Top 13 Antioxidant Foods for Healthy Skin

Our skin is constantly under assault. Toxins in what we eat, pollutants in the air and even sunshine itself all cause incremental damage to the skin in the form of free-radicals. Free-radicals are mutations in DNA that reduce the skin’s ability to heal and renew itself. This leads to wrinkles, age spots, enlarged pores and even skin cancer. Luckily antioxidants are readily available in many everyday food items. Adding foods high in antioxidants can help you keep your skin healthy and radiant. Here are 13 of the best antioxidant foods:

Garlic
Garlic

Garlic

Garlic has to be one of the healthiest foods around. Garlic is credited with being able to promote cardiovascular health, help prevent cancer, fights diabetes and reduce blood pressure. It is an anti-inflamatory and supports body metabolism. Diets that regularly include garlic encourage higher antioxidant counts.

Avocados
Avocados

Avocados

Avocados are a great source of vitamin E, which helps promote the growth of new skin cells. The top layers of skin are constantly replacing dead skin cells with new ones, keeping this cycle of renewal operating efficiently keeps your complexion looking young and vibrant.

Coffee
Coffee

Coffee

Coffee is the number one source of antioxidants consumption in the United States. Some studies have shown that women who consume at least three cups of coffee a day are less likely to develop skin cancer. Be careful though, coffee can dehydrate you, making your skin dry.

Citrus Fruits
Citrus Fruits

Citrus Fruits

Collagen is the basic building block of the skin, it is what gives the skin its firmness and strength. Vitamin C is a key component for the body to be able to create and maintain collagen. Citrus fruits like oranges and limes are a great source of vitamin C.

Nuts
Nuts

Nuts

The health benefits of nuts keep piling up. Tree nuts like walnuts, pecans, pistachios and almonds are packed with Zinc, vitamin E, Manganese and health fats. Zinc is an essential building block for skin cells to heal wounds and protect against ultraviolet light. Vitamin E is one of the most powerful antioxidant agents for fighting free radicals and keep help minimize the damage caused by sun burns. Manganese aids in building connective tissues as well as help the body's absorption of vitamin C.

Tomatoes
Tomatoes

Tomatoes

Tomatoes contain the highest lycopene count of an food. Tomatoes draw their color from this antioxidant which is credited with fighting free-radicals linked to many types of cancer, including skin cancer. In addition to lycopene, tomatoes are also a good source of vitamins A, C, K, folate and potassium.

Olive Oil
Olive Oil

Olive Oil

Many common skin conditions, such as psoriasis, eczema and rashes, are caused by inflamations in the skin. Olive oil contains oleocanthal, a powerful anti-inflammatory agent.

Leafy Greens
Leafy Greens

Leafy Greens

Its no surprise that leafy greens, such and kale and spinach, make the list. These vegetables are bursting with nutrients. The vitamin A in leafy greens is a must for the skin as it is essential for the body to build new tissue. Since your body is constantly replacing the top layers of old, dead skin cells, a diet high in vitamin A gives your body the building blocks it needs for new healthy skin cells.

Fish
Fish

Fish

Many types of fish are a great source for omega-3 fatty acids. These "good" fats have to reduce inflammation in the skin, helping to keep pores open and clear, improving your overall complexion. Species with the highest omega-3 counts include mackerel, sardines and wild caught salmon.

Dark Chocolate
Dark Chocolate

Dark Chocolate

Its all about cocoa content. Cocoa is known to be loaded with flavinols and epicatechin, beneficial, free-radical fighting antioxidants. Dark chocolate may also helpful in building tooth enamel, keeping your smile beautiful as well. Feel free to indulge in a piece of dark chocolate or just sprinkle a little cocoa powder on fruit or yogurt for a healthy, skin friendly snack.

Red Wine
Red Wine

Red Wine

Red grapes and red wine are a potent source of resveratrol, which may help cells live longer, healthier lives. This polyphenol antioxidant appears to stimulate the mitochondria, the "power house" that generates energy inside individual cells. Cheers!

