My list of foods you need to be eating more of to keep your skin looking younger.
The foods in your kitchen are just as important for keeping skin soft, smooth, and glowing as the creams in your beauty cabinet. I'd say its probably 80% food and 20% beauty regime. Both are important but your diet is definitely more important.
Good nutrition is a fundamental building block of healthy skin. The natural ingredients in food can help do everything from speed the pace of exfoliation to protect skin from the UV damage that causes brown spots and wrinkles. The recipe for complexion perfection starts with a well-rounded diet of healthy fats, sufficient protein, and lots of fruits and veggies. But it also includes a bevy of power foods that feed your skin in beautiful ways. As a bonus, these nutritional superstars also do wonders for the rest of your body—build brainpower, lower cholesterol, improve sleep, and more. Are you ready to take the inside-out approach to loving your skin for life?
Time to say hello to your new shopping list:
The Glow: Would you believe that just 6 leaves will provide more than 100% of your daily requirement of vitamin A, which revitalises skin by increasing cell turnover. The mineral potassium in romaine "gives skin a refreshing boost of nutrients and oxygen by improving circulation,
Bonus: That same serving of romaine contains 45% of the daily requirement of vitamin K, which a recent study has shown activates a protein that supports vascular health—making a future with varicose veins less likely.
The Glow: Eating red helps to prevent burning. Volunteers who consumed 5 tablespoons of high-in-lycopene tomato paste daily for 3 months had nearly 25% more protection against sunburn in one study. Even better, skin had more collagen, which keeps skin plump and youth-like. Also higher levels of lycopene have been linked to having fewer fine lines and wrinkles.
Bonus: Research suggests that lycopene may also lower your chances of heart disease: In one study, women with the highest levels of it had a 34% reduced risk. Also in men it helps to prevent prostate cancer
The Glow: 125g of sweet strawberries contains a whopping 130% of the daily recommendation for vitamin C. Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that boosts production of collagen fibres which are essential for keeping your skin smooth and firm. Also, women who consumed less vitamin C were more likely to suffer with dry, wrinkled skin. There has also been some research which is indicating that ellagic acid, an antioxidant abundant in strawberries, helps to protect the skin from sagging.
Bonus: Strawberries may lower your risk of cancer by inhibiting the development of malignant cancer cells. In one study, people eating the most strawberries were 3 times less likely to develop the disease.
The Glow: Quercetin, which is found in abundance in apples, provides protection from the UVB rays (burning) that trigger skin cancer. Golden delicious would be the variety to choose - and make sure you eat the skin. Word of warning - you'll still need sunscreen
Bonus: Eating two or more apples a week for 1 year reduced the risk of dying from heart disease by 15% in one study of 34,000 healthy post-menopausal women. Whatever variety you choose, be sure to eat the peel, the source of nearly all the antioxidants.
The Glow: A study shows that the nutrient called aglycone, which is found in soy, helps improve fine wrinkles and skin firmness in women in their late 30s and early 40s. The volunteers consumed an amount of aglycone comparable to 80g of tempeh a day for 12 weeks.
Bonus: Adding soy to your diet may reduce your risk of developing endometrial and ovarian cancers and diabetes and prevent a recurrence of breast cancer, finds new research.
The Glow: Eating a small handful of almonds every day boosts levels of vitamin E, one of the most important antioxidants for skin health. Almonds are great for those that suffer with dry skin.
Bonus: Fat doesn't make you fat. Although nuts are high in calories, women who ate them at least twice a week were less likely to gain weight than those who rarely did, in a new study of over 50,000 women.
The Glow: These nuts are packed full of alpha-linolenic acid, which is an omega-3 fat that is a key component of the lubricating layer that keeps skin moist and supple. A 15g serving of walnuts provides 100% of the recommended daily intake of ALA.
Bonus: Eating walnuts at dinner may deliver a better nights sleep. Researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center discovered that walnuts contain melatonin, which is the hormone that regulates sleep.
Cocoa (made with dark chocolate)
The Glow: Women in one study positively glowed after drinking 1/2 cup, thanks to a significant increase in circulation that lasted 2 hours. But a daily cocoa habit may rejuvenate your complexion even more. Women who drank 1/2 cup of cocoa high in flavonoids (as is dark chocolate) every day for 12 weeks in another study had significantly softer, smoother, and better hydrated skin.
Bonus: Research has shown that a 250ml mug of cocoa improved blood flow to the brain for 2 hours. As well as helping you to function better on complex tasks, participants showed more brain activity in MRI scans--an indication of enhanced brain function that may reduce the risk of dementia.
The Glow: This healthy fat contains essential fatty acids that help skin resist UV damage, finds a Lancet Oncology study. EFAs are also part of the cell membranes that help hold in moisture. The body can't synthesize EFAs, so consume about 1 tablespoon of olive oil daily to keep skin supple.
Bonus: Recent research suggests that hydroxytyrosol, a component in olive oil, lowers cholesterol and helps prevent obesity and diabetes by revving the energy centers in your cells. Using it at meals also warded off the next round of hunger pains in one study, so you're less likely to snack. Just make sure you eat this oil cold ... when you heat it up to smoke point it will flip from a healthy fat to a trans fat.
Your guide to living whole and well. Emma Olliff is a Registered Nutritional Therapist, wellness expert, food lover, and advocate for healthy living!