One of the stranger panels I've had the honor of attending was held recently in Palm Beach, Florida. Organized by the estimable Parker B Ladd, the Author Series featured yours truly--and a dermatologist, Dr. Nicholas Perricone, author of a book called Forever Young. Woops...not this Forever Young, from Bob Dylan, who is, come to think of it, quite another sort of forever young--joy! But this one from the good doctor. I couldn't quite figure out how to connect our presentations on this panel, until I had a brainstorm: I would represent forever young on the inside; he could tell us about staying young on the outside.
I had seen Dr. Perricone's picture on a very large poster in his eponymous shop on Madison Avenue, which I avoided, but otherwise I was unfamiliar with his work. I have to confess to a knee-jerk attitude of suspicion, partly because I assume any Madison Avenue dermatologist greets visitors with a needle, and partly because we all know that it is impossible to be forever young. Why pretend?
I got an attitude lift. Dr. Perricone turned out to be interesting, serious, unpretentious, and winning. Furthermore, his thinking has a lot to do with the benefits of being young in spirit, too. He's a big proponent of--yes, there it is again, sorry guys--yoga.
So I've been reading his book. His advice on diet is inspiring. Needless to say, he was aghast at my cookie diet, pointing out that sugar is addictive, feeds depressions, and inflammation. I've now added to my meals lots of watercress, pictured above as a book garnish, carrots, flax and chia (remember pet rocks?) seeds (shown above). I'm taking B vitamins. He recommends eating lots of salmon.
He advises at least 15 minutes a day of sunshine on bare skin--no sunscreen--for the vitamin D. Someone in the audience asked him about Botox, so for all my friends who are flirting with the idea--or who have consummated a relationship with the needle: Dr. Perricone advised against the use of botulinum toxin, a neurotoxic protein that relaxes contractions of the muscles, smoothing out wrinkles, by blocking nerve impulses. He explained that while the muscle is paralyzed, it atrophies. So when the Botox wears off, you are left with an even weaker muscle. Botox may be a quick fix, but it isn't a smart fix in the long run.
It has been a while since I heard a beauty lecture--something that was always part of the buzz at Conde Nast. Perricone has created, and is selling, skin creams and nutritional supplements, and he is promoting something called the "metabolic diet". Of course his book is part of marketing those things. Still, I picked up some useful information. And it is helpful, as we age, to tune in now and again to what the scientists and doctors have to say--even if you cherry pick the information (or ignore it.) I'll be happy if I can achieve forever healthy--at least until I drop dead.
I was feeling a bit deficient in the old credential department, on a panel up against an M.D. All I can market is Slow Love, a book that tells you to spend a few minutes every day peering into the heart of a snowdrop, the wings of a dragonfly, or the eyes of a child. But come to think of it, that just might keep you--and, added bonus, others around you--young even longer than forever.