Green Tea
Green Tea

Green Tea

Green tea contains an type of antioxidant known as catechins. Studies have show these catechins are helpful in protecting the elasticity of our skin, that is the ability for the skin to stretch. Think about when you pinch your skin, it is the elasticity that causes it to rebound and return to normal. Catechins also help prevent free-radicals caused by UV light.

Berries
Berries

Berries

Berries are small packages carrying a heavy antioxident punch. Its hard to go wrong with berries, acai, cranberries, strawberries, raspberries, they are all packed with vitamins and lower in sugar than other fruits. When it comes to antioxidants though, the tiny blueberry is a serious heavy-weight. Blueberries they are loaded with vitamins K and C, manganese, fiber, copper and are consistently ranked as having the highest antioxidant count of all foods. Take advantage of the fruits of summer this year and enjoy a variety of skin healthy berries!

The Shifting Landscape of HealthCare Economics

The rise of “managed care”, embodied most notably by the Health Maintenance Organization (“HMO”), has transformed doctor-patient relationships from the days when a doctor would come with their little bag to your home, to one of high costs and long waits. The battles over Healthcare Reform have only served to further confuse the dilemma we face and make solutions even harder to get at. The 25,000 page Affordable Care Act, called Obamacare by both critics and supporters, is perhaps the most obvious example of just how complex and confused our healthcare has become.

To understand where we are, we must first review how we got here.

What Happened to House Calls?

Once upon a time you’d start feeling that scratchy throat and you’d pick up a phone and within an hour or two, a knock at your door meant the doctor would see you now. He’d give you a look, perhaps write a prescription and you’d hand over some money and that would be the end of it.

That’s long gone. Very few of us are able to say we recall those days.

Today, no other professional service provider, not attorneys, real estate agents, accountants, auto mechanics, contractors, plumbers or anyone else is so far removed from their customer and getting paid than a physician. But why? Don’t people work harder for their money when they know ‘the boss’ (the person paying them), is watching? Medicine no longer works this way, but it did once.

The trend for physicians and patients alike for the last 40 years has been away from direct interactions and compensation to ones buffered by insurance company HMOs and government agencies such as Medicare and Medicaid. Need to see a specialist? Call your HMO and get a referral. The wait too long? Tough luck. Want that new device you saw on TV for your diabetes? Sorry, not covered by Medicare. Why does it work like this?

The Beginning of the End

In the not too distant past (the late 60s), over 75% of all healthcare expenses were covered in the private sector, with individuals paying nearly half of all costs. You read that right. Half.

Think of this for a moment. If you were an individual physician, this meant that most of your annual pay came directly from your patients paying you cash. If patients liked you, you likely made more and got busier. If they didn’t, you suffered as patients simply left your practice for Dr. Joe down the street.

The average doctor, even specialist, would not likely have even one full-time administrator handling insurance or government reimbursement. The next time you happen into your doctor’s office, take a look around. Ask the receptionist how many people work on reimbursement. It’s likely as many or more people than deliver actual care to patients. The cost to employ all those people, fill out all those forms and pay all the people on the other end who read and fill out more forms is tremendous and provides zero healthcare to anyone. None of this ever existed in medicine until the early 70s. So what changed?

Shift from Consumer-Pay to Government-Sponsored Insurance

The first major change was the introduction of Medicare and Medicaid to support insurance for the poor and elderly in 1965. The law’s passage marked the first real major intervention into healthcare by the federal government. The goal was to help expand medical coverage to populations who either were unable to afford it or were not receiving care. One unintended consequence, however, was that it put a third party between the caregiver and the patient. Payment for service and the incentives to control cost were limited as the actually payer (Medicare) was not reviewing the performance of the caregiver. Physicians needed additional personnel to process billing and receive payments which led to higher costs. Unexpectedly higher costs led to government needing to exercise greater cost-controls for various services rendered and direct control over services offered (“Mandated Benefits”).

