Like it or not, aging is a fact of life. It’s better than the alternative we say to ourselves. That doesn’t mean that we can’t age gracefully, however, and look beautiful no matter what decade of life we are in.
Your skin is a complex three-layered organ that is exposed to both intrinsic (within the body) and extrinsic (environmental) factors that cause it to appear discoloured, sunken, wrinkled, and, well, aged. Thankfully, we can combat much of what causes our skin to appear aged using what we choose to include in our daily diet.
Nutrients for Skin Health
As previously mentioned, your skin is an active organ, just like your heart, liver, and kidneys. Unlike the rest of your organs, however, your skin is exposed to environmental elements such as damaging UV rays, pollution, toxins, chemicals, and extreme weather conditions. (1) (2)Proper nutrition will protect and create healthy, younger looking skin.
How well do you know your healthy ingredients? Take the quiz to find out!
Antioxidants such as Vitamin C, E, A, beta-carotene, Polyphenols, and Flavanoids fight back against the oxidative damage done by free radicals and sun exposure. They also play a role in collagen synthesis, which provides structure and elasticity to our skin. Antioxidants suppress inflammation and can protect against photoaging. (1)
Watch The Hearty Soul’s chef, Talia Chai, make a refreshing wine fruit slushie that puts antioxidants to great use!
Recent studies have proven that this vitamin is important for much more than bone health. Research shows that Vitamin D may actually protect your skin from UV-induced cell death, which not only causes your skin to look older, but also can lead to skin cancer. (1) (3)
Prebiotics and Probiotics
Just as your gut has important bacteria keeping it healthy and functioning well, so does your skin. Including pre-and probiotics in your diet is essential for the microbiota and immune function of your skin’s cells, preventing skin diseases and aging. (1) (4)
Essential Fatty Acids
These are the fatty acids that our body cannot produce and we have to consume through diet. Healthy fats, especially Omega-3s, are responsible for maintaining collagen production and elasticity, keeping your skin hydrated, and creating a barrier against UV rays and sun damage. (1) (5)
14 Foods for Younger-looking Skin
We know, we know, this is not a food. That being said, if you do one thing for your skin, that should be drinking more water! Dehydration causes your skin to appear dry, dull, and lifeless and makes it more susceptible to fine lines and wrinkles. It is important to note that you should be drinking good water, such as natural spring or filtered. Water that contains heavy metals and other toxins will have the opposite effect. (6)
Salmon and other fatty fish such as albacore tuna, trout, and shrimp are an excellent source of carotenoids (astaxanthin and retinol) as well as antioxidants with photoprotective properties. Salmon also contains high levels of vitamin D, coenzyme 10, and omega-3 fatty acids, all of which promote UV protection, hydration, and skin regeneration. Be sure to choose organic, wild caught salmon, and try this salmon recipe tonight. (1) (3)(5)
3. Coffee and Red Wine
Turns out, you don’t need to skip your morning cup of joe or evening glass of wine, in fact, they may actually help you look younger. Coffee the skins of red wine grapes are rich in polyphenols, which have powerful antioxidant properties and play a role in the prevention of diseases associated with oxidative stress. Studies have shown that coffee consumption may actually help reduce the risk of developing melanoma, and red wine also has plenty of other health-promoting benefits. Skip the sugar in your coffee, and try this flavor boost instead. (1) (7) (8)
Also remember that coffee and wine act as diuretics (which means they can dehydrate you). So for every cup of coffee or glass of wine, make sure you follow-up with two cups of water. Cheers to that!
But not just any chocolate – it has to be a minimum of 75% cocoa to see any benefits. Just like coffee, chocolate is full of antioxidants and polyphenols to improve the look of your skin. Sugar is healthy skin’s nemesis so make sure to avoid milk chocolate, or sugary coated and filled chocolate options.
The darker the better, so try these dark chocolate recipes you’ll be sure to love. (1)
5. Dark, Leafy Greens
Unfortunately, skin health isn’t ALL chocolate and wine. Kale, spinach, and other dark leafy greens are packed with vitamin C, vitamin A, and the carotenoid lutein. All of these nutrients are critical in fighting back against oxidative damage and detoxifying your skin, as well as the rest of your body. (1) (9)
These fruits masquerading as a vegetable contain high levels of lycopene, a carotenoid that mitigates oxidative damage in tissues such as your skin. Cooking tomatoes makes for even better absorption of the nutrient. (1)
7. Orange Vegetables
Carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, and squash get their orange hue from beta-carotene. This carotenoid is known for its photoprotective properties and skin benefits. Eating lots (and we mean lots) of these brightly colored veggies may also help give you a natural, sun-kissed glow. (1)
8. Whole Eggs
The amino acids in the whites of eggs are essential for the creation of collagen in our skin, and the carotenoid retinol in the yolks is responsible for the growth and maintenance of cells and tissues of the skin. (1)
9. Green Tea
Among the many other benefits, this tea contains flavonoids and polyphenols that protect from the cutaneous signs of aging and can improve the elastic tissue content in your skin. You can drink it or use it topically for the benefits. (1)
10. Fermented Foods
The latest food and health trend for 2017, fermented foods are probiotic powerhouses to improve the microbiota of your skin and protect against damage that causes aging. Try kimchi, full-fat kefir, and kombucha. (1) (4)
11. Organ Meats
Liver and other organ meats are protein packed for collagen production and contain high levels of carotenoids and the antioxidant coenzyme 10, which protect your skin cells and keep you looking young. (1)
With all of its essential fatty acids (EFA), vitamins, and minerals, it’s easy to see why avocados are so good for your face and body. Eat it, or use topically it in your skin routine to perk up dull skin. (1) Other sources of healthy fats include chi seeds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and hemp seeds.
13. Citrus Fruits
Fruits such as lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruits are some of the best sources of vitamin C, which will help your body produces collagen and used topically can lighten dark spots and other signs of aging. Try this lemon juice spot treatment to reduce scars and marks. (1)
What can’t turmeric do? The curcumin in turmeric is a potent antioxidant that will suppress inflammation, protect, and improve the appearance of your skin. Try these recipes to include more turmeric in your diet. (1)
Two Thing to Avoid
If there is one food to avoid at all costs, it’s sugar. Especially for those who suffer from acne, sugar spikes your insulin levels, disrupts your immune system, and causes premature aging. (10)
Among many other health risks, smoking makes you look older. It causes oxidative damage causing deep wrinkles, discolorations, and sunken skin. (11)