Anti-Aging Products and Ingredients: Separating the skincare Heroes from the Zeroes

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Here’s what is certain: There are no firming or tightening products whose results can duplicate what you derive from in-office procedures such as dermal fillers, botox, lasers, or cosmetic surgery. Board-Certified Denver plastic surgeon Manish Shah says, “There are anti- aging products or ingredients that do perform significantly better than others and can make a profound difference in the skin’s appearance while others are simply “false hope in a jar.”

 Why don’t most products work the way they claim? Almost without exception, when you buy a product claiming to tighten skin, its effects, if any, are due to ingredients such as film-forming agents. Just like the name states, film-forming agents form a film on the skin, and that can make the skin “feel” tighter. The effect is temporary and you won’t see noticeable lifting of sagging skin, but the sensation is often enough to convince women that the product is working. Dr. Shah stresses that, “Skin “feeling” tighter is not the same as making a real change for the better in the tone or laxity of your skin. Using what really works will get you closer to the results you want.”

 THE HEROES

Dr. Shah says, “Sunscreen SPF 30 or above is the best anti-aging cream you can use.  It prevents skin cancer as well as UVA rays that cause loss of collagen and wrinkles in the skin.  Reapply every 2 hours, use a powder sun block and carry in your pocketbook for quick and easy sunscreen touchups.  My favorite powder sunblock is Colorescience, and my favorite base sunscreens have titanium or zinc oxide in them as active ingredients.”

Retinoids work great to reduce fine lines and wrinkles and help boost collagen production,” says Dr. Shah.”  He adds, “Over the counter retinols are decent. Neutrogena makes a good one, or prescriptions such as Retin-A.”

Glycolic acid also reduces fine lines and wrinkles and helps fade pigmentary damage from the sun.  “I often have patients alternate nights with retinoid and glycolic,” says Dr. Shah.

Vitamin C is a great antioxidant which reduces free radical damage and is great for anti-aging and helps brighten the skin.  Dr. Shah often recommends it in the morning, underneath sunblock, or at night if patients are too sensitive to tolerate retinoids and glycolic acid.

Ceramides are a type of lipid found in the membrane of cells. Dr. Shah states that, “They help hold skin cells together, forming a protective layer that plumps the skin and retains moisture. Ceramide levels decrease as we age which leads to loss of hydration, less skin turnover and dryer, more damaged skin. Replenishing the skin’s ceramide levels will help restore moisture and fortify the skin’s natural barrier, helping skin look and feel younger.” So use a ceramide containing moisturizer for your whole body daily.

Hydroquinone works to even out sun spots, blotches, and mottled skin. A little hydroquinone goes a long way. “It’s the most effective ingredient for bleaching skin,” says Dr. Shah.  Hydroquinone fades hyperpigmentation by blocking the enzyme that triggers melanin production in the skin.

Green Tea Extract is loaded with nutrients called polyphenols, which have been shown to fight free radicals. It is an amazing antioxidant. Studies have found that ingredients in green tea can reduce sun damage and may protect against skin cancer when applied topically. Dr. Shah offers that, “Using green tea extract under sunscreen can provide an extra dose of protection. Polyphenols in creams and lotions may help slow signs of aging, reduce sagging skin and decrease wrinkles.”

THE ZEROES

The majority of anti aging creams are still based on moisturizers such as mineral oil.  Wrinkles look worse when they are dry, so any kind of moisturizer helps, but it’s only temporary and doesn’t address the root cause of the wrinkles such as collagen loss, free radical damage, sun damage and environmental factors.  Don’t be fooled by the anti-aging labels.  Unless there is an actual “active ingredient” such as retinol, the benefit is just moisture but nothing else.

B Vitamins Many forms of vitamin B (like B12) can only be absorbed in the small intestine, so no matter how much is loaded into your moisturizer or serum, it’s not going to make a difference. “Vitamins like niacin can have an effect on the skin’s texture and color, but your skin can’t absorb them,” Dr. Shah explains. If you really want to tap into the power of vitamin B to improve your skin’s glow and appearance, stick to eating leafy greens like spinach, asparagus, beans, and peas.

Caffeine.  Much like a Starbucks Latte for your brain, caffeine in skin creams can give a boost to your skin, too. Until it wears off.  “Caffeine can temporarily reduce puffiness, especially around your eyes,” explains Dr. Shah.  “But don’t expect permanent results.”

