We have all heard the saying “you are what you eat” and it is so true!
Our skin definitely reflects what we eat, if you overload your body with toxins, your body may fight back in the way of acne, dull complexion, wrinkles, even eczema, psoriasis or rosacea. Before you go spending hundreds of dollars on face creams and tonics, maybe check your diet first?
“Everything you eat becomes a part of not only your inner being, but the outer fabric of your body as well. The healthier the foods are that you consume, the better your skin will look,” says Samantha Heller, MS, RD, a clinical nutritionist at NYU Medical Center in New York City.
Top foods for healthy skin:
According to the American Skin Association, “Water is the most important nutrient we consume. The human body is anywhere from 55 to 75 percent water. Without water, we could not survive. It is recommended that people drink 8 glasses of water a day.” When you drink water, the cells absorb that water and look plumper, smoothing out wrinkles. The opposite is true for drinks with caffeine and sugar like coffee, soda and alcohol which dehydrate your skin. Your body needs clean, pure, fresh water everyday. Water helps move nutrients in and push toxins out. Also, when you are properly hydrated, you sweat more efficiently, which keeps your skin clean and clear. Add some lemon for even more detoxing agents. Green tea is a fabulous way you get your water, it contains potent antioxidants called catechins, which help fight damage caused by free radicals.
Salmon, Walnuts, Canola Oil, and Flax Seeds
What do these foods all have in common? Essential Omega 3 fatty acids, which are key for healthy skin. “Essential fatty acids are responsible for healthy cell membranes, which is not only what act as barriers to harmful things but also as the passageway for nutrients to cross in and out and for waste products to get in and out of the cell,” says Ann Yelmokas McDermott, PhD, a nutritionist at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston. Increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids will help keep the skin looking youthful and supple.
Blueberries, strawberries plums and blackberries
In a recent study done by the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, these four fruits weighed in with the highest “total antioxidant capacity” of any food. Do I see a smoothie in your future? These powerhouse fruits really pack a punch in the nutrient department, they are excellent sources of vitamin C, vitamin E, soluble and insoluble fiber, manganese, and riboflavin. The antioxidants found in these fruits neutralize DNA-damaging free radicals, reducing cell damage. When skin cells are protected from damage and disintegration, the skin looks younger for longer.
Green and Red Vegetables
Super high in vitamin A and beta-carotene, both which help repair your skin. For high potency, stock up on carrots, sweet potatoes, beets, spinach and broccoli. Orange-red veggies are full of beta-carotene, which our bodies covert* into vitamin A. Vitamin A acts as an antioxidant which prevents cell damage, and premature aging. With vitamin A you also get acne fighting benefits, it has been put into acne medications for years, (think Retin-A). Green veggies are packed with vitamin A as well which helps your skin produce fresh new healthy cells and get rid of old ones, reducing dryness and keeps you looking youthful.
*(see “low-fat dairy products” if you suffer from diabetes or a thyroid condition)
Choose Acerola cherries (one acerola cherry has 100% daily vitamin C!), red bell pepper, green chili pepper, strawberries, kiwi, broccoli and citrus fruits. Vitamin C aids in the production of collagen, keeping your skin firm and tight. Since collagen breakdown really picks up in your mid-30s, eat citrus early and often to head off aging.
Quick tip: Eat all your fruits and veggies raw to get their full benefit, a lot of nutrients get lost in cooking. Try juicing for the best results!
Low-fat Dairy products
Yogurt, milk & cheese, all high in vitamin A, which is essential to prevent cell damage. Nutrition expert Liz Lipski, PhD, CCN, says it’s doubly important to eat A-rich dairy foods if you have either diabetes or a thyroid condition. “Many people who have these problems can’t convert the beta carotene to vitamin A, which is the form found in many foods that we normally associate with this vitamin, such as carrots”. Low-fat yogurt is one of your best choices because it is high in vitamin A and acidophiles, a “live” bacteria which is good for intestinal health and proper digestion.
Brazil nuts, shellfish, whole grains, orange roughy, and sunflower seeds
What do these strangers come together on? Selenium! Selenium has been shown to help prevent damage from ultraviolet rays and improve the look of wrinkles and other sun-related signs of aging. Selenium is also an antioxidant mineral responsible for tissue elasticity. Brazil nuts pack the largest amount of selenium, only 3-4 nuts a day provide an adequate amount of selenium for most people.
What NOT to do…
Did you know 90% of skin damage is due to the sun? It’s very preventable with the right protection. Use sunscreen (15spf or higher), slather it on even if you’re just going on a quick errand, every minute in the sun counts. Also, stay away from cigarettes. Smoking is second to sun damage in causing wrinkles and dry skin. Right now is the right time to quit! Studies have shown that smokers have significantly more fine wrinkles than nonsmokers due to an enzyme that destroys collagen. Smoking also slows the body’s ability to produce new collagen, making it a double-whammy. Also, limit your consumption of alcohol, caffeine, white sugar and processed foods, which have all been linked with skin issues and early signs of aging.
Sources: WebMD, RealAge, wikipedia & Naturalnews