New research shows that the secret to defying age is in what you eat! This approach to skin care may seem unattractive as the switch to an anti-aging, pro-skin diet does not achieve overnight results. As we get older and become more susceptible to oxidative stress, the importance of nutrition in relation to skin health becomes vital. Oxidative stress is a condition where an excess of free radicals inflames skin and causes visible damage. The right foods contain antioxidants and other age-defying substances that help skin ward off free radical damage and prevent common skin conditions ranging from acne to premature aging.
Most foods we eat fall into two categories namely Pro-inflammatory and Anti-inflammatory. Choosing to eat anti-inflammatory foods can help slow down the aging process. Pro-inflammatory foods which are bad for the skin include Caffeine, Alcohol, Refined Flour, Processed fats, Refined Sugar and Salt. These all accelerate the degradation of the skin’s supportive collagen and elastin. Use of skincare products in addition to a skin-friendly diet and lifestyle will provide the best results. Supplements are also recommended to fill in nutritional gaps.
There are loads of wonder-cosmetics on the market that promise to hold the key to youthful skin with exotic ingredients but in effect it’s like trying to put rocks through a sieve as there is a limit to what the skin can absorb from the outside in. It however can absorb a lot more from the inside out which is the Beauty of food.
FOR AGING SKIN
Food can be used to help the skin look younger and a good diet may improve appearance in as few as 3 days. Skin is unable to perform at its best when diet is poor and as a result ages faster. Low-fat or no-fat diets are a huge mistakeas adequate amounts of essential fatty acids are important to help cells retain moisture and plump up appearance. Foods to eat include fish which is a great source of Omega-3 Essential fatty acids. These also contain antioxidants that mop up free radicals that can cause wrinkles and premature aging. Dark leafy greens also contain antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory properties and also contain Omega-6 Essential Fatty acids. Olive oil is a great choice as it contains Oleic Acid which helps cells absorb essential fatty acids more efficiently. Other beauty boosting antioxidant rich foods include fruits rich in colour such as mangoes, watermelon and papaya. Rich coloured fruits such as raspberries and blueberries are also antioxidant rich. Look for supplements rich in antioxidants and kelp (a type of seaweed containing lots of protective minerals).
Acne causes a chronic low-grade inflammation of the skin. Inflammation is the body’s natural response to damage and injury. To treat acne effectively, you have to target the problems from all directions. The acne-diet relationship has been strongly established and must be taken seriously for best results regardless of whether your acne is hormonal, stress induced, due to bacterial proliferation or dead skin build-up. Foods rich in Vitamins A, E, B2, B3 and Zinc such as green leafy vegetables, seeds, pulses, whole grains, nuts, eggs and oily fish are key. These contain essential nutrients such as fatty acids, essential fatty acids, protein, vitamins and minerals. They also promote healthy skin and good hormone balance. Drinking plenty of water and avoiding toxic foods such as red meat, sugar, caffeine and alcohol are very important. Supplements should also be added.
FOR DULL, DRY AND FLAKY SKIN
A good balance of oil and moisture is crucial for healthy skin. Piling on layers of moisturizer will not give your skin the healthy glow you most likely seek. It will help somewhat but if you are not moisturized from the inside, so to speak, your skin will remain dry. Skin that lacks oil and moisture is often due to a deficient intake of Water and the Essential fatty acids (Omega 3, 6, and 9). A deficiency of Vitamins A and B which is worsened by drinking too much coffee, tea and alcohol also results in dry flaky skin. I recommend you drink at least 3 litres of water a day, eat Vitamin B rich whole grains such as brown rice, whole grain bread and whole meal pasta. It is important to stay away from refined processed foods. Also eat orange and red coloured carotene containing fruits and vegetables such as Mangoes, Papaya and Carrots. Avoid saturated fats found in fried, processed foods, excess red meat and dairy products. Oily fish should be eaten at least 3 times a week for good levels of essential fatty acids. If you can’t eat fish that often, take an essential fatty acid supplement.
FOR SENSITIVE SKIN
Sensitive skin includes that which becomes red, tender and tight when exposed to extremes of temperature and direct sunlight. Skin is also sensitive in conditions like Eczema, Psoriasis and Rosacea. The diet can greatly improve all of these conditions. Omega-3 fatty acids help soothe such skin and fights inflammation. The Diet should be as natural as possible and preserved, refined and processed foods should be avoided. Caffeine, Sugar and Alcohol should also be limited or better still, eliminated completely. These measures will help improve liver function which when adversely affected may give rise to these skin conditions. Lots of Beta-carotene containing foods should be eaten such as brightly coloured fruits and vegetables. Dark leafy greens are also recommended as they contain zinc, selenium and fibre which help reduce toxic overload. An MSM containing supplement is beneficial as this easily absorbable form of sulphur strengthens the skin’s supportive structures.