They say that skin is the most visible indicator of aging. As you age, your skin can change in several different ways. It can become thinner, begin to sag, and lose its elasticity and smoothness. You may notice this as bags underneath your eyes, crow’s feet, wrinkles, less definition around your cheekbones, sagging skin on your neck, and age spots on your face and hands.
These unattractive changes are important concerns for many people. While skin aging is partially genetically determined, there are a number of controllable external factors that can accelerate skin aging:
- Sun/UV ray exposure
- Air pollution
- Temperature and humidity
- Alcohol abuse
- Certain medications
- Poor nutrition
- Repetitive muscle movements (e.g., squinting, frowning)
- Stress (both physical and psychological)
- Sleeping position
- And more
In his book, The Wrinkle Cure, Nicholas Perricone, a prominent dermatologist, begins by saying, “Wrinkled, sagging skin is not the inevitable result of getting older. It’s a disease, and you can fight it.”
The great news is that nutrition can have a potent impact on skin health. For instance, there are several nutrients, micronutrients, antioxidants, polyphenols, and a variety of plant extracts that possess potent antioxidant properties and can effectively prolong youthful skin appearance. Here are some of our favorite foods for healthy, glowing skin.
Citrus fruits are among the richest natural sources of Vitamin C, which is much more than a potent antioxidant. Vitamin C protects the cells throughout the body from free radical damage, and it also plays an important role in the formation of collagen, the main structural protein in skin, helping keep it healthy, firm, and tight. Vitamin C has been shown to help repair photoaged skin and provide wrinkle relief. Here are some of our favorite Vitamin C-rich citrus fruits:
- Ugli fruit
Orange-colored fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of ß-carotene, which is a member of the broad group of nutrients classified under the umbrella of vitamin A. Like other carotenoids (e.g., astaxanthin, lycopene, retinol), ß-carotene is a highly effective antioxidant that possesses photoprotective properties. In fact, ß-carotene plays a promising role in protection against sunlight damage, and it has been shown to protect against sunburn. Try out some of our favorites:
- Sweet potatoes
Dark green leafy vegetables are chockfull of a number of skin-nourishing nutrients, including Vitamins C and E, which work together to protect the body against UV radiation and oxidative stress. Vitamin E also protects the collagen in skin from “cross-linking,” which leads to stiffness, loss of elasticity, and rigidity. Here are some of the best nutrient-rich dark leafy greens:
- Swiss chard
- Turnip greens
- Beet greens
- Mustard greens
- Collard greens
Tomatoes contain vitamin C, ß-carotene, and vitamin E, as well as the bright red carotenoid lycopene, which is the most dominant carotenoid in the human skin. Along those lines, lycopene works synergistically with ß-carotene to protect the skin from UV radiation and sunburn. Research suggests that lycopene plays a very prominent role in mitigating oxidative damage in the skin.
Salmon is a very good source of the powerful anti-inflammatory antioxidant astaxanthin. Several studies have been conducted demonstrating astaxanthin’s ability to nourish the skin, demonstrating its ability to protect against UV-induced photodamage. In a series of studies, Japanese researchers found that 6 – 8 weeks of supplementation with astaxanthin led to improvements in skin wrinkles (e.g., crow’s feet), age spots, skin elasticity, skin texture, and skin moisture in both healthy men and women. Of course, salmon is also one of the best dietary sources of the anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to nourish and protect the skin.
Let it glow! Your skin, that is, with these foods, which help promote a healthy, glowing, youthful skin appearance. Keep in mind, however, that nutrition is only one part of the skin health puzzle. According to a group of German dermatology researchers, “Prevention is the best and most effective way to work against extrinsic skin aging effects. The best prevention strategy against the harmful action of free radicals is a well-regulated lifestyle (fasting/caloric restriction, body care, and physical exercise for body), with low stress conditions and a balanced nutritional diet, including anti-oxidative rich food.”