The link between nutrition and skin health has been a subject of numerous studies throughout the years. Various vitamins, minerals, nutrients and compounds have shown to possess powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that preserve the skin’s youthful complexion. Extracts of these compounds have been used for topical skin care products and nutritional supplements.
Not only do these nutrients help to delay the development of skin aging signs such as fine lines, wrinkles, dryness, pigmentation, paleness and thinness. They also reverse the effects of exposure to harmful environmental toxins and to the ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun. Thus, making appropriate dietary changes to include foods that are rich sources of these vitamins or minerals can take years off your skin and restore your youthful glow. Here are some nutritional tips to help you look younger.
1. Eat More Dark-colored Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables that have a darker color generally contain more flavonoids, a class of antioxidants that help to combat the damaging effects of free radicals and UV light. Some of the best sources of flavonoids include blueberries, black grapes, raspberries and red peppers. These foods support the production of collagen, which is essential in keeping the skin smooth and supple.
Green leafy vegetables are also rich sources of antioxidants. Spinach contains additional nutrients, such as CoQ10, vitamin E and vitamin C, that guard against wrinkle formation. Furthermore, it has high amounts of folate that assist in the repair and maintenance of DNAdaily, which boosts the skin’s cell renewal process.
Cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprouts also have antioxidant properties as well as folate. This helps to protect against sun damage.
So, the next time you prepare a meal, make sure that salads comprised of leafy greens and dark fruits occupy a larger portion of your plate.
2. Juice Your Veggies
The quickest way you can absorb the nutrients from vegetables is by juicing them. Juicing breaks down cell walls. Drinking juiced vegetables allows your body to assimilate the contents faster and benefit from the various antioxidants, phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals.
The best greens to juice are kale, spinach and celery. These contain large amounts of phytonutrients that detoxify the liver and promotes clearer and smoother skin. Carrots and beets are also excellent choices. Carrots are rich in antioxidants and beta-carotene, while beets have properties that support rejuvenation of the cells.
So, take that juicer or blender out of the kitchen cabinet, add chopped vegetables and enjoy a glass of fresh, raw vegetable juice every day. In time, you will notice improvements in your skin’s tone and texture.
3. Add Some Yellow and Orange Produce
Integrate yellow and orange fruits and vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, squash, papayas, peaches, mangoes and cantaloupes into your meals. These are natural sources of beta-carotene, a compound known for its antioxidant properties. Beta-carotene defends the skin against damage caused by chronic exposure to the sun and helps to even out skin tone. Because of these benefits, it is used as an ingredient in several cosmetics and skin care products, such as facial cleansers, moisturizers, sunblock and anti-aging creams.
In addition, beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is necessary to reduce inflammation and minimize blemishes.
4. Snack on Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate also contains a lot of antioxidants. Eating a few ounces of dark chocolate each day can improve your skin’s texture and provide protection against UV rays. The cocoa in dark chocolate also encourages hydration, which can make the skin look firm and supple.
While they can be a bit sweet, dark chocolates are low in saturated fat and sugar so it’s OK to have a few squares for desserts or snacks. However, it is essential to select dairy-free dark chocolate because milk chocolate is packed with unhealthy sugars and additives.
5. Drink a Glass of Red Wine
Organic red wine is loaded with antioxidants such as flavonoids and resveratrol, which are highly beneficial for overall skin health. These compounds protect the collagen and elastin fibers that keep the skin firm and wrinkle-free. They also offset the effects of free radicals to prevent premature skin aging.
Red wine has more resveratrol than grape juice. Drinking one glass a day can effectively rejuvenate of the cells, lighten skin blemishes, promote glowing skin and forestall the formation of wrinkles.
6. Keep Hydrated
Dehydrated skin encourages premature aging. When the skin lacks moisture, it ages faster and promotes the development of fine lines and wrinkles. If you want to have glowing and radiant skin, one of the things you need to do is to keep your skin cells hydrated.
Water moisturizes soft tissues and supports detoxification. Drinking at least 2 liters of water a day helps to keep the skin clear and blemish-free.
