Note: One X score is translated in % from 0 to 100% reflecting the skin concentration of carotenoids (estimated in terms of nmol of carotenoids per gram of skin)
In this blog post series, I will bring you the main takeaways from my 40 days tracking experiment using One X biosensor to test my skin carotenoids level nearly every 3 hours.
In this first post, we’ll focus specifically on Nutrition
Since One X measures skin carotenoids concentration in tissue (skin), the level reflects a mid-term storage over several weeks. In that context, my first week average One X score was 75.6% which is a fairly high level that nearly always reflects a healthy diet rich in fruits and veggies and low in junk / pro-inflammatory foods.
I can be referred as a “healthy freak”, paleo diet adopter whose diet consists mostly of cooked vegetables with high quality fats (MCT, olive oil, ghee), a few fruits – mostly, tomatoes, avocados, berries – high quality proteins including small fishes (anchovies, sardines), salmon, occasional red meat (lamb), chicken and soft-cooked eggs.
So, to start with, here is a quick infographics summarizing these 40 days experiments (July 21st – September 1st) in terms of food intake. (Macro and micronutrient intake were obtained through the USDA comprehensive food database)
I let you appreciate:
As you can see from this infographics, 80% of my diet comes from 20 different ingredients. For most of the nutrients and dietary antioxidants, my level is way above minimal DRI guidelines (except for Zinc which is probably the biggest sub-clinical nutrient deficiency running today in the world). A consistently high skin carotenoid level (One X score) matches higher consumption of fruits and vegetables, higher level of carotenoids from food but also other antioxidant nutrients that are known to participate in carotenoids protection / regeneration such as: vitamin A, E, C, and some flavonoids.
One X score correlation with my changes in dietary intakes
Now it’s time to look at the different correlations between my One X score and macro/micronutrient intake patterns.
As such we used 21 different data points (each 2 days One X score and dietary nutrients were averaged to account for the nutrient absorption delay in the human tissue)
I let you appreciate the results in this infographics.
As described, the highest correlation of 80.18% was obtained for One X score vs. a specific formula including two critical carotenoids: Beta carotene, Lycopene but also Vitamin E. Indeed these three dietary antioxidants are known to interact in many redox processes together.
The takeaways from this nutritional experiment are very interesting:
We know that skin carotenoids can be affected by many bad or good lifestyle habits but Nutrition is the key component that regulates this level. This is why the US National Academy of Science has declared Carotenoids as the “best biomarker of Fruits and Vegetables intake”. In this experiment skin carotenoids level measured by One X biosensor correlates at 73.41% with the 5 major dietary carotenoids (b-carotene, lycopene, lutein, a-carotene, b-cryptoxanthin).
– The high correlation between skin carotenoids and Vitamin E is rather logic since Vit. E (tocopherol) is an essential lipophilic antioxidant that has the biggest interaction with beta-carotene. As such, skin carotenoids could also potentially reflect the Vit. E status of an individual.
– Another key takeaway is the significant correlation with polyunsaturated fatty acids intake. Today, in a society that still tends to fear fat over carbs, it is a critical element to stress. Indeed, a big chunk of essential dietary vitamins need a sufficient amount of fats to be absorbed by the body (From intestinal fatty micelles) (cf. The “fat soluble vitamins”: A,D,E,K). A nearly 70% correlation between skin carotenoids (also fat soluble nutrients) with dietary intake of Polyunsaturated fats (mostly from olive oil and nuts) show how critical is fat intake in proper nutrient bioavailability. (Interestingly the correlation with Monounsaturated was slightly lower: 54.36% and way smaller with Saturated fats: 36.10%). On the same line, Vit. A (also fat-soluble) for which b-carotene is a precursor also shows a nearly 70% correlation with skin carotenoids status.
– The other nutrients showing a decent correlation with skin carotenoids are: Flavonones (57%) that show the highest correlation from the Flavonoids family, Iron (55%) (Carotenoids are actually known to improve iron bioavailability but the reverse association is still unknown), Vitamin C (51.5%) (Ascorbic acid is known to interact synergistically with Vit.E and b-carotene), ORAC value (50%) (A value established by the USDA to assess the “antioxidant” potential of a particular food)
On the next figure, you can see how a mix of dietary intake of B-carotene, Lycopene and Vitamin E actually correlates with the One X score (skin carotenoids). A correlation > 80% is highly significant. We can also notice the “buffer” role of the skin where antioxidant carotenoids accumulation / depletion tend te be less volatile than from dietary intake (This would also be reflected in volatile carotenoids blood levels)
Short term boosting events
Tracking my score nearly every 2/3h allowed me to detect some interesting patterns concerning the impact of food (which is admittedly the biggest impact on skin carotenoids), even though other lifestyle factors play a confounding role:
1) Anthocyanidins (flavonoids) transient boost
Two foods have consistently been upping my One X score with a 10-15% peak / increase observed in a 30-60 mins laps after consumption: Berries (Blueberries / Blackberries / Raspberries) and 100% Dark chocolate.
These two foods share the same underlying high concentration of a type of flavonoids called anthocyanidins.
There are probably two joint explanations to this phenomenon:
– First, some flavonoids such as quercitin have been shown to directly protect beta-carotene from degradation, others such as anthocyanidin indirectly through upregulation of endogenous antioxidant enzymes (cf. nrf2 transcription factor)
– Another has to see with direct anthocyanidin concentration in skin. At the same wavelengths that skin carotenoids are measured, anthocyanidins can actually be detected, but in very small amount. This is probably why very high level of this flavonoid provided by 100% dark chocolate and 200g of blueberries (on average) can be mildly detected (Learn more)
2) Postprandial oxidative Stress
Another consistent anecdotal observation was a consistent mild drop in my skin carotenoids level after meal intake (usually lunch which is the biggest meal), followed by a rise, usually higher than the baseline measured 1h before that meal intake.
This phenomenon is mosly explained by the digestion process that triggers what is called “post-prandial oxidative stress” (1). A 30-60 mins lapse to metabolize the key antioxidants and carotenoids eaten is required to offset this transient decrease.
The kinetics look like this (A few examples)
I’m stopping here for the Nutritional considerations of the 40 days One X experiment. On Part 2, I will comment and show the impact of my lifestyle habits (such as Sleep, Exercise, Sun exposure, Alcohol consumption, Air flight, Stress) on my skin carotenoids change.