Botanical extracts are ingredients extracted from plants (flowers, roots, stems, trees, etc.) for use in skin care for everything from healing blemishes to reducing fine wrinkles. They have been used for centuries and have anecdotal purposes in many cultures. The issue: Botanical extracts need to remain on your skin in order to work. Dr. Shah explains that, “In cleansers, there is simply not enough contact time on your skin for any true anti-aging benefit to take place. Another issue is that most botanical extracts are water soluble, which means that the moment you wet your skin and begin to wash your face, they’re watered down and rendered useless.”

Collagen and elastin in anti-wrinkle products. Collagen and elastin in skin-care products can serve as good water-binding agents, but they cannot fuse with your skin’s natural supply of these supportive elements. In most cases, the collagen molecule is too large to penetrate into the skin. But even when it is made small enough to be absorbed it cannot bind with the collagen existing in skin, and there isn’t any research indicating otherwise.

While this post isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list of the heroes and zeroes of skincare, it is a great place for most of us to start on our journey to better skin.

About Dr. Manish Shah

Plastic Surgeon Colorado | Dr. Manish Shah, M.D. | Denver

Manish Shah, M.D., F.A.C.S. was born in Canada and raised in the Washington, D.C. area. He graduated with honors from the University of Pennsylvania, receiving a degree in biomedical engineering. He then completed his medical training at the University of Virginia, earning his Medical Doctorate. During this time he also completed a one-year fellowship in microsurgery research at the New York University School of Medicine / Institute of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery. As a prelude to his plastic surgery training, Dr. Shah completed a rigorous five-year training program in General and Trauma Surgery at Emory University and the Medical College of Georgia. His formal training in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery was completed at the Univ. of Tennessee College of Medicine – Chattanooga Unit. After completing his plastic surgery training, he moved to New York City when he was selected for the prestigious Aesthetic Surgery Fellowship at Manhattan Eye, Ear, and Throat Hospital. He underwent extensive, advanced training in aesthetic surgery of the face, breasts, and body at the hands of some of the most renowned cosmetic surgeons in the world. This fellowship is widely considered to be the best of its kind in the world. Dr. Shah is one of only a select few plastic surgeons in the country who have undergone formal post-graduate training in aesthetic surgery.

Dr. Shah’s specialties include revision facial aesthetic surgery, rhinoplasty (“nose reshaping”), and aesthetic surgery of the breast (breast augmentation, breast lift, breast reduction). He is, however, well-trained in all areas of aesthetic surgery.

Dr. Shah’s aim is to obtain a natural appearing transformation that complements the real you!

Dr. Shah is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Surgery at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.  He is a past Chief of Plastic Surgery at Denver Health Medical Center. He also maintains a private practice in Aesthetic and Reconstructive Plastic Surgery in the Cherry Creek neighborhood of Denver.

Dr. Shah is a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, the European Academy of Facial Plastic Surgery, and the Rhinoplasty Society.

Dr. Shah is board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

 

Skincare 911: What to do when a skincare disaster erupts before a holiday party

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It’s something every woman fears: Waking up on the day before or day of a big holiday party with an unsightly skincare emergency. How many women have cancelled an invitation because a cold sore erupted? How about cystic acne on your chin that appears New Year’s Eve? While neither of these are “life threatening” conditions, for a woman, they might as well be. There are solutions. Dr. Manish Shah is a Denver Board Certified Plastic Surgeon. As a father to girls, he can relate to these skincare 911s and shares his expertise on what can be done to mitigate various conditions.

Problem: Cold Sore

Solution: Dr. Shah offers cortisone injections to patients who want to look better faster. “Very diluted cortisone into the cold sore, this can bring the inflammation down quite rapidly,” he says. If you are afraid of needles, call your doctor and ask him/her to call in a prescription for Valtrex, Famvir, or Acylovir, Dr. Shah says. You can pick up Abreva, an over-the-counter medication. If you can’t make it to the pharmacy, you can try some old-fashioned remedies: Visine will help take the red out. You can also use a cold compress and Tylenol or ibuprofen.

Problem: Allergic Reaction

Solution: The first thing you need to do is stop eating or using whatever is causing the allergic reaction. If the reaction happens a few days before an occasion, Dr. Shah recommends using hydrocortisone cream twice a day and taking Allegra, Claritin or Zyrtec which are longer acting and less sedating than Benadryl. Try a whole-milk compress for 10 minutes twice a day. For allergic reactions, use the hydrocortisone cream and then cover up redness by canceling it out entirely. The opposite of red is green, so apply green tinted concealer on the red area. The combination will create a flesh-toned hue. A good quality tinted moisturizer naturally has green/yellow undertones and also provides moisture to dry skin. “If this type of reaction is something you have never experienced before, go immediately to your dermatologist,” says Dr. Shah.

