Foods for Ageless Beauty - Nourishing Skin from Inside and Out
Using naturally effective skincare products and eating foods that fortify and foster healthy cells works to renew, repair and rejuvenate skin for lasting beauty.by RenÃ©e Loux
Many authorities have good reason to champion the fact that food nutrients such as antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds and omega oils are now showing up in personal care products. According to studies published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, Food and Chemical Toxicology and Environmental Health Perspectives, skin can absorb up to 60 percent of what we apply to it. So, feeding skin high-quality ingredients may be as critical as the food we eat.
It’s common knowledge that drinking a sufficient amount of pure water is essential for overall health and radiant skin. Here is a look at how other recommended foods contribute to ageless beauty.
Avocados: Avocados are abundant in skin-beautifying goodies: omega-3 fatty acids, which support healthy, flexible, strong cell membranes to ensure that nutrients can enter cells and waste can be removed; antioxidant vitamins A and E; fortifying B-complex vitamins; lecithin, to protect and strengthen cell walls; and potassium, to support new cell growth. They also host a portfolio of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds—including phytosterols, carotenoids, flavonoids, zinc and folate—that fight free radicals and repair, soothe and renew skin and tissue on a cellular level.
Blueberries: The Tufts University Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging reports that blueberries contain some of the highest antioxidant levels of any food, especially when fully ripe, and teem with skin-healing, anti-inflammatory properties. The deep, purple-blue color of these morsels is a reflection of the pigment-rich antioxidant phytonutrients, called anthocynanins, shown to improve the integrity of collagen in skin and inhibit photoaging (sun damage), according to a study in the Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology.
Chocolate: Chocolate offers a wealth of antioxidant catechins (like those found in green tea), and according to the National Academy of Sciences and the European Journal of Nutrition, works to improve hydration, skin density and circulation of blood to skin tissues, for a more youthful, glowing complexion.
Scientific American and the Journal of Investigative Dermatology report that chocolate is also a supreme source of procyanidins, which counter skin damage and help protect it while stimulating cellular growth and renewal. Dark chocolate offers the most beautifying benefits per bite, so look for 65 percent or higher cocoa content, and keep the portions small to mindfully manage calorie and fat intake.
Cruciferous Vegetables: The crucifer family—including cabbage, broccoli, kale and radishes—is loaded with skin-beautifying compounds. According to studies by the National Academy of Sciences, its sulfur-containing phytonutrients boost the body’s natural detoxification enzymes to combat and repair damage to skin. Low in calories, these mineral-dense and antioxidant-rich veggies are packed with carotenoid antioxidants, which help neutralize carcinogens and oxidative stress on skin, reduce inflammation and bolster immune response. They also contain isothiacyanates, which research published by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows, specifically guard against breast cancer.
Dark Leafy Greens: Dark leafy vegetables, such as collard greens, parsley, spinach and Swiss chard, offer more nutrients with fewer calories than any other food. Like cruciferous veggies, they’re packed with carotenoid antioxidants. Green veggies are also an excellent source of vitamins A and C, which the body needs to produce and regulate the sebum in our skin and hair follicles for healthy, well-conditioned skin and a supple complexion.
Green Tea: Green tea is infused with a potent portfolio of age-defying antioxidants. Because green tea is minimally processed, of all the teas, it offers the most antioxidant polyphenols, including a specific catechin believed to inhibit cancer and also beautify the skin.
Micro- and Macro-algae: Micro-algae, including blue-green algae, chlorella and spirulina, are among the most concentrated sources of a full spectrum of beautifying vitamins and minerals for skin and hair and are easy for the body to absorb. These single-celled plants contain one of the highest sources by weight of protein, beta-carotene, nucleic acids (RNA/DNA) and chlorophyll of any food on the planet, according to studies published by the American Society for Microbiology. Micro-algae are available in capsules or tablets, as well as in powder form for powerhouse smoothies.
Ocean-growing seaweed (macro-algae) contains more minerals and trace minerals than any other food, according to research published by Food Chemistry—10 to 20 times more than many land vegetables. Long prized for their beautifying effects on skin and hair, sea vegetables are an abundant source of antioxidant vitamins A, C and E, as well as B-complex vitamins, including B12, for glowing skin; plus they have the unique ergosterol, which converts into vitamin D2 in the body to support healthy skin cell metabolism and growth. Look for sea veggies arame, dulse, hijiki, nori and wakame for a concentrated source of age-defying nutrition.
Omega Oils: Healthy oils, including omega fatty acids, grow and nourish healthy, glowing skin, strong nails and lustrous hair. They act as a conditioner for skin, maintaining and supporting healthy, flexible, strong cell membranes to ensure that nutrients can enter cells and waste can be removed.
Uncooked oils offer many beautifying benefits; because many nutrients are damaged and destroyed by heat—the fresher and less refined the oil, the better. Foods rich in omegas include flax seed and oil; olives and olive oil; pumpkin seed and oil; walnuts; and winter squash.
Raw Honey: With an ample spread of vitamins and minerals, such as antioxidant vitamins A, C and E; skin-supportive vitamins D and K; amino acids; and fortifying, reparative B-complex vitamins, raw honey’s combined flower nectar and enzymes are laden with beautifying nutrients, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and healing compounds. The benefits are largely determined by the honey’s source and the environmental conditions in which the bees live.
Red Wine: Loaded with beneficial antioxidant and anti-inflammatory flavonoids, red wine is a well-known source of cell-protecting resveratrol. Concentrated in the skin of grapes and championed for anti-aging and anticancer properties in studies published by the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology and Anticancer Research, resveratrol appears to protect the skin against the sun’s ultraviolet radiation, notes research in Neoplasia. Cabernet Sauvignon grapes contain some of the highest concentration of age-defying antioxidants.
So, eat and drink up!
RenÃ©e Loux is a celebrated green expert, organic chef, restaurateur and media personality and the co-founder of Andalou Naturals. She has authored four books, including Easy Green Living and The Balanced Plate. Visit ReneeLoux.com.