As I watched the Sochi Olympics last night, I was amazed at the performances of the many young athletes. Even in the cold of Russia, everyone seemed healthy and vibrant. My concentration, however, was soon disrupted by a somewhat entertaining commercial. In this commercial, a gentleman made one poor decision. This led to a plethora of poor decisions and consequences. If you do this, then, this will happen. If this happens, then, this will occur next, and so on. The commercial ended by saying something like this,” if you want to end up like this fellow, don’t make these decisions.”

Decisions have consequences. When I look at the health consequences of the world, we have made some poor decisions. The rates of cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes, chronic pain and mental health problems continue unabated. What will the future hold in a system that spends one in six dollars on healthcare?  The results are not heading in the right direction. The future lies with the young and the decisions they will make today.

How can Heartwise get teenagers interested in their health? After all, teenagers are indestructible as well as all-knowing. How can we engage them in health? What would be an interesting topic to start with? How can we, as parents, friends, and loved ones get teenagers to realize, just like the fellow in the commercial, that the health decisions they make now will affect their future. Everyone is interested in looking better. What a great place to start! I am going to give teenagers three ways they can improve their looks immediately without spending money.

Eighty five percent of teenagers suffer from acne to some degree. It is interesting to note that in non-western countries, acne is not that much of an issue.  Milk and dairy consumption have been implicated as a major contributor to acne. In the February 2005 Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, it was suggested that exposure to hormones in cows’ milk serve as a trigger for acne. Remember cows’ milk is loaded with protein hormones which stimulate growth. Milk is made for the growth of the calf. In a Harvard study with 47,000 women, increased intake of dairy was associated with acne via the hormones found in milk. Low fat milk even posed a greater risk as the proteins became more concentrated. If you think about it, milk is loaded with hormones from the cow which is passed on to the drinker disrupting the delicate chemical balance. Do we really need more hormones? In looking at the evidence the answer is no. This hormonal balance is especially important in teenagers who are making their own fair share of growth hormones during adolescence. Hormonal variations secondary to dairy increases the expression of acne and yet we still see the “Milk is Good” ads. One simple way to improve your looks today is to avoid milk and dairy products and get these extra proteins out of your developing body.

Another way to improve your looks today is to eat foods rich in carotenoids. These include greens like kale and broccoli. In studies done, it has been found that people prefer a “golden glow” to their skin.  The golden glow of skin is better created by eating these carotenoids rather than taking the risks associated with tanning beds. Certain animal species have been eating these type of foods for years as they seek to improve color in the mating season. Tip number two to improve your looks. Eat some broccoli and kale for lunch and watch the glow.

Not only do we look better but when we eat healthier, we can also improve the blood supply to organs all over the body including the skin. When a high fat diet is ingested, the endothelium is paralyzed. This is the organ that helps regulate blood flow to all the organs including heart, muscles, and yes the skin. A high fat meal causes free radicals to be formed which decreases the production of nitric oxide. To make this simple, without nitric oxide, the blood vessels cannot dilate and organs will not receive as much blood with the needed oxygen and nutrients. A high fat meal as Dr. Vogel has demonstrated in an article in the Journal of Clinical Cardiology in 1999, impairs the ability of the blood vessels to dilate and get nutrients as well as oxygen to the desired organ. The third tip to improving your looks is to avoid processed fats which limit the blood supply to the skin. To look good your skin needs the best blood supply possible.

Teenagers, there you have it, 3 ways to look better immediately without spending much money. Let’s review, #1 avoid milk protein and dairy. This will decrease growth hormones in the body and decrease acne. Suggestion #2, eat foods rich with carotenoids to give your skin a golden glow. Tip #3 is to cut back on processed fat. This will improve your endothelial function and improve blood flow, better blood flow, and better looks.

What are the first steps in improving my diet? Kelli has interviewed Rip Esselstyn, a best-selling author (Engine Two Diet), and a world-famous nutritionists/health advocate/athlete. Esselstyn, in this exclusive interview with Heartwise Ministries, gives valuable information and practical tips to help each one of us begin a nutritional transformation. Take a look. These suggestions will improve your looks immediately.

Remember, decisions made today have consequences tomorrow. Improve your appearance today with a healthier diet. Let us not stop there, but start a health revolution, one step at a time.

Watch Kelli’s Interview with Rip Esselstyn about Plant-Strong Nutrition