As consumers enrolled in the program became less aware of the cost for services, overutilization of healthcare services grew. The chart here shows the growth in health care expenditures relative to the Consumer Price Index:

graph1

Whatever your political leanings, everyone agrees these programs are extremely expensive at over $600 billion annually. Medicare & Medicaid are projected to top out at one trillion annually by 2020. The non-partisan Government Accountability Office lists Medicare as a “High-Risk” program rife with fraud and abuse. Each year less than 5% of claims on the program are audited for accuracy.

To Make Matters Worse

Partly in response to the escalating cost of healthcare, in 1973 Congress passed The Health Maintenance Organization Act of 1973 (Pub. L. 93-222 codified as 42 U.S.C. §300e). The law’s principle sponsor was Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy and was signed into law on Dec. 29, 1973 by President Richard Nixon. It was touted then much as the Affordable Care Act has been touted now. Government needed to do something in order to get inflating healthcare costs under control. More consumers needed to be pushed into coverage and costs needed to be controlled.

The mechanism the law designed to cover more consumers and control prices was the “Healthcare Maintenance Organization”, the HMO. This new entity would be administered by the health insurance companies and would offer insurance HMOs which would be federally qualified by the government. Health benefits would be subject to federal requirements and costs were hoped to be controlled by limiting the kinds of care one would be able to secure under the HMO. Visits to specialists would need to be first approved. Certain tests and procedures would be limited. The hope was that by shifting more consumers into a ‘controlled’ market, their options would be limited and thereby costs could be controlled more effectively while not causing much harm to care.

While HMOs certainly don’t have the best reputation, we’ll leave the quality of care discussion to more experienced health care professionals. However, in evaluating their effectiveness on controlling costs, one need only look at the above chart. Here it is again as I think it tells the story well enough:

graph2

 

Purely as a cost-cutting measure, the HMO was an obvious failure. The increasing costs and overutilization of care which started in earnest under the Medicare & Medicaid laws only seemed to exacerbate with the HMO law. An ever-increasing number of consumers paid less and less of their own expenses, yet used more and more services. It’s as though they had an open bar tab that was never to be paid back. Whereas roughly half of all expenses were paid directly by patients, today it is only 1/10. Doctors are no longer accountable to patients, patients no longer accountable for their own expenses. Care suffers as medical innovation wanes. The incentives to invest in medical innovation which yields better treatments is increasingly becoming limited as government and insurance companies tried to get a handle on the ever-increasing costs they are forced to pay.

Never Too Much of a Bad Thing

As costs have grown more and more over time, the legislative answer from both Republicans and Democrats has typically been to attempt ‘reform’ to these programs and insurance offerings. Each decade has seen attempts at reform which have generally added to the programs’ complexities and become fodder for lobbying. Certain treatments became mandated as part of insurance coverages, others excluded and costs continued to escalate.

Enter the Affordable Care Act. The debate over ‘Obamacare’ was an obvious political football, however very few democrats or republicans actually argued over the government’s role in healthcare or in the coverage guidance it mandates through federally regulated insurance plans.

In fact, Republican Representative and Vice Presidential Nominee Paul Ryan stated “we will restore the $716 billion raided from Medicare to pay for Obamacare”. Obama and likeminded democrats defended this move as a way to shift cost from one government program to another, in effect moving money from one ‘pocket to another’.

In the end, neither side’s points address the actual reason for exponential cost increases or the diminishing role of physician-patient relationship in medicine. The third party ‘buffer’, whether government agency or insurance company, creates inefficiencies and incentives for increasing costs and decreasing quality of care.

The Answer? Boob Jobs

There is a model functioning  today in medicine with consumer and doctors dealing directly with one another and prices being determined in a market.

Cash-pay medicine is everywhere. Botox®? You pay cash. Breast Augmentation? Cash. You go to whichever doctor you think is the best. He has to treat you right otherwise you’ll go to a different doctor. Good plastic surgeons are booked out weeks in advance, new doctors or unsupervised ‘medispas’, they advertise on Groupon.

