There is truth to the adage that “you are what you eat,” and skin health is no exception. Although we often forget, our skin is the most visible body organ. Over time, the skin’s delicate tissues become damaged by environmental factors, such as stress, pollution and sun damage, and signs of aging become visible. Fortunately, the fountain of youth is not out of reach. Here is a rundown of the foods you should be eating to maintain your skin’s healthy and youthful appearance.
Leafy Green Vegetables
Leafy green vegetables, such as spinach, kale, and collard greens, are rich in vitamin K and lutein. Vitamin K is a known anti-inflammatory nutrient that helps with blood clotting and reduces the presence of dark circles. Vitamin K also promotes the healthy healing of the skin, especially after cosmetic procedures. Lutein, on the other hand, is an antioxidant that keeps your skin hydrated and elastic by shielding it from wrinkle and cancer-causing UV rays. Choosing leafy greens that are crisp in texture and vibrant in color ensures that your vegetables contain the highest possible amounts of these skin-loving nutrients.
Orange and Red Fruits and Vegetables
Bell peppers, apricots, and carrots are more than just visually appealing. Orange and red-hued fruits and vegetables naturally contain high levels of beta carotene – after all, the term gets its name from the Latin word for “carrot.” When consumed, the body converts beta carotene into vitamin A. While excess consumption of vitamin A is toxic to the human body and can even cause skin discoloration, proper levels of this essential vitamin help improve the skin’s complexion and control oil production in skin cells. Vitamin A also stimulates healthy collagen growth, which diminishes signs of aging like wrinkles and fine lines. Additionally, the antioxidant properties of beta carotene improve the body’s immune response by protecting it from free radicals.
Your daily nightcap just gained some more muscle. The numerous antioxidants found in green tea ward off free radicals and protect skin from sun damage. One particular antioxidant, EGCG, has anti-inflammatory properties that protect and repair skin cells and restore skin’s youthful glow and texture. Finally, vitamin E found in green tea keeps the skin properly hydrated. Green tea is becoming an increasingly popular ingredient in skincare and beauty products, so finding a way to incorporate it into your daily regimen has become even easier.
Luscious, creamy avocados are not only delicious to eat and naturally hydrate the skin, they are also rich in vitamin C, vitamin E, and magnesium. The antioxidant qualities in vitamin C stimulate collagen and elastin production, which help keep your skin texture firm, evenly-toned, and radiant. Vitamin E protects delicate skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays, and as a result slows down the aging of the skin and reduces the appearance of wrinkles. Magnesium is a popular anti-stress nutrient that improves the quality of sleep and in turn yields well-rested and healthy-looking skin. Finally, the omega 3 fatty acids found in avocados have been shown to promote skin-loving gut bacteria, help fight pimples associated with acne, and add another layer of sun protection for the skin.
Fatty fish contains two different omega 3 fatty acids – docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) – that prevent skin damage from UV rays, calm signs of aging and inflammation and regulate the skin’s oil production abilities. Studies have even shown that fish oil may help with weight loss and reduce the risk of cancers unrelated to melanoma. Fish oil supplements are an easy yet powerful way to include this nutrient outside of a person’s diet. Those who cannot consume fish due to health or dietary reasons can find these healthy fats in other foods, such as flax seeds, almonds, and walnuts.
Fruits belonging to the citrus family have long been known for their high concentrations of vitamin C. This essential vitamin promotes collagen production, which increases skin elasticity, improves skin texture, and reduces the appearance of wrinkles. Vitamin C is so crucial to skin health that a deficiency of the vitamin causes the skin to appear thin and weak. It is no wonder why so many skin treatments today include vitamin C.
Berries are a great source of antioxidants called polyphenols, which tighten, brighten, and smooth out wrinkles. The three main types of polyphenols found in berries are flavonoids, lignans, and phenolic acids. These special antioxidant compounds, which naturally help protect the fruits against environmental stressors, do the same for the skin by protecting it from pollutants. From conventional berries like strawberries and blueberries to more exotic berries such as acai and goji berries, there is enough diversity in the berry world to keep the palate happy. Although the tart sweetness of berries makes them tasty enough to consume, many skincare lines have also begun to include different berries in their product offerings.
Beets are a popular root vegetable recognized for their distinct reddish-purple color. This colorful vegetable is packed with skin-friendly carotenoids, folate, and vitamin C, and other nutrients. This symbiosis of nutrients has been shown to soften the skin, increase collagen production, and reduce pigmentation issues or in other words slow down the signs of aging. Recent studies have even shown beets to be an effective treatment for acne. While beets are typically cooked before they are eaten or incorporated raw into salads, experts claim that juicing is the best way to ensure that their nutrients remain as intact as possible. Those who are not fond of the natural flavor of beets can easily mix them alongside other healthy foods to help make the vegetable more palatable.
Healthy skin begins from within. While there are many supplements and topical solutions on the market that contain the essential vitamins and nutrients for skin health, getting these nutrients through a diet filled with healthy foods still remains the preferred method of intake to keep your skin in its best shape. All of these superfoods work in the body over time to promote overall health, and their benefits are most visible when combined with a healthy lifestyle.