many flavor and nutritional benefits, it is now being used in many food and beverage applications, including dairy.
Aloe vera has long been associated with skin health. It has historically been used as a soothing balm, applied externally for cuts, scrapes and burns. The health benefits of consuming aloe vera include assisting in the formation of collagen and dilating the capillaries and supporting cell growth, thereby improving circulation. Aloe vera juice is available for direct consumption. It is also being used as an ingredient in nutri-cosmetics, including a number of dairy products overseas.
In Vietnam, Kinh Do Well Yo Aloe Vera Yogurt is enriched with vitamin E and aloe vera. It is said to be smooth and delicious and leaves the skin looking beautiful.
Antioxidants fight free radicals, which are unstable oxygen molecules that damage the body - inside and out. For example, free radicals can cause the depletion of collagen, which increases the risk for wrinkles. Collagen is a fibrous protein present in the skin and other organs. Fortunately, antioxidants are able to reduce and neutralize the free radicals, along with preventing any damage they might cause.
Consuming anti-oxidative vitamins such as vitamin E has been shown to assist with preventing wrinkling of skin. Vitamin E oil has long been recognized as a topical application to prevent scarring and for minimalizing long-term damage from sun burn. Studies indicate vitamin E works just as well from the inside.
Derivatives of vitamin A are used to fight acne scarring. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble, essential vitamin. Beta carotene, which belongs to an anti-oxidative class of compounds known as carotenoids, can be converted in the body to vitamin A.
In the recently released book Stop Growing Older...Grow Younger, author J. Collin Towers shuns artificial creams, risky medical procedures and ineffective fads, advocating instead an all-natural approach to slowing down the aging process. Among the ways in which he professes the hands-of-time can be halted is through the consumption of dark chocolate. “Dark chocolate contains massive amounts of antioxidants, which are great for the body in general and are also known to reduce anxiety,” he writes.
In the book Food Cures: Treat Common Health Concerns, Look Younger & Live Longer, nutrition expert Joy Bauer writes that in addition to avoiding too much sun and smoking - the two worst things for your skin - fruits and vegetables rich in the antioxidant vitamins C and E nourish and protect the skin.
For example, vitamin C is involved collagen syntheses. Collagen and elastin, which is a protein that gives elasticity to the body’s organs, are responsible for the resilience and elasticity of the skin. As the body ages, the skin begins to lose its elasticity and capacity to retain moisture. Collagen production is diminished and the skin wrinkles. Thus, extra vitamin C is believed to assist with maintaining collagen production to slow the wrinkling process.
Hence, many food and beverage developers are boosting the levels of these vitamins and other antioxidants in product formulations either through the direct addition of concentrated nutrients, or indirectly by formulating with foods high in antioxidants.
A new ingredient based on a natural blend of individual fruit- and vegetable- powders has been clinically shown to inhibit elastase by up to 10% in human subjects within two hours after ingestion. Elastase is an enzyme associated with the deterioration of elastin.
Coenzyme Q10 has two important roles in the body. First, it is found inside cell walls as well as inside the mitochondria of cells, and is involved with effective production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Second, coenzyme Q10 functions as an antioxidant.
Under perfect conditions, the body produces as much coenzyme Q10 as it needs. However, various factors, such as aging, stress and some medications, can lower the levels of coenzyme Q10 in the body, which reduces the ability of cells to withstand stress and regenerate.
In Poland, Polmlek Olsztyn Sp. z.o.o., introduces Warmia Dr Marciej Beauty Line Koenzymem Q10 yogurt. This coenzyme Q10-enriched drinking yogurt includes antioxidant-rich fruits, such as acai, grapefruit and raspberry.
Collagen and elastin degenerate with age, setting the stage for the appearance of wrinkles, creases, folds and furrows. Collagen supplementation can nourish and strengthen collagen and elastin bonds. Collagen has successfully been incorporated into many dairy products in the world market.
For example, in select markets in Asia, Switzerland-based global food giant Nestlé offers Day & Night Collagen Enriched Low Fat Drink. Sold in a dual pack containing one 225-milliliter “Day” drink in a Brightening Grapefruit flavor and one 225-milliliter “Night” drink in a Vitalizing Mixed Berry flavor, both varieties contain less than 0.3% fat. The dairy-based drinks claim to help maintain skin elasticity and moisture thanks to added collagen ingredients.
Japan’s Nipponluna has reformulated its refrigerated yogurt to now contain collagen for beauty benefits. Also in Japan, Yakult Eating Yakult SHEs Yogurt is targeted to women in the 30- to 40-years-old range. The yogurt contains collagen, calcium, iron and various vitamins, all designed to slow the aging process.
A new marine-based, all-natural ingredient is composed of marine collagen and elastin peptides in the same ratio found naturally in skin. When taken orally, collagen and elastin have shown a synergistic anti-wrinkle action, stimulating skin to lift and tone sagging areas and minimize lines and wrinkles while increasing skin moisture retention. This water-soluble ingredient is one of the most prominent oral beauty ingredients in the French beauty-from-within market.
Lutein is a carotenoid that clinical studies have shown to be effective in providing the skin with protection from the damaging effects of sunlight. Research also indicates that lutein offers important skin protection from harmful oxidative stress, which can result from sunlight exposure and the cumulative effects of natural aging, the pressures of everyday living, smoking, air pollution and an unbalanced diet. In addition, a recent clinical study shows that oral supplementation with lutein significantly increases skin hydration and elasticity.
Lycopene is an antioxidant-rich carotenoid found in tomatoes and other fruits that is often used as a naturally derived source of color. Not only is lycopene a colorant of interest, but it is also an important ingredient for promoting beauty from within, as it has strong clinical support for providing UV protection to the skin.
Omega-3 fatty acids help maintain cell membranes by allowing water and nutrients in and keeping toxins out. Omega-3s also seem to be able to protect skin against sun damage, as well as keep hair looking healthy.
For centuries, women put their faith in a daily spoonful of cod liver oil to maintain a youthful appearance. Not only is cod liver oil, which as the name suggests is derived from the liver of cod fish, high in omega-3 fatty acids, it is also a concentrated source of vitamins A and D.
Resveratrol, which is found in the skin of red grapes and naturally present in red wine, is also available to food formulators as a concentrated ingredient. It has been shown to exhibit anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which assists with delaying the onset of visible signs of aging.
Rosmarinic acid comes from the leaves of the rosemary plant. It is a concentrated source of antioxidants and has been shown to protect the skin against the harmful effects of UV radiation.
Vitamin D plays an important role in the function of all of the organs of the body. And with skin being the largest organ, vitamin D is being incorporated into many nutri-cosmetics. Vitamin D helps maintain mineral levels, which in turn maintains the skin’s moisture levels. Dryer skin is more easily damaged and less firm.