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To date, the oldest person who ever lived is Madame Jeanne Calment, a French woman who died in 1997 at the age of 122. You’d be forgiven for thinking Madame Calment was a pillar of health to have lived for so long. Au contraire, Madame Calment only gave up smoking at the grand age of 117 and habitually drank two glasses of port every day until her last decade! But before you reach for that night cap, you should know that most of Madame Calment’s relatives also lived to ripe old ages, leading scientists to believe the reasons for her long and healthy life were her strong genes and positive mental attitude.

According to Patrick, Madame Calment is an exception. As for the rest of us mere mortals, Patrick says there is still hope and explains that there are ways to minimise the sagging, wrinkling and loss of plumpness of your skin that we all assume is an inevitable part of ageing. Armed with the right knowledge, it is possible to increase your chances of living a long and healthy life and influencing the way your skin ages simply by watching what you eat.

Here’s how:

Vitamin A: Vital to helping your skin age healthily, Vitamin A helps stops the build-up of old cells, which can happen as the process of cell renewal slows down. This wonder vitamin also absorbs harmful UVA rays from the sun, preventing it from damaging the skin, but doesn’t inhibit Vitamin D production. Include plenty of red- and orange-coloured foods for the best supply.

Vitamin C: Collagen – a buzz word in beauty – is the structural component of your skin, giving it elasticity and assisting in the renewal and healing processes. Collagen is made from Vitamin C, so, to boost your collagen reserves, eat foods rich in Vitamin C like broccoli, kiwi fruit and oranges.

Essential fats: The membranes of the skin are made from essential fats. The job of essential fats is to help the membranes control what goes in and out of the cells. The better skin cells are at retaining water, the plumper and younger-looking your skin will be. For soft skin, include plenty of foods in your diet that are rich in essential Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats such as oily fish, nuts and seeds.

Zinc: Needed to produce new skin cells, Zinc is a mineral essential to healthy skin. Lack of Zinc leads to stretch marks and poor healing and is associated with skin problems like acne and eczema – all aggravators of ageing. Good food sources of Zinc include lamb, pecan and Brazil nuts, oats, rye and egg yolks. The very best source of Zinc is oysters!

H20 – nature’s moisturiser: Water is a crucial component of your skin, providing a basis for the healthy glow of youthful skin. Without an adequate supply of water, skin cells become dehydrated and cannot rebuild your body. Aim to drink the equivalent of eight glasses of water a day to keep skin cells happy and hydrated.

Don’t worry, be happy: Stress triggers a cascade of hormones that, over time, can accelerate ageing. Madame Calment demonstrated that there is some truth to the saying ‘laughter is the best medicine’. Famous for her wit, it is thought that Madame Calment’s sense of humour also contributed to her longevity. At her 120th birthday, when asked what kind of future she expected, she quipped: “A very short one.”