While you can’t stop yourself from aging, you can influence how you do it. The secret to firmer, healthier skin starts with a healthy diet. If you are already committed to eating healthy, you’re probably already helping your complexion. Here are some foods that can help protect and nourish your skin from the inside out.
Wild-Caught Fatty Fish
Omega-3 fatty acids lower triglyceride levels and help decrease inflammation. They also help preserve collagen in the skin which keeps it firmer. The top source of omega-3s is fatty fish, including salmon, herring, mackerel, tuna, sardines, anchovies, and lake trout. A deficiency in omega-3s can leave your skin dry and expose you to higher levels of cell damage from the sun. Adding more foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids will help you keep your skin moisturized and supple. Plant-based omega-3s found in flaxseed, chia seeds, walnut, soy foods, and canola oil also benefit the skin. Omega-3s consumption also lowers the risk for acne and other adverse skin conditions.
Your skin will look and feel better when you consume more foods with healthy fats, such as avocado. In addition to boosting the elasticity of your skin, eating more avocados will also provide greater protection from the UV rays that can cause premature aging and skin cancer. This is largely due to the substantial quantities of vitamin E that this food provides. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that helps fight the free radicals that can lead to skin cell damage. The avocado is also a great source of vitamin C, which helps the body create more collagen for more youthful-looking skin.
All nuts and seeds serve as excellent sources of a variety of nutrients, but walnuts are especially helpful for healthy skin. Aside from fatty fish, walnuts are another great source of both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Since too many omega-6 fatty acids can lead to internal inflammation, the omega-3 fatty acids help keep those levels in check. The two compounds work together to help give the skin the moisture it needs. Nuts are a great source of protein, which promotes cell repair, resulting in improved skin elasticity and tone. Plus, the oils help your skin stay hydrated. Walnuts also contain zinc, which is a nutrient that promotes faster healing, fights off bacteria, and helps reduce inflammation.
Yellow and orange foods like sweet potatoes, pumpkins, carrots, apricots, mangoes, yellow and orange peppers, and egg yolks, are a great source of beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A once ingested. In addition to providing your body with the vitamin A you need, beta carotene contains natural sunblock in the form of an antioxidant called carotenoids. These antioxidants will help protect your skin cells from sun damage. Beta-carotene helps your skin retain moisture and helps repair tissue for smoother, softer skin. Surprisingly, canned pumpkin has more beta-carotene than fresh pumpkin.
Adding more tomatoes to your diet will also help you maintain your skin in better condition. Research has shown that the lycopene in tomatoes can help protect the skin from sun damage. Lycopene is a carotenoid that gives tomatoes their luscious color and acts as an antioxidant, which is known for its anti-aging benefits.. Lycopene also has been shown to be a natural sunscreen, though it does not replace your regular sunscreen. Cooked and canned tomato products contain more lycopene than fresh. Other good sources of lycopene include pink and red grapefruit and watermelon.
Many skin creams now contain green tea. Green tea is high in antioxidants, which helps fight free radicals in the body. Free radicals are unstable molecules that are created as a byproduct of normal cell functions. They can also form from external stressors such as UV light or polluted air. If presented at high levels, free radicals can damage your cells. Antioxidants stabilize free radicals, preventing them from causing damage. Like other antioxidant-containing foods, green tea protects against skin damage. Green, white and black tea also all contain flavonoids, which have been shown to reduce inflammation and prevent wrinkles.
Recent studies in dermatology have found that dark chocolate is actually beneficial to your skin, debunking the myth that all chocolate will lead to acne. It’s now known that dark chocolate is an excellent source of polyphenols, which act as antioxidants, helping fight free radicals in the body. Antioxidants help protect the skin from sun damage and slow signs of aging. The higher the cocoa content, the better, so if you want to add chocolate to your diet, choose one with at least 70% cocoa solids and little added sugar.
Whether you have a specific skin condition that you want to treat or you just want to learn more about protecting your skin, we are here to help. Call our office today at (913) 469-1115 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Kaplan and the team at Adult and Pediatric Dermatology.