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Skin is the biggest organ in our body. It functions as a barrier protecting the body from harmful external environment factors such as mechanical damage, noxious substances, microorganism invasion, and radiation. In addition, the skin controls the water loss from the body and regulates body temperature.

Appearance of the skin is primarily determined by the skin surface texture, color, and physiologic properties such as elasticity and skin oil (sebum) production. The surface texture reflects the smoothness of the skin, wrinkle appearance, and pore size. Skin color reflects the evenness of skin tone and the coloration of the skin. Elasticity often relates the sagginess of the skin. Skin oil production directly relates to the moisture level of the skin.

Skin condition and functions are affected by both environmental factors and endogenous factors. Environmental factors include UV radiation, free radicals, toxic and allergic compounds, and mechanical damages. UV radiation and free radicals may cause collage breakdown leading to skin inflammation, skin sagging and wrinkle formation. Toxic and allergic compounds cause dermatitis, which often causes skin inflammation, scarring, and skin discoloration. Mechanical damage may cause scarring and collagen breakdown on the skin. Endogenous factors include genetic predisposition, immune and hormone status, and stress.

Studies have shown that skin function and appearance are dependent upon nutrition. To have healthy and beautiful skin, nutritional management is essential and in fact more important than what you put on the skin. In the future posts, we will discuss the effects of various nutrients on skin condition and provide tips on how to maintain a healthy and radiant skin.

Thanks for reading!

Dr. Connie Wan

Human cognitive function tends to decline as we get older. Many researches have shown that risk of dementia is reduced by higher fruit and vegetable intake, and that cognitive function is better preserved in healthy older adults with a diet rich in plant-based foods. The consensus from the scientific community is that flavonoids, which are abundant in plants, are likely to be an important component in causing these effects.

In a study by the researchers from the University of Exeter of UK, 26 healthy adults aged 65-77 were divided into two groups: 12 were given concentrated blueberry juice, rich in flavonoids, — providing the equivalent of 230g of blueberries — once a day, while 14 received a placebo. Before and after the 12-week period, participants took a range of cognitive tests while an MRI scanner monitored their brain function and resting brain blood flow was measured.

Compared to the placebo group, the blueberry group showed significant increases in brain activity in brain areas related to the tests. Specifically, the study showed that with just 12 weeks of consuming 30ml of concentrated blueberry juice every day, brain blood flow, brain activation and some aspects of working memory were improved in this group of healthy older adults.

Blueberries are sweet, nutritious and wildly popular. Often labeled a “superfood,” they are low in calories and incredibly good for you. Blueberries are believed to contain one of the highest antioxidant content of commonly consumed fruits and vegetables with the main antioxidant compounds as flavonoids. The Exeter study seems to reinforce the existing belief that flavonoids benefits the brain function in older adults.

Thanks for reading.

Dr. Connie Wan

Journal Reference: Joanna L. Bowtell, Zainie Aboo-Bakkar, Myra Conway, Anna-Lynne R. Adlam, Jonathan Fulford. Enhanced task related brain activation and resting perfusion in healthy older adults after chronic blueberry supplementation. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 2017; DOI: 10.1139/apnm-2016-0550
Source: Informed Nutrition