[By Wong ping]
Many of us have tried rubbing anti-aging creams on our faces and bodies to eliminate wrinkles, but what if taking a pill could yield better results? According to international scientific journal The New Scientist, a new three-a-day “gene food” capsule may possibly be a the first pill of its kind to succeed in banishing wrinkles from the inside out
How does it work?
As women age and estrogen production drops off towards menopause, enzymes called proteases become more active, reducing the sponginess of skin by clearing away collagen faster than can be replaced. In addition, an estrogen receptor that aids the generation of collagen also becomes less active. The two effects combine to make skin less pliable and more wrinkly.
Scientist John Casey and his team at the Unilever labs in Sharnbrook, UK used skin cultures and gene activity tests to ascertain the effect of certain natural food extracts on “master” genes, which orchestrate the behavior of lots of other genes – in this case, those involved in collagen synthesis. The blend that activated these genes most strongly included vitamins C and E plus isoflavones from soya, lycopene from tomatoes and omega-3 polyunsaturated acids from fish oil.
Show me the Proof!
Unilever commissioned four different research groups to test the pills along with 480 post-menopausal women in the UK, France, and Germany. New Scientist was shown the physical results after women took the pill three times a day for 14 weeks: crow’s feet are said to become 10% shallower on average during that time, although some testers found a 30% decrease in wrinkles. Researchers advise taking the pills for at least three months to see the best results.
In one of the French studies, researchers also took 4-millimetre-deep biopsies from 110 women before and after treatment to study the production of collagen – a protein that is a key structural component of skin. Antibodies that stain tissue red where new collagen is produced revealed that after treatment a fifth of recipients had significantly more fresh collagen in the deepest skin layer – the dermis – than those who had received a placebo. More sensitive tests will be needed to ascertain any differences in the remaining biopsies, says Casey
Here’s the before and after photos of wrinkle reduction after 14 weeks. Photo by Unilever.
So what exactly is in the magic capsule?
The concept behind “gene foods” is to put back into our modern diets the ingredients from berries, nuts and fruits that were abundant in the food of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. Evidence is mounting that many of these ingredients have profound effects on master genes that keep tissue and organs healthy, reducing inflammation and damage.
Unilever’s blend includes:
- Isoflavones from soya- these activate oestrogen receptors that trigger the skin to make collagen.
- Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids taken from fish oil, which activate a master gene called PPAR that is also involved in collagen synthesis
- Other ingredients are vitamin E, vitamin C and lycopene, all known to promote tissue health. “
Preliminary results from Unilever suggest that activating the master genes raises the activity of several other genes that make proteins vital for good skin tone, such as elastin, decorin and several anti-inflammatory molecules.
How do I get one?
Unilever have launched the capsules in 44 spas that it co-owns in the UK, Spain and Canada. No special approval was required since the extracts used are already in use and the company isn’t claiming they benefit your health.
The supplements are also available from Unilever’s Dove Spa website. Priced at 35 British Pounds for 84 capsules, which is a 28 day supply.
It will be interesting to see how well the pills sell, and if they make it to this part of the world soon!