by Janna Neitzel
We’ve all heard how important it is to eat out fruits and vegetables (for most of us, from nagging/loving parents). But did you know produce is also good for your skin? Indeed, studies have shown that eating enough fruits and veggies over eight weeks can lead to healthier skin, fight wrinkles and other signs of aging! (Om nom nom, “no way!”)
Seriously though, and it’s all thanks to the effect of lycopene (a plant nutrient especially high in tomatoes) and polyphenols (a type of plant nutrient found in grapes, peanuts, tea and even wine). These mighty food compounds may boost your arteries’ elasticity and your skin’s health.
So how do we go about eating our way to a more vibrant self? Here are a few tips:
1. Limit your sugar.
Added sugar is almost everywhere these days, in a culture that increasingly turns to processed, packaged foods. Nowadays, we can mindlessly eat these foods alone in our cars (guilty, as charged).
Unfortunately, while we’ve started conditioning our tastebuds to desire more and more sugar, excessive sugar intake may affect not only your waistline, but also the bodies ability to maintain cellular health. Our skin is the first to suffer but even our gut (which is increasingly being called the “second brain” for its link to eh-ver-ee-thing) can take a hit. The collagen in our skin begins to breakdown, which makes the skin less elastic than it should be.
Does this mean you can never have a cupcake? HECK NO! (“Ok, whew, she’s not totally crazy!”) But perhaps satisfying some of your cravings naturally with sweet fruits and vegetables can help your skin – as well as what’s within.
2. Eat the rainbow.
No, not Skittles, but antioxidants! These are substances in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and oils which protect cells from damage and disintegration. One antioxidant is carotene, which gives carrots and sweet potatoes that beautiful orange color.
So make your meals and snacks as colorful as possible. Not only will you be eating your way to a more beautiful you, but your plate will be prettier, too. Heyoooo!
Dehydration can dry out your whole body – skin included. So try minimizing calories in beverages: opt for water (try it infused), milk, unsweetened coffee or tea, and seltzer.
What about alcohol? (“I thought she said wine was healthy, what gives?!”) While the occasional glass of red wine is beneficial, excessive consumption can increase the production of free radicals and increase the breakdown of collagen, which doesn’t look pretty. Plus, alcohol is a source of calories, and too much can elevate triglycerides (blood fats), increase the risk of breast cancer, and compromise liver health.
4. Don’t shun fat.
Many people pride themselves on keeping their fat intake to a minimum. They shouldn’t.
The monounsaturated fats found in foods like nuts, seeds, olive oil and avocados decrease oxidative stress, which impacts elasticity, collagen and firmness of the skin, and the development of wrinkles. Studies have also shown that olive oil lowers the risk of severe photoaging, or light damage primarily from the sun, and that the omega-3 fatty acids in salmon, sardines and flaxseed keeps skin cell membranes strong and elastic.
So try to include a healthy source of those good fats at most meals and snacks (think apple slices with nut butter).
5. Seek balance.
The skin yearns for caloric balance. That means not too much, but not too little protein, carbohydrate, fat, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fluid. So don’t nutritionally disrespect your body – or your skin may show the neglect.
Love yourself, lovely ladies, and your skin (and whole body) will love you right back!
Janna lives in Albany, NY and is a college campus dietitian—how cool is that?! She never gets tired of talking and reading all about nutrition. Running is another thing that makes her who she is — she’s convinced it makes her a smarter, kinder, and overall higher-quality human (and there’s research to back that up). Her free time is filled with adventures, outdoor time, wine/cocktails/brewery visits, far too much Netflix, and ample laughter. She cannot wait to learn about you all, talk geeky nutrition talk, and answer any questions you can throw at her.