Problem: Cystic Acne Breakout

There are some people who use a lancet or small knife to cut into a cyst and fish out the clogged part of the pore. “Cutting open a cyst is extremely risky. You not only run the risk of getting an infection, but you also run the risk of scarring, as in a permanent skin indentation or protrusion,” says Dr. Shah. And what if you cut open a cyst but can’t squeeze out the root clog? You don’t know where the root is or how deep it resides inside your skin. You can’t even be 100% confident that you will be able to completely remove the hardened plug of the cyst. If any remnants of the clog remain, the cyst is likely to get re-inflamed and come back even worse. It’s also not exactly good to cut open skin and dig around and squeeze the wound. Doing so will only make a bloody mess, increase the chance of skin scarring, and prolong the time it takes the cyst to heal.

Solution: Here’s a secret that many a supermodel or actress use: Steroid shot. Dr. Shah explains that, “when we discuss treating acne with cortisone or “steroid” shots, we are referring to the process of gently placing a very dilute quantity of a “glucocorticoid” steroid into the cyst. Glucocorticoids are a class of steroid molecules that are naturally produced by our bodies and have numerous functions including the regulation of human metabolism, immunity, and inflammation. They have very potent anti-inflammatory effects, so they are often used to treat inflammatory diseases in medicine. They can be formulated as creams to treat skin rashes or as pills to treat systemic disease. They can also be injected directly into local areas of inflammation such as in arthritic joints and inflamed acne cysts. Within one or two days of injection into a cyst, the steroid will shrink the inflammation producing relief of pain and almost immediate cosmetic improvement.”

Problem: Puffy Eyes

Solution: The key to reducing the puffiness of puffy eyes is having something cool applied to them. “A cool compress or cooled cucumber slices applied for 5 to 10 minutes can constrict blood and lymph vessels,” says Dr. Shah. You can also use cool tea bags, which contain tannins and caffeine that will help reduce swelling. And, since puffy eyes can be caused by a high salt diet or alcohol, try to cut out both before an important occasion.

Problem: Sunburn

Solution: Take a cool bath or shower. Set the water to a cool temperature that’s just below lukewarm and relax for 10 to 20 minutes. The temperature will ease the pain, and the water will stop your skin from becoming as irritated. Repeat as often as you need to. Avoid using soap, bath oils, or other detergents as you bathe – they’ll irritate your skin and possibly make it even worse. If you have blisters forming on your skin, take a bath instead of showering. The pressure from the shower might pop your blisters. When you get out, don’t rub your skin dry with a towel. Instead, let yourself air dry, or pat the towel over your skin in small, gentle movements. Apply cold compresses to your skin. If you’re not in a situation where you can bathe, or you’d just prefer not to, you can instead apply cold, wet compresses to your skin. Dampen a washcloth or other piece of fabric with cold water and lay it over the affected area for 20 to 30 minutes. Re-wet it as often as you need to. Apply aloe vera to burned skin. Using the pads of your fingers, gently apply the aloe to your sunburn. Don’t “rub it in” all the way, like you might with a regular lotion. Leave it a bit goopy and moist on top of the burn – this helps prevent the skin from drying out and becoming more irritated. Reapply as often as necessary. Treat inflammation with cortisone cream (optional). Cortisone creams contain a small dose of steroids that can work to reduce inflammation to your sunburn.

Problem: Too much filler

The Solution: Dr. Shah suggests doing fillers no sooner than 1 month before a big event to allow time for healing and touch ups. One of the reasons Dr. Shah leans toward hyaluronic acid fillers such as Restylane, Juvederm and Perlane is because they are easily reversed with Hyaluronidase. This product dissolves and degrades the Restylane, Juvederm or Perlane so as to reverse the results of the initial injection. It’s a great insurance policy when choosing a practitioner. Make sure yours has it at his/her disposal. Most patients find the immediate results of soft tissue filler treatments very satisfying. If an undesirable result occurs, your treatment provider should be able to discuss and carry out all of the treatment options. Removing the effects of a “filler” treatment can be difficult. This is why any filler treatment needs to be done carefully, conservatively and only by very experienced and Board -Certified Specialists. Hyaluronic Acid based dermal fillers have the additional benefit of being partially or completely reversed with time or with the injection of a commercially available enzyme known as Hyaluronidase.

