J. Lo has great genes, there's no denying it. For the rest of us mere mortals who may be perplexed by our millennial peers’ early Botox habit or fear having to start a series of cosmetic tune-ups of our own, there's good news via the environment vs. genetics debate. No, you can't buy better genes, but you can foster an age-delaying scenario for the ones you were born with.
“Although genetics can play a factor in our health, they don’t predict our fate,” says Dr. Frank Lipman, a Manhattan-based physician whose patients include Gwyneth Paltrow, Donna Karan, and Maggie Gyllenhaal. “We have more control than you might think in whether or not genes are expressed.” Celebrity dermatologist and nutritionist Dr. Nicholas Perricone echoes that sentiment: “Using nutritional genomics, you can actually change the way genes are expressed, by manipulating different aspects of your diet and lifestyle.” Nutritional genomics, a subset of epigenetics, investigates how food influences gene expression, and how genes influence the way we absorb and metabolize food. In other words, you are what you metabolize.
If sugar is the devil, then inflammation is the root of all evil. “Because the health of our external body is much governed by the health of our internal body, addressing diet, water intake and stress relievers are of utmost importance,” explains Dr. Lipman. “We encourage a diet that keeps blood sugar balanced and fights inflammation in the body.” Eat your vegetables, healthy fats and good quality proteins, and add gluten and dairy the list of ingestible demons. Dr. Perricone credits “not eating enough protein and a strict avoidance of anything containing fat,” as contributing factors to why women often look older than men of the same age. Yet with the introduction of quality protein—like cold water fish, shellfish, lean free-range poultry, grass-fed beef, free-range eggs and quinoa—the skin on the face and body firms, with a visible lifting and improvement in tone and texture.
Beyond slathering on the SPF, the latest ingestible and topical innovations formulated with millennials (and older generations) in mind will further protect the skin against oxidative stress (think: pollution and free radical damage), and even help up-regulate the cells’ chief antioxidant, glutathione. “Once glutathione is increased, it begins one of its many cell-protective functions such as scooping up oxygen or nitrogen-based free radicals. It also protects against inflammation by inhibiting the pro-inflammatory transcription factors that can lead to inflammation-related micro-scarring of collagen,” (aka wrinkles), explains Dr. Perricone, whose latest skincare series Pre:Empt works to do just that. Dr. Lipman on the other hand, doles out Be Well supplements including glutathione and turmeric-derived curcumin to do the same from the inside. He further recommends taking a potent antioxidant such as alpha-lipoic acid to fight inflammation, balance blood sugar and protect skin’s collagen, and a good quality fish oil to fight inflammation and oxidation in the body.
The real takeaway here? Start early, and stay consistent. Eat like Gwenyth, drink bone broth like Shailene Woodley, foam-roll like Mila Kunis, and heal from the inside out. When your Instagram followers ask, you’ll be able to say you’re a natural beauty, too.