You can also get the same benefits from consuming foods that are high in water content. These include cucumbers, watermelons, cantaloupes and grapes. These water-rich foods boost hydration levels and reduce the puffiness around the eyes.
7. Reduce Sugar Intake
Cutting back on sweets can do wonders for your skin. Sugar has shown to be a major culprit behind premature skin aging. While you can’t eliminate sugar from your diet because even healthy carbohydrates like whole grains, fruits and vegetables are eventually metabolized as glucose, you should refrain from unhealthy carbohydrates and added sugars.
Large consumptions of carbohydrates and starchy, sugar-packed foods such as desserts and junk food shoot up the blood sugar. When the blood sugar levels become elevated, a chemical process called glycation is triggered. The excess sugars in the bloodstream bind themselves to certain proteins and form harmful molecules called advanced glycation end products (AGEs). When AGEs accumulate, they break down the protein fibers called collagen and elastin, which are essential in preserving the skin’s firmness and suppleness. When these proteins collapse, the skin becomes wrinkled and saggy. AGEs also makes the skin vulnerable to inflammation, sun damage and dryness.
While glycation occurs naturally as part of the chronological aging process that begins at the age of 35, maintaining a diet high in sugar and carbohydrates can speed up the process.
8. Shift to Complex Carbohydrates
Most carbohydrates such as refined bread, pasta, white rice and sweet desserts have a high glycemic index that causes the body to absorb the sugars faster. This leads to abrupt elevations in blood sugar levels and insulin. As a result, the glycation process is accelerated, and chronic inflammation develops. Inflammation can cause breakouts and aggravate skin conditions such as acne.
The next time you go grocery shopping, make sure to select your carbohydrate sources wisely. Opt for complex carbohydrates that are high in fiber and have low glycemic index values. These include oats, whole grains and wheat bread. Maintaining whole grains and fiber-rich food as part of your diet can delay the skin aging process.
9. Choose Lean Proteins
Protein contains amino acids, which are crucial to the production of collagen, which provides the structure of your skin’s tissues. Incorporating good sources of protein in your diet boosts collagen levels to help your skin stay firm. It also supports cell regeneration for younger-looking skin.
The best sources of protein include lean meats and fish because they have low saturated fat which is good for your health. Choose skinless chicken, extra-lean pork, and fish like salmon, sardines, anchovies and mackerel.
In addition to protein, certain kinds of fish like those mentioned are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which also aid in the protection against sun damage and skin inflammation.
Other foods that contain healthy proteins include eggs, liver, lentils, peas, nuts, cheese and soy milk. The protein in egg yolks and whole milk products promotes the repair of skin damage and lessens dryness.
10. Take Some Dietary Supplements
Nutritional deficiencies can hasten the aging process. Being unable to absorb the right vitamins and minerals on a daily basis can make your skin look older than you do. You can opt to take some dietary supplements to make up for busy days when you don’t get to prepare healthy meals.
Among the supplements that have anti-aging properties are those that are rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K and B-complex vitamins.
A new class of pills called nutraceuticals have recently gained popularity as “beauty supplements.” Nutraceuticals contain parts of food and are designed to deliver selected nutrients to fortify the immune system. Some of these are intended to enhance skin health and delay skin aging. They work by providing the necessary compounds that support collagen synthesis, cell renewal and skin hydration, among others.
Some clinical studies have found dietary supplements and nutraceuticals to be beneficial to skin health. However, since these products are preformulated and chemically manufactured, you should consult your physician first before starting any supplementation regimen.
Aging is inevitable and the process will develop whether you want it to or not. Science hasn’t yet come up with a miracle drug or procedure to sustain a youthful complexion permanently. However, you can control how you age so that the signs don’t show on your skin much earlier than they should. While genetic predispositions and environmental factors play a substantial role in skin health, you can modify your diet to fight the effects of exposure to harmful elements and to protect your skin from premature aging. So, make the right nutritional choices now and be on the journey toward a younger-looking you.
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