Practical Health Tips: Eat your way to naturally glowing skin

Eat your way to naturally glowing skin

Skin-firming-foods
IMAGE: FRANCIS DEAN/CORBIS, MASCARUCCI/CORBIS, SCOTT PHILLIPS/TAUNTON PRESS/CORBIS
The key to naturally glowing skin isn’t waiting in the aisles at Sephora, it’s waiting in the aisles of your local supermarket. In addition to a thorough cleansing routine, moisturizer and some good old SPF, a balanced diet is all you need for #nofilter skin.

Certain foods and liquids are more likely than others to promote healthy, glowing skin, so we turned to beauty nutritionist Paula Simpson for a bit of guidance.

Hydration

strawberries
Raw strawberries are high in water content.

Skin is the largest organ of the human body — it’s important to keep it properly hydrated. And while moisturizers certainly do their part in plumping skin, hydrating from within is just as important.

“If you are dehydrated, your skin will show it,” Simpson says. So, in addition to drinking water consistently throughout the day, Simpson recommends a diet rich in raw, in-season produce with high water content.

Her picks:

  • Dark leafy greens
  • Cucumbers
  • Strawberries
  • Watermelon
  • Pineapple
  • Fats

    salmon
    Salmon is a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids.

    Fatty acids help skin cells maintain moisture and protect skin from environmental factors, Simpson says. Diets should be rich in Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acid, two essential fats that the human body cannot produce on its own.

    “Typically the North American diet is over abundant in Omega-6 fatty acids,” says Simpson.

    By focusing on balanced foods, which contain healthy oils, you can bring back skin’s natural glow.

    Her picks:

  • Fatty fish (such as salmon)
  • A tablespoon of oil (olive, hempseed, grapeseed and flaxseed oils are good options)
  • Handfuls of flax seeds, chia seeds or walnuts added to cereals, oatmeals or smoothies
  • Avocados
  • Ceramide, a lipid that’s synthesized by skin cells, is also essential for locking in moisture and promoting a youthful, dewy complexion.

    “The outer layer of skin (epidermis) contains ceramides that attract and hold onto water molecules to retain skin moisture,” says Simpson. “Plant-based ceramides can be found in the fibrous content in grains such brown rice and wheat germ.”

    Antioxidants

    paprika
    Paprika is rich in antioxidants.

    Simpson recommends foods high in antioxidants that may protect from environmental stressors like ultraviolet rays and pollutants, which she says make skin “more vulnerable to unstable free radical molecules (or reactive oxygen species; ‘ROS’) from that break down proteins (collagen,) disrupt cellular renewal, damage DNA, and stimulate inflammatory reactions.”

    Foods and spices rich in antioxidants include those that contain carotenoids, theyellow and red pigments naturally synthesized by plants, and which Simpson explains are only obtainable through diet or supplements.

    “Paprika is rich in antioxidants, including vitamin C and four carotenoids: beta-cryptoxanthin, beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin,” she says. These, she adds, may function as antioxidants “that help prevent cellular damage that can lead to chronic health problems.”

    Other foods rich in antioxidants include citrus fruits that contain vitamin C, which may help amino acids convert into collagen, and may help neutralize free radicals. It’s these free radicals that Simpson says break down skin’s collagen and elastin.

    Her picks:

  • Oranges
  • Limes
  • Lemons
  • Grapefruits
  • Blackberries
  • Raspberries
  • Skin-firming foods

    eggs
    Eggs help boost collagen, Simpson says.

    IMAGE: PETE MCARTHUR/CORBIS

    Firm skin relies heavily on collagen, the main structural protein found in our connective tissues.

    “As we age, the natural weakening in cellular activity and increase in environmental stressors break down this structural framework, resulting in loose, thin and frail skin,” Simpson says.

    To combat weakening, foods rich in mineral copper may help facilitate collagen production, as do foods high in vitamin C.

    Her diet picks:

  • Poultry
  • Eggs (specifically egg whites)
  • Cod
  • Crab
  • Lobster
  • Oysters
  • Bell peppers
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Almonds
  • Raisins
  • Aduki beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Soybeans
  • Chickpeas
  • Seaweed
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