Improving Skin Through Food: The Dietary Essentials

We all know that living a smoke-free, sunscreen-filled life is the key to gorgeous, glowing skin, but there are also plenty of foods you can eat (and avoid) to naturally enhance your complexion.  With a few simple dietary tweaks, you can improve dull, dry skin, decrease oil and acne production, and reduce the signs of aging and thinning skin.  The saying “you are what you eat” couldn’t be truer when it comes to appearance…  Check out the list below for easy ways to give your skin that little extra summer boost with nothing more than a trip to the grocery store.

Eat Fat: Yes, I said eat fat, good fat that is…. Healthy fats and oils provide anti-inflammatory protection and youth-preserving antioxidants.  Nuts, extra-virgin olive oil, and avocados can make you look lovely, while fatty fish provides hefty helpings of anti-aging, anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids.  Omega 3’s help maintain the body’s essential oils, the healthy, non-pore-clogging kind that keep skin cells from drying out, flaking and congestion.  Fish including salmon, mackerel and albacore tuna are among your best bets for staying beautiful.  Flax and flaxseed oil also provide alpha-linoleic acid (ALA), a plant-based omega-3 fat that’s a key component to keeping skin lubricated, moist, and supple.  So don’t forget to sprinkle that flaxmeal into your next smoothie.

Load Up On Protein: Did you know that research has shown women with more wrinkles are more likely to have lower intakes of protein?  And still more research shows that the skin of older women with lower protein intakes are more susceptible to cracking, tearing and breaking.  This isn’t surprising as protein is necessary for cell repair, the key to keeping aging skin in check.  What you can do: eat generous portions of the right kinds of lean protein to ensure young looking supple skin.  Fish, eggs, skinless chicken and turkey breast, edamame, beans and lean beef will do the trick.

Reduce Your Sugar Intake: There is no question that sugar and high-glycemic carbohydrates increase inflammation throughout the body, inside AND out.  Cookies, cakes, breads, potatoes, rice and pasta can cause blood sugar to spike and lead to dangerous chemical changes in your body. This can stimulate the creation of age-accelerating free radicals and break down youth-preserving collagen.  Stay young and healthy by moderating your intake of the abovementioned sugar-laden carbs and load up on low-glycemic carbohydrates such as fresh fruits and vegetables.

Get Your Vitamins: Vitamin A – Vitamin A helps increase collagen (a protein that gives skin plumpness and elasticity) production and also dries up sebum, the oily substance your skin glands produce that mixes with dead skin cells to create clogs and acne.  Up your vitamin A intake and skin will look fuller, clearer and fresher.  And because it’s an antioxidant, vitamin A can also help repair free radical damage to skin cells that leads to wrinkling and sagging. Sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, broccoli, asparagus and bright red, yellow and orange produce such as carrots, cantaloupe, red bell peppers and red chile peppers will do the trick. Niacin – This B vitamin appears to help strengthen the skin’s barrier, by both hydrating it and acting as an anti-inflammatant.  It can also help to reduce uncomfortable redness and irritation.  Ensure plenty of dietary niacin by eating lean chicken, beef and pork, canned light tuna, whole-wheat flour, and cornmeal. Vitamin C – A powerful antioxidant, vitamin C is a key player in the production of collagen (which keeps skin firm) and helps destroy free radicals before they can do any of the premature wrinkle damage they’re known for.  Red bell peppers and carrots have remarkably high quantities of vitamin C; other notable sources include broccoli, strawberries, pineapple, kiwi, cantaloupe, cauliflower and of course, oranges. Vitamin E – Another powerful antioxidant, vitamin E is known to help skin produce natural oils that aid with aging-related dryness and dullness.  Nuts and seeds, wheat germ, sunflower and safflower oil, mangos, broccoli, tomatoes and spinach are plentiful sources.    

Drink Water: Let me say that again, drink water.  Eight to 10 glasses of water everyday will not only help your organs and cells function efficiently, it will rejuvenate flaky, flat-looking skin.  And a hydrated body is a healthy looking, happy body.

DK

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