Everyone and their mother will tell you to wear sunscreen to protect your skin from sun damage and aging. While I agree whole-heartedly with this advice, I also advise using nutrition to compliment your daily sunscreen routine!
Your skin can benefit greatly from eating a nutrient-dense diet. Research shows that a combination of oral and topical sunscreen is the best approach for achieving a radiant glow.
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Where does skin aging come from?
- Natural: Collagen loosens
- Extrinsic: Sun damage, age spots, excess pigmentation, smoking, pollution, sleep deprivation, and yes, poor nutrition!
Skin regeneration requires healthy nutrients throughout life, and in increased amounts under certain conditions such as exposure to free radicals (damage DNA and trigger inflammation throughout the body) and UV radiation. We need to ingest these compounds in the right amounts in order to nourish and protect the skin. (Higher intakes of Vitamin C and linoleic acid are associated with better skin-aging appearance.)
- Healthy fats —> avocados + almonds
- Vitamin E —> wheat germ, nuts, seeds + green leafy vegetables
- Vitamin A —> sweet potatoes, carrots + liver
- Vitamin C —> bell peppers, broccoli + citrus fruits
The best way to ensure that you’re getting the RIGHT amount of antioxidants and vitamins is to eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables every day! 5-7 servings of colorful plants per day will help prevent your skill from aging and boost overall health!
How can I boost my skin defense?
The human body is amazing in its ability to adapt and protect! There is a constant battle being fought against foreign invaders and harmful toxins which we are totally unaware of most days. Our skin is our largest organ in our immune defense system and is our first line of defense.
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The two main types of damage from the sun are UVA and UVB radiation.
UVB — affects mainly the epidermis, the thin outer layer of the skin, and is responsible for sunburn.
- also contributes to immune suppression, premature skin aging and skin cancer
UVA — penetrates the skin deeper to where our collagen actually lives!
- plays a substantial role in photo-aging.
We all know that we need to apply sunscreen before going out in the sun to prevent sunburn, but did you know that we can increase our skin’s SPF factor by eating certain foods?
The Key Players
- Carotenoids — natural pigments found in fruits and vegetables
- what to eat: sweet potatoes, spinach + carrots!
- Lycopene — red pigmentation found in veggies and fruits
- what to eat: tomato paste + watermelon!
- Lutein — phytochemical that filters potentially damaging light
- what to eat: dark green leafy veggies like spinach + kale!
It’s important to note that the most potent form of lycopene comes from cooked tomatoes that have been prepared with olive oil. Absorption of lycopene from cooked tomato paste is 3.8 times that from fresh tomato. The olive oil increases serum lycopene, acting as a transport vehicle!
The Bottom Line: The old saying “we are what we eat” really IS true. If we eat a whole-foods based diet we will be beautiful just like the plants we consume!
What are your favorite recipes from the anti-aging foods above? Let us know in the comments or on our social channels!
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Click here to read Ginger Hodulik Downey’s book The Esthetician’s Guide to Outstanding Esthetics.