Debbie J., MS, RD contributed this article –
What better way to beat the winter blues than with a happy glow? When it comes to soft skin and smooth texture, it’s not just about the creams and lotions you put on your skin, but what you put into your body that affects your complexion, too. How you eat makes a big impact on the way your skin looks and feels, because vitamins, minerals and other nutrients found in everyday foods can give sallow, dry or older looking skin a healthy—and perhaps youthful—boost.
It starts with plenty of fruits and vegetables, healthy fats and sufficient protein as part of your well-rounded diet. In particular, there are some power–foods and nutrients that nourish the skin.
Almonds – These contain Vitamin E (an antioxidant) which protects your skin’s top layer from the sun, keeping it supple. Vitamin E is considered a sun-blocker; it protects you against UV light and other free radical producing environmental factors. Thus, these foods help reduce the harmful effects of the sun on the skin, such as wrinkles, which can make your skin look and feel smoother. Sunflower seeds are a nut-free alternative.
Beans – Particularly red, black, kidney and pinto because they contain antioxidants and the mineral zinc. Zinc is correlated with fewer blemishes as it clears skin by taming oil production. Additionally, zinc also supports cell repair and renewal.
Extra Virgin Olive oil, cold pressed or expeller processed – This useful oil contains essential fatty acids which are part of the cell membrane that holds in moisture, keeping skin lubricated, looking and feeling younger. EFAs are crucial to the production of skin’s natural oil barrier. They also help skin resist UV damage and oxidative stress thus protecting against photo-aging. Canola oil is another option.
Dark Chocolate – YES, chocolate! It contains flavonols (antioxidants) that reduce roughness in skin, improving texture, and protect again sun damage resulting in softer, smoother, and better hydrated skin. Added bonus: cocoa increases circulation for 2 hours causing luminosity.
Flaxseed and Walnuts – These little powerhouses contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fat that is a critical part of the lubricating layer that keeps skin moist and supple, improving skin’s elasticity. Higher intakes of these foods are correlated with reduced photo-aging, as ALA neutralizes skin cell damage caused by free radicals. Omega 3 fatty acids erase spots and smooth out fine lines because they combat irritation and attract water, and plump-up skin cells by holding more moisture.
Green Tea (hot brewed) – This eastern delight contains catechins (antioxidants) that are anti-inflammatory. They reduce redness and protect cell membrane from UV damage. Drinking 2-6 cups a day may neutralize the changes that appear in sun-exposed skin.
Low-fat milk products – Dairy foods contain Vitamin A which is necessary for the maintenance and repair of skin tissue (too little and you’ll experience a dry, flaky complexion), and protein which keeps skin firm.
Soy – This contains aglycone (a soy isoflavone) that may improve fine wrinkles and skin firmness and has minerals and protein that are shown to reduce hyperpigmentation.
Strawberries – These berries contain multiple skin protectors. Ellagic acid (antioxidant) protects elastic fibers keeping skin from sagging.Vitamin C boosts production of collagen fibers that keep skin smooth and firm. Polyphenols (antioxidants) that fight free radicals and regulate skin’s blood flow, giving it rosiness.
Tomatoes – The compound Lycopene obtained from cooked tomatoes fights free radicals produced by UV light, reducing aging of skin such as sagging and fine lines.
Part 2 adds to this list of key foods some accessory ones that can help stave off the hands of time plus relevant tips on avoiding wrinkles and damage.