Friends will say “But what about high-cost procedures? Surely a heart surgery isn’t a breast lift.” This is true. However, surgical procedures that are covered by insurance or Medicare/Medicaid are grossly overpriced as hospitals are forced to cover costs related to regulation (think of all those bookkeepers and medicare-compliance administrators) as well as the cost of unpaid ER visits, among many other things. Cash-paid treatments tend to be much more price-elastic as competition forces prices down and increasing market entrants offer the same services for lower prices.

In addition, financing options are usually available for elective medical treatments, which is not possible with Medicare/Medicaid treatments due to regulation and a lack of demand as no one in their right mind would finance a treatment that they can get “for free” from Medicare.

Cash-pay medicine is something consumers want and something doctors want too. Patients hate their HMOs, as the service stinks. It’s the medical equivalent of the DMV, and rightfully so. What does an HMO, with its government-sanctioned monopoly, have to be ‘nice’ or provide good service?

Markets that serve their customers well grow over time. For example, “lifestyle medicine” is growing a projected 15% annually. Physicians are flooding into this market as ‘managed care’ (the term given to insurance/government managed healthcare) continues to squeeze doctors for longer and longer hours with less and less compensation. A report by George Washington University recently looked at over 9,000 recently graduated doctors, and fewer than 25% chose to become a primary care physician. Doctors are voting with their careers, turning away from the managed care world and seeking out specialties where they can directly interact with patients with less overhead and higher margins.

With all this growth in direct, cash-pay medicine and high demand from doctors to go into fields of medicine without the headaches and overhead of insurance and government control, what can this mean for the rest of medicine, what can we learn?

Back to the Future

There’s a place for government and insurance in healthcare, but it should not be in the middle of the patient and their doctor. The possibility of fraud, overutilization, skewed incentives, career dissatisfaction for doctors and lack of medical innovation makes state-of-the-art, quality care impossible. While it’s too early to see what will come of Obamacare, it’s very likely to do little to stem the tide of cost and poor patient care. Like its many well-intended predecessors both democrat and republican, it’s unlikely to improve the situation much.

Only a system that incentives doctors to treat patients right and charge reasonable prices will be sustainable.

In some parts of the country doctors are now practicing “concierge medicine”. You feel that scratchy throat? You pick up the phone and call your doctor. Within an hour or two they show up knocking on your door. They treat you in your own home. Heck, they even give out their cell phone number in case of emergencies. They don’t take insurance, not PPO or HMO nor Medicare, but they do take cash or credit. They even bring their little black bag with them.

Someday soon it may no longer be called “concierge medicine”, it may just be called “medicine”.

The Rise of Medspas

Since 2007 the number of medspas and hybrid medical practices has increased by almost a factor of five, soaring from 800 to 4,500 (from MarketWatch. What has caused this increase, especially since the economy has been less than bullish the past few years? Such a dramatic jump can likely be attributed to multiple factors.

  1. The “lipstick indicator” effect – This is a classic study originally done by a major cosmetics manufacturer that found people wanted to look their best in a down economy. Since unemployment leads to an increase in competition for scarce jobs, those seeking employment try to look their best in an attempt to gain any advantage possible.
  2. Increased healthcare cost – Many private physicians have felt the squeeze of increasing costs but decreasing reimbursements, leading to the need to diversify revenue streams. One potentially lucrative revenue stream is aesthetic medicine and the cash paying patients it brings. Lax regulations on aesthetic treatment providers and device companies eager to train doctors in the use of their equipment offer a relatively low bar for entry into a field offering procedures like laser hair removal and removal of abnormal skin pigmentations. The biggest barrier is the capital invest required to purchase a medical laser.
  3. Increased narcissism – The rise of social media and a renewed interest in Hollywood stars via Facebook and Twitter may be contributing to a general self-absorption. The pressure to look their best has driven increasing numbers to seek aesthetic medical treatments. This is driving up the demand and the market is simply responding to meet this increase

So is it a chicken and egg scenario? Is the market demanding more medspas or is the increase in medspas making treatment more accessible? You decide.

