Glowing, spotless, wrinkle-free skin is much valued in our society. We’re willing to spend a lot for that look. It’s estimated that the skin care industry in the U.S. is worth about $43 billion per year. But healthy skin starts from the inside, not just from creams and lotions applied on the outside.
Below are three important ways to keep your skin — and your whole body — healthy.
1. Eat Your Way to Healthy Skin
Eating a diet rich in certain vitamins and fats may provide anti-aging effects for your skin. Let’s look at some of the best choices for skin health.
Citrus and other vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables: Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is key to the production of collagen, a protein that gives skin its firmness and strength. Vitamin C also helps create scar tissue and ligaments, and it helps your skin repair itself. Collagen breakdown, which speeds up significantly after the age of 35, can leave your skin saggy. Consuming sources of vitamin C such as oranges, grapefruits, mangos, melons, strawberries, tomatoes and broccoli may help tighten the skin and slow down the onset of wrinkles.
Orange-red fruits and vegetables such as carrots, apricots, mangos, cantaloupe and sweet potatoes are full of beta-carotene, which our bodies convert into vitamin A. Vitamin A helps your skin produce more new cells and get rid of the old ones, reducing dryness. In the case of vitamin A, you also get anti-acne benefits — vitamin A has been used in acne medications for many years. It’s best to get this vitamin from food and not from supplements because too much vitamin A can cause hair loss and other health problems.
Avocados, nuts, eggs and wheat germ all provide vitamin E, which is thought to help protect your skin from sun damage. It also tends to help skin hold in moisture and relieve dryness, which makes skin look younger.
Fatty fish: Oily or fatty fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies and sardines provide beneficial omega-3 fatty acids. (Keep in mind that “fatty” fish is always leaner than “lean” beef.) These “good fats” have received a great deal of attention for their potential in boosting heart health and reducing inflammation. Some research shows that getting too little omega-3 may contribute to skin disorders like eczema and psoriasis. Omega-3 fatty acids can also help keep the heart’s arteries clear and so improve circulation. Good circulation is key to skin health.
Remember, many of the best foods for healthy skin also promote good health overall. Rather than focusing on specific foods for healthy skin, concentrate on a healthy diet in general. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Try to eat fish or shellfish at least once a week. Include nuts, seeds and beans in your favorite meals. Opt for whole-grain breads and pasta. Strive for variety as you’re making healthy choices.
2. Sun Protection Is Critical for Healthy Skin
Damage from overexposure to the sun’s radiation presents itself in several ways. A painful burn is a sure sign of short-term damage. Signs of permanent damage become apparent over time. Too much time in the sun can cause:
- Wrinkles. The sun’s ultraviolet rays break down the connective tissue in your skin and your skin loses its elasticity.
- Irregular pigmentation of your skin, especially on your face.
- Dark brown spots called liver or age spots (dermatologists call them solar lentigines) that appear most often on the forehead, forearms or hands.
- Skin cancer.
Just because summer is over doesn’t mean you can stop applying sunscreen for the next nine months. The American Academy of Dermatology strongly recommends applying sunscreen 365 days a year. Use sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. A wide-brimmed hat, a tightly woven long-sleeve shirt and long pants are also good ways to protect your skin.
Do not try to maintain a summer tan with visits to the tanning salon. Indoor tanning beds are as dangerous as natural sunlight. Most tanning light bulbs emit longer-wave UV-A rays, which penetrate the skin more deeply than UV-B rays. UV-A rays significantly raise the risk of developing melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer.
3. Stop Smoking to Stop Damage to Your Skin
Smoking speeds up the normal aging process of your skin, contributing to wrinkles. These skin changes may occur after only 10 years of smoking. The more cigarettes you smoke and the longer you smoke, the more skin wrinkling you’re likely to have — even though the early skin damage from smoking may be hard for you to see. The nicotine in cigarettes causes narrowing of the blood vessels of your skin. With less blood flow, your skin doesn’t get as much oxygen and important nutrients, such as vitamin A. Tobacco smoke also damages collagen, which gives your skin its strength and elasticity. As a result, skin begins to sag and wrinkle prematurely.
Gingered Carrots and Oranges Makes 6 servings
The perfect complement to grilled salmon or roast chicken — you’ll enjoy the mix of spicy, sweet and tart flavors, and your skin will appreciated the vitamin A and vitamin C.
|Ingredients2 pounds peeled baby carrots1 11-oz can mandarin orange segments and juice
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup dried cranberries or tart cherries
2 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger
|Preparation Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan. Simmer over medium-low heat until the carrots are tender, about 15 minutes.Nutritional info
0.1g Saturated fat