 

About Dr. Manish Shah

Plastic Surgeon Colorado | Dr. Manish Shah, M.D. | Denver

Manish Shah, M.D., F.A.C.S. was born in Canada and raised in the Washington, D.C. area. He graduated with honors from the University of Pennsylvania, receiving a degree in biomedical engineering. He then completed his medical training at the University of Virginia, earning his Medical Doctorate. During this time he also completed a one-year fellowship in microsurgery research at the New York University School of Medicine / Institute of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery. As a prelude to his plastic surgery training, Dr. Shah completed a rigorous five-year training program in General and Trauma Surgery at Emory University and the Medical College of Georgia. His formal training in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery was completed at the Univ. of Tennessee College of Medicine – Chattanooga Unit. After completing his plastic surgery training, he moved to New York City when he was selected for the prestigious Aesthetic Surgery Fellowship at Manhattan Eye, Ear, and Throat Hospital. He underwent extensive, advanced training in aesthetic surgery of the face, breasts, and body at the hands of some of the most renowned cosmetic surgeons in the world. This fellowship is widely considered to be the best of its kind in the world. Dr. Shah is one of only a select few plastic surgeons in the country who have undergone formal post-graduate training in aesthetic surgery.

Dr. Shah’s specialties include revision facial aesthetic surgery, rhinoplasty (“nose reshaping”), and aesthetic surgery of the breast (breast augmentation, breast lift, breast reduction). He is, however, well-trained in all areas of aesthetic surgery.

Dr. Shah’s aim is to obtain a natural appearing transformation that complements the real you!

Dr. Shah is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Surgery at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.  He is a past Chief of Plastic Surgery at Denver Health Medical Center. He also maintains a private practice in Aesthetic and Reconstructive Plastic Surgery in the Cherry Creek neighborhood of Denver.

Dr. Shah is a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, the European Academy of Facial Plastic Surgery, and the Rhinoplasty Society.

Dr. Shah is board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

Dr. Shah’s Favorite Anti-Aging Supplements

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A healthy diet and regular exercise are of course the most important habits to maintain in order to feel as good as possible as the years go by. Dietary fads come and go, but a diet consisting primarily of fruits and vegetables (and avoidance of processed sugar) will always be important no matter what the current trend.

Keeping your body moving is also important not only for your physical health, but also for your mental health. Regular aerobic exercise, the kind that gets your heart pumping and makes you sweat, appears to boost the size of the hippocampus, the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning according to a study at the University of British Columbia. As we age, it’s also important to incorporate exercises that improve your balance. Walking is good. Cycling, rebounding, and Tai Chi are even better.

That being said, Dr. Shah believes that supplements can also play an important role in helping the brain and body adapt to stress and meet the challenges associated with aging. He takes a few supplements to be at his best physically and mentally with his busy life as a doctor and father of three. If you are interested in supplementation, you can pick and choose from the following categories if there are particular areas you’d like to focus on.

For overall health: A food based multivitamin/multimineral. Even if you are eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, typically the farm land on which they’ve been grown has been tilled for so many decades that it’s depleted of nutrients. Vitamins and minerals perform a wide range of functions in the body that encompass mood, metabolism, cardiac health, bone and skin health, and more. Vitamin C, for example, plays a role in collagen production in the skin to keep it looking firm. And unfortunately, unless you are preparing all your meals from your own garden, it is difficult to achieve optimum vitamin and mineral levels from the food you eat alone. People often have low levels of certain nutrients, commonly vitamin D and magnesium. A food based multi will contain a complex of nutrients that work together to increase absorption so Dr. Shah recommends them over cheaper multivitamins such as Centrum(TM).

Antioxidants: A multivitamin will contain the antioxidants vitamins C, E, and the mineral selenium. Antioxidants help to prevent oxidative damage to your cells that occurs naturally as by-products of normal body processes, from certain medications, and from air pollution. For even stronger anti-oxidant protection, Dr. Shah also takes astaxanthin. Astaxanthin has also been proven to improve eye health and reduce inflammation. (Buy only astaxanthin sourced from microalgae.) You can learn more about free radical damage, antioxidants, and astaxanthin HERE.

For brain health: Beginning an Omega-3 regimen as early in life as possible is helpful for optimizing brain function and preventing memory loss. Omega 3’s are also important for cardiac support and cell permeability to help the cells absorb nutrients. You can learn more about omega 3’s HERE. If you feel you need extra support with brain function or memory, a Lion’s Mane mushroom supplement is a great addition to an Omega-3 supplement.

