Age Spots

Question: What causes age spots, should I be concerned about them, and is there any way to get rid of them?

Answer: Age spots or liver spots refer to those brown areas on our skin, especially on the back of the hands, that seem to occur as we age. While I don’t know of any clear research on these spots it seems to me that these spots represent a phenomenon that is actually common in nature. We all have had the experience of cutting an apple and leaving it on the counter. In a short period of time the pulp of the apple begins to brown. The rate at which the apple browns is related to the way the apple has been grown–organic apples brown less quickly than conventionally grown apples and more quickly than many biodynamically grown apples. Browning of biological tissue is due to oxidation, and this relates to the level of anti-oxidants in those tissues. The same apparently happens in our own tissues. When we are low in anti-oxidants, including vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin C, selenium and many others, the tissues begin to suffer from oxidative damage. Since brown spots on the skin indicate possible oxidative damage occurring in the internal organs, they are a cause for concern. This is where the liver connection probably comes in, as the liver has always been thought in folk-medicine to relate to our overall nutritional status, or in scientific terms our nutrient/anti-oxidative levels. So, if you are suffering from excessive or early onset of many “liver” spots, you may want to increase your consumption of good fats, colored vegetables and other foods with high anti-oxidant levels. This may not get rid of them, but it will help prevent new ones.

This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Winter 2006.

3 Responses to Age Spots

  1. Lynn says:

    I have found that after having gallbladder surgery/removal, my body was not digesting fats properly and can cause this. So if you’ve had your gallbladder removed, take OxBile with your meals to help digest fats!

  2. Terry says:

    I’ve found that age spots are caused by oxidation as Dr. Cowan states. People eating a SAD diet with bad oils are most susceptible to age or liver spots. When they change their diet by removing bad vegetable oils and replacing with healthy saturated fats like coconut oil and animal fat, as well as plenty of fresh vegetables, their age spots GO AWAY. I’ve seen it happen many times. That’s good news! The body doesn’t lie.

  3. Heat-processed and diets containing highly processed foods contain high levels of advanced glycation end products (AGEs). Dietary advanced glycation end products or dAGEs are known to contribute to increased oxidant stress and inflammation, which are linked to the recent epidemics of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

    Dry heat promotes new dAGE formation by 10 to 100-fold above the uncooked state across food categories. Animal-derived foods that are high in fat and protein are generally AGE-rich and prone to new AGE formation during cooking. In contrast, carbohydrate-rich foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and milk (raw) contain relatively few AGEs, even after cooking as long as fruits and whole grains are not cooked under high temperatures. Any form of baked bread or pastry increases dAGE’s. Toasting bread further increases AGE’s. The formation of new dAGEs during cooking may be prevented or significantly reduced by cooking with moist heat, using shorter cooking times, cooking at lower temperatures, and by use of acidic ingredients such as lemon juice or vinegar.

    As an example, pan fried bacon has the highest amount of dAGE’s where broiled salmon has one of the lowest in the meat category.

    In general, the rule of thumb is anything cooked above 275F and under dry conditions will generate AGE’s in excess. Eating baked foods with cooked sugar where the crust turns brown is the first sign of elevated levels of AGE’s. Drinking freshly squeezed lemon juice with each meal will reduce the adverse effects of AGE’s. Caution for those with high iron count in the blood as lemon juice increases iron absorption from food and vegetables including black tea.

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