We are obsessed with younger-looking skin. In fact, we fork over (excuse the pun!) a whopping $426 billion a year on our skin, hair and nail products. Yet few of us eat for the health of our outer beauty.
Reality check: What you put on your plate is more important than what you put on your skin.
Do want glowing, vibrant, and yes, younger-looking skin? Eat your way to beautiful (and better feeling) skin:
Blackberries, Blueberries, Strawberries and Plums — Packed with antioxidants, these four fruits in particular, according to the Journal of Agriculture & Food Chemistry, protect the skin from free-radicals that damage skin cells. Berries have the added benefit of being a superfood and, in fact, help with weight loss and sugar cravings.
Flax Seeds, Walnuts, Salmon, Sardines, Mackerel — Omega-3 Fatty Acids are one of the keys to healthy skin. Our bodies do not produce these “essential fatty acids” — we only get them from the foods we eat. Essential fatty acids are the building blocks of healthy cell membranes, which hold in water. The stronger the barrier, the better your cell walls will hold moisture — resulting in, yes, hydrated, plumper, and younger-looking skin.
Avocado — I can’t write an article about healthy nutrition without including my all-time favorite superfood! Avocados sport healthy fats, vitamins C and A. Add them to just about anything — they enhance your complexion and fight aging skin.
Spinach, Kale, (as well as all dark leafy veggies), Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Cantaloupe — Yes, the dark leafy veggies and the orange veggies and fruits are loaded with beta carotene, which your body converts to vitamin A. These powerful antioxidants improve skin color, reduce wrinkles and other signs of aging — particularly damage by the sun, pollution and smoking.
Greek Yogurt (unflavored), Eggs, Tuna — Some people’s bodies have a hard time converting beta carotene into vitamin A. Get some of your vitamin A directly from the source with yogurt (as well as other dairy), eggs and tuna.
Bell Pepper, Papaya, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Strawberries, Pineapple, Oranges, Kiwi, Cantaloupe, Cauliflower, Dark Leafy Greens — These are the fruits and vegetables that contain the highest levels of vitamin C. Usually equated with cold relief, vitamin C is essential to the production of collagen, a protein that provides the framework for our skin and gives it elasticity and strength. According to Medical News Today, collagen is necessary for “conserving the youthfulness of skin and attenuating wrinkles.”
Tomatoes — The absolute best source of the anti-aging antioxidant lycopene. These plump little beauties can help save your skin. Lycopene, the phytochemical that makes tomatoes red, helps eliminate skin-aging free radicals caused by ultraviolet rays. Interestingly, your body best absorbs lycopene when tomatoes are cooked.
Sesame seeds — These tiny powerhouses are chock full of good stuff for the skin. They have a high concentration of copper, a trace mineral with anti-inflammatory properties, and a necessary component of collagen production. They also pack in zinc, another essential mineral for producing collagen, and selenium, an antioxidant mineral that helps protect the skin from sun damage and maintain firmness and elasticity.
And last but not least ….
Water, water and more water — About 60% of your body is made up of water so it makes sense that water would play an important role in your body’s function. Think about a houseplant … what happens when you don’t give it enough water? The leaves start to droop, and ultimately without proper hydration they start to discolor and dry up. Same with our skin and as the largest organ in our body it needs water — anywhere between 4-10 cups, depending on your climate, activity level and what works best for you. Personally I aim for half a gallon a day!