For mood: Omega-3 supplements and the vitamin D and B vitamins found in a multi-vitamin are also helpful for mood. If you feel you need additional mood support for mild depression or anxiety, St. John’s wort has been shown to be effective for some people although it may take 1 – 3 months for it to take effect so be patient. St. John’s wort should not be taken with birth control pills, antidepressants, HIV medications, or blood thinners so if you are on any of these medications you should try 5-HTP instead.

Stress/adrenal health: Excess daily stress causes an ongoing “fight or flight” response whereby the stress hormones adrenaline, norepinephrine, and cortisol can become elevated causing excess wear on the body and also causing the body to hold on to fat stores. Trouble sleeping through the night is another effect. If you feel you lead a particularly stressful life and could benefit from some extra adrenal support, you can try holy basil, rhodiola, or ashwaganda (or an adrenal formula containing one or more of these). Rhodiola is especially good to take before workouts to promote endurance or try holy basil if you suffer from anxiety or sleeplessness.

For high altitude locations such as here in Denver, Colorado, you may want to try a chlorophyll supplement to help oxygenate the blood. Especially if you feel fatigued or experience dizziness, sleeplessness, or headaches.

IMPORTANT NOTE: It’s important to always buy quality supplements. Buying from a reputable health food store is recommended as they have high quality standards that their suppliers must meet. Buying supplements from other retailers or online outlets may be cheaper but unfortunately can be risky in terms of the quality, potency, or even authenticity of product you may be getting.

Mommy Makeover – What You Need to Know

Motherhood, with its ups and downs, provides the satisfaction of knowing that you have the opportunity to leave a good impression on this planet through the child you raise. However, one universally acknowledged downside of motherhood happens to be the toll it takes on the body.  For women who decide that they no longer want to live with the changes resulting from childbirth, there is the Mommy Makeover. The Mommy Makeover procedure consists of several procedures that address changes to the breasts and abdominal areas as the result of pregnancy and childbirth.

Breasts

Breasts can change significantly during the process of pregnancy and breast-feeding. Breasts can get large, stretch out, involute (shrink), or stay the same size.  Areolae can stretch out and change shape.  Many women complain of a loss of fullness in the upper pole (upper part of breasts).  All these changes permanently alter the aesthetics of the breasts. While some of these changes can be camouflaged with bras and clothing, the limitations of these maneuvers mean that women still may have difficulty finding clothes that fit well and that they may still not be comfortable with the appearance of their breasts when naked.

Procedures such as breast augmentation with either implants or fat can revolumize the breasts providing fullness and better shape.  If the breasts hang too low, a mastopexy or breast lift operation can be performed to tighten the breast envelope placing the breasts higher on the chest wall in a more compact space.  A smaller percentage of women end up with large breasts after multiple pregnancies due to the amount of pregnancy hormone exposure.  For these women, excess breast tissue can lead to both aesthetic and functional problems.  Breast reduction surgery is an incredibly successful option to both reduce the size of breasts and lift/shape them.

Abdomen

The most obvious area of change from childbirth is the abdomen.  As a baby grows inside the womb, and the body responds to pregnancy hormones, the abdomen changes by stretching out the rectus abdominus (“6-pack”) muscles and thin out support structures like ligaments, etc.  After delivery, most women are left with some amount of loose skin and split musculature.  The greater the number of pregnancies, the worse the situation becomes.  Unfortunately, all the sit-ups in the world won’t fix this.

An abdominoplasty or tummy tuck operation is designed to improve this situation. This procedure involves removal of excess skin of the abdominal wall via an incision low on the tummy and around the belly button.  If the rectus muscles are split, then they can be repaired at the same time.  Repair of the muscles creates a corset effect tightening lax abdominal wall.

Excess fat

Lots of things happen both during pregnancy and in the years to follow.  For many women, the day to day aspects of living often make it so that their needs take a back seat to the needs of others.  Stress, poor nutrition, aging, etc. result in changes to the body.  The most common change is an increase in body fat.  When this can’t be corrected through diet, exercise, and changes in lifestyle, the options of surgical liposuction and non-surgical fat removal are available to those healthy enough for aesthetic intervention.

There are lots of options for liposuction and are well-described here.

