What we eat has a direct effect on how we look; the skin is a bell-weather for overall health. Dehydration makes the skin loose and dry, ingesting too many saturated fats leads to blotches and breakouts, and consuming too much sugar and caffeine influences hormone production. But eating a diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables will make your skin healthier and younger looking, reducing the fine lines around the eyes and shoring up the collagen inside skin cells, which keeps them firm. Here are ten superfoods that encourage younger looking skin.
As its name suggests, watermelon is mostly made up of water, which makes it a fine source of hydration. Eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day should be considered the minimum for staying properly hydrated; any more water you ingest will help your skin stay soft. Watermelon also contains lycopene, an antioxidant found in red colored fruits and vegetables that neutralizes free radicals in the bloodstream. Free radicals, caused by ultraviolet exposure, age skin prematurely and can lead to cancerous growths.
Rich in vitamin E, almonds are a very healthy snack, especially when left unsalted. Vitamin E is another antioxidant that repairs cell damage caused by sun exposure. The omega 3 fatty acids in almonds also calm inflammation in the intestinal tract, which otherwise may manifest as blotchy skin; there’s a direct tie between digestive health and skin health. One more benefit: people who eat several servings of nuts a week are less likely to gain extra weight than people who do not—nuts are a “zero calorie” snack.
3. Chia seeds
Another great source of omega 3 essential fatty acids, chia seeds are a true superfood. They help heal blemishes, soften the skin, and decrease wrinkles, all because of their anti-inflammatory omega 3s.
Along with watermelons, tomatoes are a strong source of lycopene and hydration. Besides these two skin aids, tomatoes are rich in carotenoids, which give the derma a healthy glow (carrots are well known for this benefit too).
In the same plant family as tomatoes (solanum), peppers are friends to the skin. A red bell pepper has more vitamin C than an orange, along with other helpful antioxidants. Vitamin C maintains nervous and immune system health, both of which affect skin health. Hotter peppers, like cayenne, contain capsaicin, a plant compound that increases circulation and helps pull toxins out of the skin.
Folate is a B vitamin, very important to the body; it helps repair DNA and neutralize skin cancer risks. Spinach has lots of folate, and good fiber content. Leafy greens like spinach, kale, turnip greens, dandelion leaves, asparagus, and broccoli have iron, vitamin A, and vitamin K. Vitamin K prevents varicose veins; iron caries oxygen through the blood, aiding circulation; vitamin A stops the overproduction of skin cells, which can clog pores and/or lead to skin cancer.
To keep your skin elastic and youthful, you need protein from amino acids. Meat and dairy is one way to ingest protein, or you can go with plant-based proteins— powdered spirulina (an ancient blue green algae), makes a delicious, energizing smoothie.
8. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is good for the skin, whether you ingest it as food or apply it externally. Externally, coconut oil protects from the sun, softens skin, and fights off bacteria. Internally, its omega 3 fatty acids calm inflammation and lift a dark mood.
9. Sweet Potatoes
Root vegetables are high in fiber, which aids digestion and keeps blood sugar levels steady, both of which are good for the skin. Sweet potatoes are full of carotenoids and vitamin C, boosting collagen production. Collagen is what gives the skin its strength, firmness, and flexibility.
10. Whole Grains
Rich in B vitamins—these aid cells to process fats for hydration—whole grains are essential to a healthy diet. Unlike refined carbohydrates (white breads and bagels), whole grains are absorbed gently into the GI tract, so they don’t create blood sugar spikes and crashes, which are partially responsible for acne.