In Yuzuri Hara, a village in Japan, ten percent of the population is 85 or older. Diseases of aging, such as cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer's, are virtually unknown. People rarely see a doctor and their skin rarely shows signs of aging. They live long, healthy active lives.
As reported on the ABC News program 20/20, researchers have discovered the ‘magical’ ingredient that appears to keep people in Yuzuri Hara young. It is hyaluronic acid, which is found naturally in the carbohydrate foods that are unique to the hilly terrain of this village.
In fact a large pharmaceutical company in Japan began Research & Development on a pill supplement containing HA. When they tested the pills on one thousand individuals, around half of them reported smoother skin and even improved eyesight. Hyaluronic acid has also proven effective in lubricating arthritic joints as well, as certain studies have shown positive results from injections into the joints of Hyaluronic Acid, a component of the bodies own lubricant fluid, that may delay the need for a joint replacement.
What Does Hyaluronic Acid Do?
Hyaluronic acid is a natural and essential moisture component of your skin. It lies within your connective tissue layers and acts as a support to your collagen and elastin fibers. It helps your skin stay plump and smooth because of its ability to absorb up to 1000 times its weight in water. HA also supports the formation and maintenance of collagen, an important connective tissue. Collagen degradation is believed to cause a decrease in skin tone and elasticity.
Scientific studies have shown that hyaluronic acid improves skin hydration, works as an antioxidant and free-radical scavenger, and stimulates the production of collagen in skin. HA also keeps tissues elastic, protecting joints from repeated stresses. Other studies have shown that hyaluronic acid has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammation properties. Ironically, the molecule itself has a short lifespan and must be frequently produced by cells to replace lost hyaluronic acid.
As we get older our bodies produce less and less HA. The drop in HA starts at around the age of 18-20 years. But after the age of 40 the down slide becomes apparent. Skin starts to lose its elasticity and lines and wrinkles appear .
Boost Hyaluronic Acid with Diet
Injecting or taking HA supplements are not the only way to increase hyaluronic acid levels in your body. Overall, eating a diet rich in whole foods, combined with exercise and a healthier lifestyle, and reducing your consumption of processed foods will boost levels of hyaluronic acid throughout the body. It is much better to focus on overall health than on just taking one supplement, so even if you use a HA supplement, strive to live a healthier lifestyle. Remember that the long-living Japanese villagers that were the focus of ABC's News Program did not take supplements, but rather had a varied diet of natural foods, combined with a healthy lifestyle. Therefore, it is likely that the regenerative processes in the body are less likely to be triggered by supplements than by natural foods.
The town doctor in the small village in Japan attributed the villager's long lives and beautiful skin to these "starchy root vegetables"-- satsumaimo, a type of sweet potato; satoimo, a sticky white potato; konyaku, a gelatinous root vegetable concoction; and imoji, a potato root. The doctor believes "these locally grown starches help stimulate hyaluronic acid. Research shows that a variety of vegetables, especially starchy root vegetables including potatoes and sweet potatoes, enable the body to produce hyaluronic acid.
Because of its tendency to increase levels of estrogen in the body--which in turn increases levels of hyaluronic acid--soy is a great vegetable option. Animal studies show that soy isoflavones protect skin against sun damage and may increase production of hylauronic acid. Soy beans in their original baby form are edamame. Tofu, or soy bean curd, is the most versatile soy food.
Magnesium is essential for hyaluronic acid synthesis; a lack of magnesium in the diet may be part of the cause of low hyaluronic acid levels.
Soy is rich in magnesium, as is spinach, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, potatoes, green lettuce and carrots.
A variety of magnesium-rich fruits are available: apples, bananas, strawberries, tomatoes, avocados, pineapples, oranges, papayas, melons, peaches and pears. Legumes such as kidney beans, pinto beans, black-eyed peas and lentils are rich in magnesium. Peanuts and almonds also contain magnesium.
Low levels of hyaluronic acid has also been found in individuals with low zinc levels.
Zinc is utilized for a variety of bodily processes. The best vegetable source for zinc is pumpkin seeds. Potatoes are also a good source, as is yeast, peanuts, beans, whole grains or brown rice.
avoid ascorbic acid
There is research that suggests ascorbic acid degrades hylauronic acid. The final consensus is still unclear on whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. See the study here. Until further research is done, it might be a good idea to avoid high doses of ascorbic acid.
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