Stretch marks

Stretch marks are definitely a problem for many women both before and after pregnancy.  Hormonal changes and stretching of the skin can result in breaks in the skin called striae, or stretch marks.  In the past there were few options for improving the stretch marks.  Nowadays, patients have a good number of options to help reduce the appearance of stretch marks.  In my practice, we offer the  Venus Viva, which is an RF (radiofrequency) microneedling device that can be used to tighten loose skin and rebuild collagen in the broken skin that leads to the development of stretch marks.  Several treatments are required, but the results tend to be very satisfying.

As you may have surmised by now, a Mommy Makeover is a very personal procedure custom-designed for each patient.  Some women will need only one procedure, while other women will need several procedures to achieve their goals. If you would like more information about the Mommy Makeover procedure, give us a call at 303-708-8234 or visit us at http://drmanishshah.com.

Antioxidants: Things You May Already Know And Some Things You Probably Don’t!

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Antioxidants protect the body from damage caused by free radicals. What’s a free radical you ask? A free radical is a harmful molecule that causes damage to the body’s cells and may contribute to aging. Some experts believe that this damage also plays a role in the development of some diseases including atherosclerosis and cancer. Free radicals come from a variety of sources. They come about naturally as by-products of normal body processes or when certain medications are metabolized. You are also exposed to free radicals through pollutants in the air.

A useful metaphor to understand antioxidants and free radical damage is to think of the paint on an old car. As the paint is exposed to the elements, it slowly breaks down or becomes oxidized and you can see the effects of the oxidation in the way the finish looks faded and dull. Think of free radical damage as having a similar oxidative effect on your cells, and antioxidants as protection from that damage which happens on a continuous basis through daily living.

Vitamin C and vitamin E are considered antioxidants as is the mineral selenium and plant based nutrients known as flavonoids. Of course, eating lots of fruits and vegetables are a good source of these antioxidants. Berries in particular are high in antioxidants (especially blackberries and blueberries). Also notably high in antioxidants are apples, plums, prunes, grapes, raisins, oranges, peaches, mangoes, melons, and artichoke hearts. Walnuts and pecans are also high in antioxidants and of course dark chocolate is famously high in antioxidants. But there are also many culinary herbs that are incredibly potent antioxidants, so the more of these herbs you add to your food the better! Many of them have other added benefits as well. Some examples of antioxidant herbs that do double duty…

  • Cloves have antimicrobial properties and are the strongest of all the antioxidant culinary herbs
  • Cinnamon is a potent antioxidant and also helps metabolize sugar
  • Oregano has antibacterial and antioxidant properties and can speed up the production of white blood cells
  • Turmeric and ginger are potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant herbs

Other culinary herbs that are good sources of antioxidants are cumin, dried parsley, curry, sage, mustard seed, black pepper, thyme, marjoram, and chili powder so spice it up! India is known for having a lower incidence of most diseases, possibly because of the heavily spiced foods common in the Indian diet. So make your way to Bombay Clay Oven or Little India here in Denver for some curry or masala. Or better yet, learn to cook some delicious Indian dishes at home! Onward with our antioxidant discussion….

Dr. Shah’s favorite antioxidant is astaxanthin which is a red carotenoid. It is a uniquely superior antioxidant because it filters into every cell of the body. And its unique molecular lipophilic and hydrophilic properties allow it to saturate the entire cell, protecting both the fat soluble and water soluble parts of the cell. A 2007 study found it to be 6,000 times stronger than vitamin C, 800 times stronger than CoQ10, and 550 times stronger than green tea.

Astaxanthin is what makes salmon, shrimp, lobster, and crab pink or red in color. Astaxanthin also has a variety of other benefits in addition to being a great antioxidant. A naturally derived supplement made from microalgae is the best way to get all of the benefits. Eating the seafood mentioned above gives you a little but doesn’t give you enough to be considered a therapeutic dose. There have been hundreds of medical research experiments showing the health benefits of astaxanthin supplements sourced from microalgae as well as extensive safety trials. And unlike beta-carotene, an orange carotenoid, astaxanthin never becomes pro-oxidant or damaging to the body in higher doses. Just make sure you are taking a supplement with only microalgae as the source of astaxanthin. 12 mg per day is an optimal dose, however it is expensive so you may want to take less.

The other benefits of super-antioxidant astaxanthin:

Relieving pain and inflammation—Similar to the often prescribed drug Celebrex for arthritis and acute pain, Astaxanthin has been proven to block the COX2 enzymes responsible for pain signaling but without the risk of addiction, heartburn, or GI bleeding. It has also been proven to reduce C-reactive protein (CRP) by more than 20 percent in only 8 weeks. (CRP is a marker for inflammation and the American Heart Association names it as a key indicator of heart disease.)