Trends: Cosmetic Treatments Are In For Father’s Day [INFOGRAPHIC]

Beer, Baseball and Botox? The New Father’s Day Trend Toward Male Vanity

A recent review of Social Media published by The Patient’s Guide® unveils a growing new trend towards male interest in cosmetic treatments.  In the last 30 days leading up to Father’s Day, a review of Facebook and Twitter posts indicate that 40% of all social media references to BOTOX® were now made by men. Botox, a well-known injectable made by Allergan, Inc., which relaxes the facial muscles that create wrinkles, is the most common cosmetic treatment mentioned in social media. It’s no wonder why this procedure has sprouted its new nickname, dubbed Brotox, to cater to its growing male audience.

As a result, cosmetic practices have also seen an increase in male patients. “10-15% of my patients are males who come in for Botox and other cosmetic injectable treatments. That number is definitely up from previous years,” says Dr. Jason Bloom, a Facial Plastic Surgeon in Philadelphia. “Male patients are being brought in by their significant others for Botox, or have seen their wives after receiving Botox and are interested in seeing how it can help them.”

On average, these male Botox users are between the ages of 42-57. “Male interest in aesthetic treatments is up 44% from Q1 of last year to this year,” said Jasson W. Gilmore, CEO and Co-Founder of The Patient’s Guide. “Based on these results, along with feedback from physicians in the field, we expect this trend to continue. As cosmetic treatments like BOTOX®, Juvederm® (http://www.wrinkles.org/juvederm/) and Ulthera® become more mainstream, men will adopt them and represent a strong growth segment for the industry.”

Dr. Frederick Brandt, a celebrity dermatologist known internationally for his revolutionary role in the field of dermatology and injectables, has seen a similar trend in his practice in Miami. “Men want to look as good as they feel, and also due to the economic downturn they need to keep up their younger look to be competitive in the job market. With non-invasive procedures they can have a fresh look without surgery.” Dr. Brandt has also witnessed friends and family purchase cosmetic procedures for their father or husband on special holidays and birthdays.

About The Patient’s Guide:
Each month over one million visitors trust The Patient’s Guide, a platform of niche beauty properties each dedicated to a specific condition or treatment. Visitors trust the information provided because the content is written by the field’s leading experts with over 150 years of collective dermatology experience. For more information, visit www.PatientsGuide.com.

BOTOX® and Juvederm® are registered trademarks of Allergan, Inc.

Ulthera® is a registered trademark of Ulthera, Inc.

SOURCE The Patient’s Guide

Real original press releasehttp://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/trends-cosmetic-treatments-are-in-for-fathers-day-infographic-158875125.html

Trends: Brotox in for Father's Day (infographic)

Liposonix vs Liposuction

Once upon a time, liposuction, a surgical procedure where fat is sucked out of the body via a hollow tube inserted under the skin, was one of the only options for eliminating stubborn pockets of fat. With a potential 8 weeks of recovery time and a price tag of $6-$8000, it was not a decision that many entered into lightly if at all. However, thanks to new, recently FDA approved non-invasive technologies, such as Liposonix, patients who might have been afraid to go under the knife now have alternate options.

Liposonix, cleared by the FDA in 2011, uses ultrasonic energy to target the layer of fat just under the skin; the fat is then eliminated by the body’s immune system and liver over a period of time. Though there is no cutting involved, there have been reports of pain, cold, prickling, tingling and warming during the procedure and soreness, bruising, redness and/or swelling afterwards. Though not as dramatic as the results expected from Liposuction, for just about $3000 one can expect a reported average circumference reduction of just over an inch (an entire pants size) at around 8-12 weeks from the time of the procedure.

Although Liposonix may seem like a dream come true to those who have been waiting for a non-surgical, fat loss alternative, some may continue to wait. There are various specifications that a potential patient must reach before being approved. You must have a BMI under 30 (not obese and close to ideal weight), be able to pinch at least 1 inch of fat on your midsection and be realistic about your desired results. Also, this procedure is currently only approved for the abdomen and flanks; so those looking for fat loss in other areas such as the legs, arms or buttock may need to continue to wait or seek out surgical alternatives. See before and after photos of Liposonix here.