The skin is an organ, the largest organ in the human body. As with all your organs and tissues, what you eat affects the health of your skin. Certain foods encourage the skin to dry out prematurely and develop wrinkles—excess refined sugars, for instance. Greasy diets are reflected in clogged pores and blemishes. But other foods will reverse the signs of aging. Some skin protecting foods hydrate the derma, some build up cell walls, and others neutralize damage from the sun and free radicals; to get the most benefit, combine all of these into your diet.
1. Omega-3s fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids do many things for the body: increase short-term memory retention, reduce inflammation, lift a dark mood, and reinforce the skin cell walls. This added support makes cells more full and healthy. Lean fish, walnuts, flaxseed, and extra virgin olive oil are rich in omega-3 fatty acids; supplements are another way to go.
2. Amino acids
The 22 amino acids are the building blocks of life on earth, including human bodies. Amino acids build collagen and elastin, two vital ingredients for healthy skin. Ingesting many amino acids, which our bodies cannot make on their own, will keep your skin elastic and thick; deficiency in collagen or elastin makes its dry and thin. Eggs, meat, and dairy products are good sources of amino acids.
While regular table salt sucks water out of cells, leaving them flaccid and ready to wrinkle, sea salt contains high levels of potassium, which has the opposite effect on skin cells, making them more firm. Besides sea salt (which you can use at the table or in cooking), potassium is present in fruits, meat, poultry, fish, and nuts.
4. Fermented foods
If your digestive tract is full of healthy bacteria, your skin will be amply provided with the nutrients it needs to stay healthy. But a troubled GI tract leads to many problems, including insomnia and tired skin. Too many harmful bacteria in the gut allow toxins to spill out of the intestines and raise inflammation around the body, including the skin. Blotchy, beat skin is one result of this process. Sugar free yogurt introduces healthy probiotics; fermented foods, like sauerkraut and kimchee, are another good source. Buy the refrigerated kimchee, which has a lot of live bacteria.
5. Green and yellow vegetables
Antioxidants are the happy polyphenols—plant chemicals—that keep cells in good shape by repairing oxidative stress, the trauma caused by free radicals (which also can cause cancer). Research conducted in Japan found that women who ate more green and yellow vegetables had younger looking skin than women with a low-vegetable diet.
6. Green tea
Green tea is another fine source of antioxidants, and it’s particularly useful for protecting skin against damage from the sun, a major cause of wrinkles.
Another plant compound, phytoceramides are necessary for keeping skin hydrated. This chemical is present in beets and spinach. The FDA has recently approved phytoceramides as a supplement, and this decision was based on research that these molecules heal dry, wrinkle-prone skin. You can buy one of the top selling phytoceramide formulations available Amazon here.
Vitamin C is a friend to the skin, and to the nervous system. Research from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, performed in 2007, found that eating more vitamin C-rich foods may keep age-related skin dryness away. One cup of strawberries offers 150 percent of the recommended daily dose of vitamin C.
The red hue of a tomato comes from lycopene, which is a carotenoid; this compound fights off skin cancer and keeps skin smooth. Ingesting more lycopene also protects skin from sunburn—in one study, people who were exposed to UV light after eating 2 1/2 tablespoons of tomato paste had half as much skin reddening. Lycopene is also present in watermelons, carrots, red peppers, pink grapefruits, and guavas.
Soy foods— tofu, edamame, soymilk—are rich in isoflavones. Isoflavones are superfoods which preserve collagen, the body material that maintains skin elasticity. Research published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that isoflavones protected against damage from UV light.
Coffee supports mental alertness, reduces headaches, and lowers the risk of getting skin cancer. A huge study (involving 93,000 women), which was published in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention, found that women who drank a single cup of caffeinated coffee every day decreased their risk of developing nonmelanoma skin cancer by 10 percent. Benefits increase with drinking more coffee—up to six cups a day. Decaf didn’t offer the same benefits.
12. Bone broth
Wrinkles happen with the breakdown of skin cells. Collagen is one of the main materials in skin cells, and if it gets depleted, the cells break down. Bone broth is rich in collagen and will transfer this crucial material to your skin cells.