Eye health—Astaxanthin has the unique ability to reach your retina with its antioxidant goodness. Clinical trials have shown that it helps with retinopathy, macular degeneration, eye strain, and even helps you read fine print. Dr. Shah has noticed the improvement in his eyesight since taking Astaxanthin.

Great skin and sunscreen protection—there are consistent studies showing that Astaxanthin is excellent for helping maintain skin moisture, smoothness, and elasticity. And it actually reduces UV damage from the sun so take it with you (along with your sunscreen, of course) to the beach or your favorite Colorado hiking trails!

So there you have it, folks! Hopefully you have learned something you didn’t already know about the wonderful world of antioxidants. If you have any questions about antioxidants or nutrition, please drop us a line at info@drmanishshah.com. (Note: Dr. Shah has no financial interest in the manufacture or sale of any astaxanthin products.)

Omega-3’s… What are they and why are they good for you?

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February is Heart Health Month!

Should I take an Omega-3 supplement for my heart or should I just eat more fish? What if I am vegetarian or vegan? And what are the other benefits of Omega-3’s?

No doubt by now you’ve heard a lot about Omega-3’s. You may have wondered—should I take a supplement? If so, does it really matter which brand I choose? Or should I just incorporate more Omega-3’s into my diet? What exactly do they do? What if I’m vegetarian or vegan and don’t want to eat fish or take a fish oil supplement?

Well, wonder no more! Here’s an all-inclusive look at how Omega-3’s function in the body and what diseases they may help you to stave off, as well as information about increasing your Omega-3 intake whether you are vegetarian/vegan or not.

Omega-3 fatty acids regulate cellular processes as well as producing and balancing hormones. Hormones are critical to the proper functioning of all the body’s systems. Think of them as messengers who tell the body and the brain what to do as far as metabolizing food, sleeping, mood, reproduction, and so on. Omega-3’s also increase cell membrane permeability for better nutrient absorption into the cells and they also help keep toxins out of your cells for better cell health and longevity. Healthy fats are also important in helping the body absorb fat soluble vitamins A, D, and E, and K (from food or from supplements).

Your body does not produce Omega-3’s, they come only from your diet or from supplements. There are two Omega 3’s, known as EPA and DHA. In addition to their role in hormone production and cell permeability, Omega-3’s are also anti-inflammatory. Inflammation is the source of almost all disease including heart disease so increasing your Omega-3 intake is a great way to lower your risk of heart and other diseases.

The potential heart health benefits of Omega 3’s:

  •  Helps with lowering blood pressure
  • Helps with lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol
  •  Helps with keeping the heart beating regularly
  •  Helps reduce the risk of a heart attack
  •  Helps reduce the risk of stroke by thinning the blood

Some additional potential benefits of Omega 3’s:

  •  Can help with balancing blood sugar which helps curb sugar and carb cravings thereby lowering the risk of diabetes and obesity
  •  Supports myelin sheath strength (the fatty acid layer that covers nerve fibers in the brain)–this helps with brain synapse function for better mental focus and brain health
  • Can help with memory and with reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease which is again related to inflammation
  • Can help with ADD, ADHD, and dyslexia
  • Can help maintain a positive mood
  • Can help with mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder– for mood disorders, you should take a high EPA fish oil supplement
  • DHA supplementation was shown in one study to reduce stress and aggression
  • Can help with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis– for arthritis, it is best to take an Omega 3-6-9 combination supplement
  • Can help with gastro intestinal issues such as constipation, IBS, colitis, and Crohn’s disease—for GI problems, it is best to take an Omega 3-6-9 supplement

Consuming more wild caught fish, grass fed meat, and nuts (especially walnuts) is a great way to increase your Omega-3 intake although taking a supplement is an easy way to get a consistent, optimal dose. A 1000 mg. daily dose of fish oil (usually one soft gel) is probably sufficient if you don’t have a particular health problem although you can do up to 4000 mg. daily for maximum benefit or if you have a specific health condition. Fish oil soft gels can be frozen if stomach upset or “fish burps” occur.

If you decide to take a supplement, it’s important to take a high quality supplement. With cheaper brands, it’s likely that the oil was not kept cool during processing which causes it to oxidize and degrade. Once fish oil becomes rancid, it becomes pro-inflammatory rather than anti-inflammatory. Natural FactorsTM manufactures a cost effective, high quality Omega-3 supplement if cost is a concern. There are many other brands of high quality fish oil, however.

