Karen Ensle EdD, RDN, FAND, CFCS
Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County
Remember that old saying, "you are what you eat" which is the basis of good skin color and overall health. Our choice of food and beverages affects all major body systems including the heart, brain and skin. Going to the supermarket or a farmer's market offers plenty of healthy foods that can boost your appearance, as well as, offer some protection from the rays of the sun. Remember, your skin health isdependent on how well you nourish it through dietary choices. Our stressful environment makes it superimportant to feed our skin the most healthful foods on a daily basis for a glowing complexion. Try these tips:
- Eat 5–6 cups daily of bright colored veggies such as carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, leafy dark greens. The carotenoids found in these veggies and others have a beneficial impact on reducing skin discoloration that impacts your appearance.
- Carotenoids are found in fruit and veggies and are potent antioxidants which protect our skin from the sun’s UV rays and helps to protect the skin from sunburn.
- Stop eating the typical American diet that is high in processed food including fried foods, sugar and salt. Instead, eat lots of veggies, fruit, whole grains, 1% or fat-free dairy, poultry, fish and drink plenty of water. Make sure you consume plenty of colorful vegetables that contain phytochemicals which will keep your skin glowing and healthy.
- Add 1–2 ounces of almonds to your diet daily. Researchers at the University of California Davis have found skin improves the severity of wrinkles which lessen due to the beneficial fats found in almonds along with other anti-aging antioxidants.
- Follow the Mediterranean Diet that emphasizes fruit, vegetables, whole grains, poultry, fish, at least two times per week, and limits red meat, sweets, and high fat foods to be "once in a blue moon" foods. Add water or a glass of red wine for adults at the dinner meal. Olive oil is a mainstay of the diet along with plenty of tomatoes that are high in lycopene that helps to prevent skin cancer due to this high antioxidant compound.
- Consuming dark red grapes contains flavonoids that help to prevent premature aging of the skin by providing protection against the UV-ray-activated reactive oxygen species (ROS) from forming and causing skin cell death. Red grapes are a great snack and provide natural protection against sunburn according to a recent study in Spain.
- Eating fish weekly has cardiovascular benefits due to Omega-3 fats but now has been shown to prevent photoaging due to astaxanthin, an antioxidant compound found in pink fish such as salmon and arctic char. It accumulates in a person’s skin and it protects against the UV exposure along with water loss from a person’s skin which contributes to wrinkles.
Take these small steps to improve your skin health so it glows and your overall body health improves inside and out.