Health Insights column: Eat your way to brighter, more beautiful skin — even as you age
Already eating a diet rich in fruits, omega-3 fatty acids and healthy fats? Nutrition expert Debra Jaliman weighs in on delicious drinks for better skin.
Green tea contains catechins, one of the most effective compounds for preventing sun damage, like hyperpigmentation. They also help reduce brown spots. Green tea is high in polyphenols, antioxidants that combat free-radical damage and may reverse the effects of aging.
Red wine contains resveratrol, which comes from the skin of grapes. It counters inflammation and may activate genes that slow cellular aging, Jaliman says.
Fellow nutrition expert Brierley Wright claims that tea, red wine and cocoa all contain a type of flavonoid called epicatechin. This compound increases blood flow to the skin, boosting nutrient and oxygen supply — both factors essential for keeping skin healthy.
You are what you eat.
Our skin is our largest and fastest-growing organ, and it responds to the care and attention you give it. While you can’t stop aging, you can slow it down through the foods you eat. In Kimberley Snyder’s book, “Radical Beauty: How to Transform Yourself from the Inside Out,” she explains how antioxidants help to counter free radicals that age your skin.
For example, vitamin C is so powerful that it is often added in skincare lines. It increases collagen production, which in return creates firmer, thicker skin. As an antioxidant vitamin, it also helps guard against the wrinkling effects of sun exposure. Another nutrient, vitamin E, helps your skin retain moisture. It also reverses existing damage to your skin.
It is important to note that with these foods, absorption and digestibility play a big role in getting anti-aging effects and benefits. Therefore, it is key to have foods in their fresh, whole form — not processed and broken down forms such as superfood powders, extracts or juices.
Also, know that there’s no one food that can cure every skin aliment. It’s easy to buy into the hype of new fad foods and overdo it, but with that being said, the following foods offer amazing anti-aging benefits. They should be incorporated into your diet to promote bright and beautiful skin.
Pomegranates and oranges
Pomegranates are packed with vitamin C, which helps guard against sun damage and creates collagen to keep skin full and luminous. This fruit also contains more antioxidants than red wine and green tea.
Nutrition expert Debra Jaliman said the juice in pomegranate seeds contains both ellagic acid and punicalagin. The first fights damage from free radicals, and the second is a super-nutrient that increases your body’s capacity to preserve collagen, which makes skin look smooth and plump.
Similar to pomegranates, oranges are an excellent source of vitamin C and water. These fruits hydrate your skin and cells and keep your skin looking bright and wrinkle-free. In general, a wide variety of colorful, nutrient-dense vegetables and fruits are great for your skin, especially red peppers, tomatoes, grapefruit and watermelon.
Blueberries are packed with antioxidants, phytonutrients, vitamin C, potassium and much more. They give your skin extra protection against the skin-damaging free radicals that result from sun exposure, emotional stress, lack of sleep and pollution — causes of premature aging.
Free radicals are particles that can harm skin-cell structure and reduce collagen and firmness, making skin more wrinkle prone. To combat that, these delicious berries contain more antioxidants than almost any other fruit. They also contain anti-inflammatory compounds that help with a host of problems, such as puffy skin and dark eye circles, chronic pain and digestion issues.
Omega-3 fatty acids
There is tremendous research as to why cold-water fish, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, are good for your mind and body. But these foods also do wonders for dry skin in a Colorado climate. Omega-3s contain alpha-linolenic acid, which improves circulation and decreases dryness, leaving skin reinvigorated. Healthy fats moisturize your skin from the inside out, as omega-3s become part of the skin cell walls and help it retain moisture.
Salmon, herring and mackerel are great sources of omega-3s. Other excellent sources include chia seeds, flax seeds, olive oil and walnuts.
Similar to nuts and fish, avocados have a lot of beneficial fats for your skin. Although avocados have a high fat content compared to other fruits, they come with a long list of fat-busting nutrients such as fiber, vitamin B5, B6, folate, potassium and vitamins C and E.
Moisturizing vitamin E in this creamy fruit eases dry skin, protects against sun damage and is anti-inflammatory. No wonder spas offer avocado facials. The healthy, monounsaturated fat in avocados also helps your skin stay hydrated, and this fat can help you absorb some vitamins and nutrients that your skin needs, according to dietitian Elisa Zied, author of “Younger Next Week.” Avocados are high in antioxidant glutathione, which is great at detoxifying your system, and in return helping to fight acne and wrinkles.
It is common knowledge that spinach is a nutritional superfood. This vital veggie is incredible for firming skin and is loaded with beta-carotene and lutein, two nutrients that have been shown to improve skin elasticity, according to nutrition expert Debra Jaliman. It contains special phytonutrients and antioxidants, including vitamins A, C, K and B2, to help repair and rejuvenate skin cells, improve skin tone and remove blemishes, and create a radiant, younger-looking complexion. The iron in spinach, which helps transport oxygen throughout your body, also boosts circulation with a rosy glow to keep your skin from looking tired and pale. Let your inner Popeye come out and load up on this leafy green.
Wrinkle-fighting foods protect your skin in a variety of ways: some hydrate, some plump out wrinkles, some guard against sun damage and others protect against free radicals. Eat a variety of these foods to benefit from naturally younger-looking skin.
Julie Wilson is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer and fitness nutritionist based in Dillon. She loves to be active in the mountains and help others with their health and fitness goals.