TIP! Take Vitamin C with your fish oil! It’s an inexpensive antioxidant that will help keep the fish oil fresh for maximum benefit as it travels through your digestive tract. And Vitamin C has the added benefit of helping build collagen to keep your skin looking firm and your blood vessels, muscles, and bones stronger!

Omega-6’s were mentioned earlier in reference to Omega 3-6-9 supplements. People are often confused about Omega-6’s. There are two, one called GLA and another called arachidonic acid. GLA is anti-inflammatory and most people do not get enough in their diet. Arachidonic acid is pro- inflammatory and most people get too much in their diet. So increasing both your Omega-3 and Omega-6 GLA intake helps to counteract the pro-inflammatory arachidonic acid that most people get too much of in their diet. Another benefit of GLA is that it’s great for your skin. It can help your skin stay moist in our dry climate here in Denver and can help with skin conditions such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis. Supplementation (borage or evening primrose oil) is the easiest way to increase your GLA intake although hemp seeds and hemp oil are good dietary sources of both Omega-3’s and GLA.

Finally, for people who are vegetarian or vegan it is even more important that you incorporate extra Omega-3’s into your diet as a vegetarian diet is typically low in Omega-3’s. In addition to the benefits already mentioned, the Omega-3 DHA is important for avoiding neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease which can be a higher health risk for vegetarians/vegans later in life. Eating lots of nuts can help, especially walnuts, as well as hemp seeds and hemp oil. And there are several vegetarian DHA supplements derived from algae although they are fairly expensive. Look for the brand name Ovega-3TM for a vegetarian supplement containing both DHA and EPA.

If you have any questions about Omega-3’s, you can send us an e-mail at info@drmanishshah.com.

What is Hyaluronic Acid? And Why Do You Want It?

Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a natural substance found in your own body as well as in topical serums and creams. Believe it or not, it is also the primary active ingredient in most injectable fillers used to replace lost volume in the face, for contouring purposes, or to fill in wrinkles and smooth the skin.


Hyaluronic acid is not an acid in the typical sense. It’s not a harsh chemical and it doesn’t strip your skin. In fact, it loves water. HA is a polysaccharide (complex sugar) that can absorb up to 1000 times its own weight in water. Application of HA-containing products leads to increased moisture in the skin which is especially great in dry climates.


In your body, HA is found in several places. It’s located in between skin cells, where it holds water keeping the skin plump and moist. It’s also found in the eyes and in joint spaces, providing lubrication and shock absorption. As we age, the amount of HA in our bodies is diminished. This leads to volume loss, dullness, and a more weathered appearance of the skin.


There are no skin conditions or skin types that cannot benefit from use of HA. In fact, most OTC beauty products that claim to be anti-aging will have at least a small amount of HA in them. Medical grade products, however, will contain higher levels and a higher quality grade of HA. HA serums and creams can be used under sunscreen and other products to humidify the skin and keep it plump and firm, reducing fine lines and wrinkles. Consistent, prolonged use leads to long-term support for the youthful appearance of the skin.


Shah Aesthetic Surgery recently launched Alchemy, our medical grade skin care product line containing HA. Our moisturizer for daytime use contains a high level of hyaluronic acid to increase water content in the skin, firming and plumping up the delicate tissues of the face where our skin needs the most support. Colorado’s semi-arid climate is very drying to the skin so it’s especially important to give it some extra support to keep it moisturized.


You can also find HA in pill form. Long term benefits of taking HA supplements are unknown. It may do you some good and there are no safety concerns, but using HA topically is a more sure fire way to benefit the skin.


As mentioned, HA is also found in injectable fillers such as RestylaneTM, BeloteroTM, JuvedermTM, and VolumaTM. These fillers have very consistent results in replacing lost volume in the face, contouring, filling in wrinkles, and smoothing the skin. HA fillers last between 6 and 24 months depending on which filler is used. At our office in Denver, Dr. Shah is an expert injector for these fillers and in using them is able to achieve significantly improved, natural looking results. Injectable fillers with HA are a very widely used non-surgical cosmetic treatment.


Another use of hyaluronic acid is in the treatment of osteoarthritis. Injections of HA into the joint can help improve shock absorption in joints affected by OA. Injections can also give temporary relief from joint pain, especially when combined with other treatments for OA.

With its many applications, use of hyaluronic acid is an important player in anti-aging both cosmetically and physically. If you are interested in use of HA in skin care or injectable fillers, contact us for more information.