Ask your questions, we have answers.

Are there specific things I can eat to help firm up loose skin?
Bertha Gonzalez • Baldwin Park, CA
It goes without saying that exercise and sunscreen are critically important to toning and firming one’s skin. But, thinking about skin health from the inside out is also a great place to start! Carotenoid nutrients, a large group of pigments produced by plants, are important to skin health. They protect tissues from sun exposure, are highly effective antioxidants, may contribute to a lower risk of certain cancers and heart disease, and play a role against obesity and excess body fat. In addition, these nutrients protect and heal our skin from the inside. There are four carotenoids that I recommend you eat daily for skin health:
Beta carotene found in carrots, kale, spinach, mango, cantaloupe, sweet potato, and apricots.
Lycopene is in tomato products, goji berries, guava, watermelon, and papaya.
Zeaxanthin is found in orange bell pepper, mango, orange, honeydew melon, and corn.
Lutein from kale, spinach, collards, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, peppers, squash, kiwi, and grapes.
Eat some of these foods every day to help keep your skin firm.

What daily vitamins or supplements will help optimize my health?
Tamara Jafar • Calabasas, CA
Supplements are helpful when food alone is simply not enough to meet your nutritional needs. There are five supplements I suggest considering, which can help optimize your healthy lifestyle. First, fish oil because it is rich in omega 3 acids which are necessary for a healthy heart and brain. Second, include a daily probiotic to help keep your gut healthy and immune system strong. Third, I recommend taking a daily supplement of vitamin D for strong bones, muscles and overall health. During the summer, it’s easy to get 15 to 20 minutes of vitamin D filled sun exposure, but during winter, you may need some additional support. Fourth, another important supplement is magnesium which plays a role in metabolizing food, synthesis of fatty acids and proteins and it’s great to take in the evening to help you get a better night’s sleep and manage stress levels. Finally, include a plant-based protein supplement to support muscle gain and fat loss.

How can I start to introduce a more plant-based diet when my family loves meat?
Romy Brook • Brisbane, CA
This is something I am familiar with because I am doing something similar. Here are four simple steps to transition easily to a wholesome, plant-based diet:
Start slow – Rotate in a few plant-based meals during your weekly routine. Introduce main dishes like bean and rice burritos, brown rice and veggie stir-fry, pasta primavera or three-bean chili.
Commit to plant-based breakfast – A wholesome, vegetarian breakfast is a good place to start. There are many great recipes for vegetarian treats like breakfast muffins, toast, waffles, pancakes, parfaits and smoothie bowls.
Stock up on healthy foods – Explore the vegetarian and fresh produce aisles at your local supermarket. Make nutritious, plant-based foods and healthy snacks easily accessible on the kitchen counter, snack drawer and in the fridge.
Keep your meals fun and exciting – Check the internet for a wide variety of recipe options and ideas to liven up your meals. Remember changes take time, so take it easy on yourself and your family as you develop a new plant-based diet.

By Marisa Gonzalez