Although most of us rely on products like moisturizers, serums, and masks to maintain our complexion, a healthy diet is critical for keeping skin looking young and vibrant. While amazing genes and expensive treatments can play a role in skin health, good nutrition can help to nourish the skin from the inside out and enhance your natural beauty. Follow these tips for glowing skin….
Cut Out The Sugar
It is well know that excess sugar in the diet should be avoided. Sugar negatively impacts the body in many ways including taking a toll on skin health. A diet high in sugary foods can encourage a process called glycation. Glycation is a natural process in the body in which sugars in your bloodstream attach to proteins. This forms molecules called advanced glycation end products (AGEs).
Due to their slow turnover rates, collagen and elastin are extremely susceptible to glycation. Glycation causes these proteins to become damaged and can cause the skin to age prematurely. AGEs also make your skin more vulnerable to UV light and irritants like cigarette smoke and pollution. Low glycemic diets have also been found to be therapeutic in people with acne-prone skin.
To cut back on the amount of added sugar in your diet, stick to a whole foods diet and avoid packaged and processed foods as much as possible. A helpful hint for reading labels: 4 grams of sugar equals one teaspoon.
Eat The Rainbow
Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables daily will increase your intake of antioxidants, which help to combat premature aging of the skin. Research has show that beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, and selenium function to protect your skin from UV light and improve skin elasticity and quality.
Vitamin C is involved in the production of collagen and helps to protect your skin from UV damage. Sources include strawberries, mango, bell peppers, lemons, pineapple, kale, raspberries, oranges, and grapefruit.
Vitamin E also helps to protect your skin from sun damage and has powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Sources include sunflower seeds, spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, almonds, Swiss chard, peanuts, olive oil, and avocado.
Beta Carotene is a carotenoid that is a precursor to vitamin A. Beta carotene is either converted to vitamin A in the body or acts as an antioxidant to protect cells from oxidation. Beta carotene helps to protect the skin from free radical damage and vitamin A promotes cell turnover. Sources of beta carotene include carrots, sweet potatoes, grapefruits, spinach, butternut squash, apricots, watermelon, mangos, and tomatoes.
Selenium is a trace mineral that has antioxidant properties and helps to protect cell membranes from damage. Selenium is a component of glutathione peroxidase, which is an enzyme that is necessary for the functioning of glutathione, a potent antioxidant. Glutathione protects the body against free radical damage that can cause inflammation and premature aging of the skin. Selenium has also been shown to be effective in preventing skin cancers in animal studies. Sources of selenium include Brazil nuts, oysters, sunflower seeds, mushrooms, wheat germ, brown rice, eggs, chicken, and turkey.
Adequate hydration is an important factor in keeping your skin looking fresh and luminous. Your body uses water in every cell to help regulate your temperature, transport nutrients and oxygen, remove waste, and for chemical and metabolic reactions. Being properly hydrated will keep your cells plump and full resulting in firm, clear skin. Although water is the best choice for hydration, unsweetened green tea is also a good option. Green tea contains compounds called polyphenols, which possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and can help to protect your skin against UV damage
How can you tell if you are properly hydrated? Look for light yellow urine. Dark yellow or gold colored urine may indicate dehydration. Although your need for water will vary based on body size, activity levels, diet, and environmental conditions, it is recommended that women get at least 11 cups of fluids per day. For men, 15 cups is suggested.
Cut Back On Alcohol
Although an occasional cocktail is something that many of us enjoy, frequent alcohol use can take a toll on your skin health. Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it makes you urinate more frequently, forcing water from the body. At the same time, alcohol inhibits the hormone vasopressin, which helps the body to reabsorb water. This combination leads to dehydration, and dull, tired looking skin. Alcohol also acts as a vasodilator, leading to a puffy and flushed complexion.
Mixed cocktails can contain extraordinary amounts of sugar and salt, which we have already established as being detrimental to your skin. If you are going to a few drinks, you can minimize the effects of the alcohol on your skin by hydrating with glasses of water between drinks and being sure to have a healthy meal or snack with your cocktails. Hydrating before you start drinking and before bed will help minimize the chance of waking up with a hangover and dull, puffy skin.
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