Guest blogger Katie Brind'Amour is back today with some tips for starting out the new year by eating your way to healthier skin. -- AP
Eating Right can Protect Your Skin
While many people know that eating certain foods can improve mood, trim your waist, and affect your energy levels, it may be a lesser known fact that eating right can protect your skin from the inside out. I recently moved to not-so-sunny Columbus from sunny-everyday Phoenix, and I must admit, my skincare concerns are a bit different in this part of the country. Instead of worrying about a daily sunburn (yes, even in December!), I’m worried about ashy winter skin and a dull complexion. Oh, how the Midwest has changed me!
Thankfully, nature has been good to us in this realm, as in many others. There are a variety of things you can put into your body to keep your skin looking great, naturally, safely, and on a regular basis – no expensive creams or serums required.
Munch and sip your way to healthier skin with the foods below.
For starters, swap your Diet coke for some green tea. The antioxidants help your skin protect itself from ultraviolet rays while repairing DNA damage. In addition, the zero calorie hydration you will get from regularly sipping this healthy tea will keep your skin more moisturized and brilliant. Bonus: you can apply it directly to your skin if you prefer to take your tea topically!
Yogurt or other sources of low-fat dairy are essential to healthy skin. Not only are the protein and calcium essential for a healthy diet, but the Vitamin A that dairy is filled with is also critical for your skin’s elasticity and firmness. Vitamin A helps your skin produce and protect its collagen, which builds the structure of your skin and can help keep your skin elastic and resilient. For an awesome combo, try adding berries to your yogurt to get a boost from the fruity antioxidants that will help fight ultraviolet ray damage.
Chow down on some salmon. The healthy fats, such as Omega-3 fatty acids, found in salmon and other fish, nuts, and vegetable oils (like olive oil) can help reduce inflammation, protect skin from some amounts of sun exposure, and boost your immune system. Salmon in particular contains astaxanthin, an antioxidant that may fight sagging and wrinkles. Olive oil, which is high in healthy fats, can also work as a topical skin relief ointment when applied to mild dermatitis. If you prefer to get your healthy fats from nuts, try Brazil nuts – their selenium can boost your immune system and their Vitamin E can improve circulation, giving your skin a healthy glow.
Little green fruits are your friends, so grab a kiwi. This potent and tangy fruit is chock full of Vitamin C (even more so than most citrus fruits!) and can help protect the collagen in your skin by building and repairing connective tissues, such as your skin.
Whole grains, which are healthy for a number of reasons, can help boost your skin’s immunity and general resiliency and health. Not only are grains high in fiber and a healthy source of complex carbohydrates, but they also provide plenty of important B vitamins for your skin, such as folate, niacin, and rutin. They also contain skin-saving micronutrients such as zinc and magnesium, which can boost your skin’s overall health.
Spice things up with turmeric. A wildly popular spice in India and many areas of the Middle East, turmeric is a potent source of curcumin, which may help prevent the growth of squamous cell carcinomas, a dangerous and increasingly common form of skin cancer. Yes, this should have been a regular ingredient in my cooking in Phoenix. The antioxidants in this miracle spice also reduce inflammation and protect your skin cells from damage caused by the sun and other factors.
Is there anything dark chocolate can’t do? In my last guest post, I was thrilled to report the positive impact dark chocolate can have on mood and mild symptoms of depression; now I am just as excited to report that in addition to mental health benefits, dark chocolate can protect your skin! Not only can the topical application of cocoa butter serve as an emollient that preserves your skin’s moisture and elasticity, but eating dark chocolate can protect your skin from sun damage and promote blood vessel health. This in turn boosts oxygen flow to your skin, creating a healthy glow.
Eat Up, Already!
Is there anything more glorious than learning that you can eat your way to a beautiful complexion and healthy, glowing skin? I think not. Even though I am a notorious failure at regularly wearing sunscreen, I can at least boast a diligent adherence to the skincare regimen of eating dark chocolate. I wonder if there is an exponential effect, wherein the more I eat, the better my skin gets…maybe I will give it a try. I figure as long as I occasionally trade it out with some yogurt, berries, nuts, or kiwi, it’s OK to experiment!
Thanks, Katie! I'm off to scarf down some guilt-free dark chocolate! -- AP