I wanted to know her secret. She attributed everything to genetics, but I knew she maintained a regimen for glowing, healthy skin.
Beyond a great moisturizer, fabulous skin evolves from what you eat. Beauty comes from within, and the best dermatologist and cleansers can't rescue a terrible diet's detrimental effects on your skin. My friend employed these five strategies. For a younger, healthier, more vibrant complexion, you should too.
- Upgrade your oils. Vegetable oils and processed foods come loaded with inflammatory fats that wreak havoc on your body and your skin. Among the signs you're not getting enough high-quality oils and fats include dry, itchy, scaling, or flaking skin. Skip pro-inflammatory vegetable oils for extra virgin olive oil (drizzling on salads), olive oil (sautéing), and coconut or red palm oil (high-heat cooking). Avocado, olives, and coconut milk also provide healthy fat for glowing skin. Raw nuts and nut butters make healthy snacks rich in good fat. One study found the omega-3 eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) in wild-caught fish and fish oil could help prevent skin aging.
- Keep it colorful. "Most of what we consider 'aging' skin is really the accumulation of oxidative (free radical) damage," writes Dr. Jonny Bowden in his book The Most Effective Ways to Live Longer. Leafy and cruciferous vegetables as well as low-sugar impact fruits like berries provide valuable nutrients and antioxidants to fight free-radical damage and support healthy skin. As you get older, your collagen breaks down, leading to wrinkles. Since your body requires vitamin C to synthesize collagen, you'll want to get optimal amounts from fruits and vegetables like broccoli and berries. One study found the anti-aging compound resveratrol - found in grapes, blueberries, and yes, red wine - could prevent age-related skin disorders.
- Ditch the sugar. Sugar isn't doing you any favors, and that goes double for your skin. Sugar attaches to the protein collagen in a process called glycosylation or glycation. "Glycation is what happens when sugar molecules glom onto protein molecules," says Bowden. "These sticky proteins gum up the works like cotton candy, and eventually creates AGEs (advanced glycation end products)." One study found skin AGEs accumulation contributes to the loss of skin elasticity.
- Add your protein. High-quality protein like wild-caught salmon, grass-fed beef, and (if you're not intolerant) barnyard eggs offer optimal amounts of collagen-building amino acids. Animal protein also contains zinc, a mineral studies show provides excellent antioxidant protection for glowing skin. Make breakfast a protein-rich shake that combines non-soy, non-dairy protein powder, unsweetened coconut milk, berries, kale, and flax or chia seeds for a fast, filling, fat-burning meal that's also fabulous for your skin.
- Drink up. Water, that is! Once you realize you're thirsty, you're already dehydrated, which takes its toll on your skin. Keep a canteen filled with filtered water nearby to quench your thirst and hydrate your cells so nutrients stay in and toxins get out. Proper hydration means you sweat more efficiently to keep your skin glowing and looking fabulous. One study showed about two cups of water every day improved blood flow to your skin, but I want you to aim for at least 64 ounces total. Start with a big glass first thing in the morning and drink throughout the day. The only time you shouldn't is during meals, when too much liquid can dilute stomach enzymes that break down protein.
What strategy would you add for healthy, glowing skin? Is there a particular food that wreaks havoc on your skin? Share yours below or on my Facebook page.