The FACE Program (for better skin)

Dr. Shawn Talbott (Ph.D., CNS, LDN, FACSM, FACN, FAIS) has gone from triathlon struggler to gut-brain guru! With a Ph.D. in Nutritional Biochemistry, he's on a mission to boost everyday human performance through the power of natural solutions and the gut-brain axis.

Best Future YouHarnessing Your Body’s Biochemistry to Achieve Balance in Body, Mind, and Spirit

My 13th book, Best Future You, is out!

Over the next several weeks, I’ll be posting excerpts from the book and blogging frequently about the main concept in the book – which is the idea of harnessing your body’s internal cellular biochemistry to achieve true balance in body, mind, and spirit – and in doing so, help you to become your “Best Future You” in terms of how you look, how you feel, and how you perform on every level.

Chapter 7 – Look Your Best

The FACE Program

FACE is an acronym that I’ve used for several years when educating people about the value of CDR activation (topically and internally) for reducing cellular stress and improving our ability to protect and repair cellular damage. CDR activation helps to coordinate myriad cellular signals for optimal tissue balance, including Free radicals (“F”), Advanced glycation end-products (“A”), Cortisol (“C”), and Eicosanoids (“E”). Free radicals have to do with oxidation, AGEs with blood-sugar levels, and eicosanoids (referred to as “cytokines” in other sections) with inflammation.

The premise of “FACE” is that the outward appearance of beautiful skin starts on the inside, and that wrinkled, blemished skin is not an inevitable result of aging. Nor is problem skin something that can only be dealt with by expensive, often abrasive outside-in means. This all-natural approach to beautiful skin and a youthful complexion is based on the latest scientific evidence and years of real-life experience with hundreds of participants.

I never set out to write a book about beauty – or about skin health for that matter. Many years ago, when I was a young Ph.D. student at Rutgers University, my focus was on bone metabolism – specifically, on uncovering the complex interactions between nutrition, lifestyle, and osteoporosis. In our lab, we studied the interplay of diet and exercise on collagen. Through our studies and those of our scientific colleagues, we came to understand that collagen metabolism (and thus the health of our skin and bones and other connective tissues) can be influenced by the stressful world around us. Our lab was among the first in the world to show that the psychological and physical “stress” of dieting for weight loss increased cortisol levels and contributed to a faster breakdown of collagen-containing tissues, such as bone and skin.

Today, the scientific community accepts the fact that chronic cellular stress leads to rapid breakdown in other tissues, including brain neurons, blood vessels, muscles, immune cells, and many more. Because collagen is the chief protein in skin, this cortisol-induced acceleration of collagen breakdown inevitably leads to skin problems, including wrinkles, acne, and uneven skin tone. Collagen breakdown and skin damage can also be hastened by other factors, including metabolic processes, such as inflammation, oxidation, and glycation. Imbalances in each of these four processes is well documented in the scientific and medical literature as resulting in the rapid and dramatic effects that we view as premature aging – but each of these can be managed within healthful levels via proper activation of the CDR pathways.

However, until I conducted a particular weight-loss program, none of this had any direct meaning for me. I am not a dermatologist, but a nutritional biochemist, trained in sports medicine, health management, and exercise physiology. For the last decade or so, my career has been focused on using nutrition and other lifestyle strategies to help people lose weight and improve their health. To this end, I designed and conducted a series of popular and very successful weight-loss programs. They generally run three or four times each year, and we always have a waiting list. They take place near Salt Lake City, Utah, where I now live with my wife and two children.

These programs follow a regimen that I call the SENSE program, because it incorporates Stress/Sleep management, Exercise, Nutrition, Supplementation, and Evaluation. Participants invariably experience fat loss, muscle gain, increased energy, improved mood, reduced stress, elevated libido, and a host of related benefits. Best of all, our participants never feel deprived, hungry, or as though they are following a “diet.” In fact, in the early weeks of each session, there are always several participants who declare that the program will never work for them because it’s “too easy.” Our response is always the same: “Trust us,” we say. “Just stick with the program for a few weeks, and you’ll see the benefits.” They do-and they’re amazed.

My discovery of the “CDR/Beauty” connection was something of an accident. During the first few years that we were running the SENSE weight-loss programs, participants would comment that they “felt great” and thought they “looked better.” At first, my staff and I always interpreted those positive comments as a reflection of the participants’ excitement about finally being able to lose weight and keep it off. Eventually, however, it dawned on us that there might be something more at work here.

We got this “sense” when we recruited a group of participants, who were already fit and lean, to see whether our SENSE program could help them control their perception of stress relative to eating during a traditionally high-stress period of time (the holiday season from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day). These mostly young, good-looking, successful men and women didn’t have very much weight to lose; they simply got stressed out during the holidays and gained weight as a result of stress eating.

After they finished the program, they also told us that they felt and looked better, which we found very interesting. We could understand the “feel better” part, because we discovered that their stress and cortisol levels were reduced by about 20 percent after they’d followed the SENSE program. But the “look better” part was a surprise (remember, these folks already looked pretty darn good). Our unexpected discovery was that the same SENSE program that made them feel less stressed out (and that had helped previous overweight participants lose weight) was also delivering some very noticeable beauty benefits. Our participants found that by controlling their overall “psychological” stress levels they were also controlling their underlying “cellular” stress levels. As a result, their wrinkles were reduced, their skin wasn’t breaking out, and their skin (especially facial skin) was clearer, smoother, and more youthful in appearance. Another interesting finding that went hand-in-hand with looking and feeling better was that their sex drive (libido) was improved. Needless to say, this freaked out the parents in the program whose teenagers were participating and grossed out the teens in the program whose parents were participating.

It turns out that all these effects-from weight loss to enhanced mood to healthy skin to improved libido-are the result of controlling cellular stress. However, even when we explained the connections in proper, scientifically sound, and rational terms, our participants insisted on referring to the program as the “fountain-of-youth class.”

Thanks for reading – be sure to tune in for the next installment about “The Science Behind CDR’s Skin-Protecting Benefits.

Shawn M Talbott, PhD, CNS, LDN, FACSM, FAIS, FACN
Nutritional Biochemist and Author
801-915-1170 (mobile)


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The Secret of Vigor – How to Overcome Burnout, Restore Biochemical Balance, and Reclaim Your Natural Energy
Killer at Large – Why Obesity is America’s Greatest Threat – an award-winning documentary film exploring the causes and solutions underlying the American obesity epidemic
The Cortisol Connection – Why Stress Makes You Fat and Ruins Your Health (Hunter House)
The Cortisol Connection Diet – The Breakthrough Program to Control Stress and Lose Weight (Hunter House)
Cortisol Control and the Beauty Connection – The All-Natural Inside-Out Approach to Reversing Wrinkles, Preventing Acne, And Improving Skin Tone (Hunter House)
Natural Solutions for Pain-Free Living – Lasting Relief for Flexible Joints, Strong Bones and Ache-Free Muscles (Chronicle Publishers – Currant Books)
The Immune Miracle – The All-Natural Approach for Better Health, Increased Energy and Improved Mood (GLH Nutrition, 2012)
A Guide to Understanding Dietary Supplements – an Outstanding Academic Text of 2004 (Haworth Press)
About the Author

Exercise physiologist (MS, UMass Amherst) and Nutritional Biochemist (PhD, Rutgers) who studies how lifestyle influences our biochemistry, psychology and behavior - which kind of makes me a "Psycho-Nutritionist"?!?!

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