Last time, we let you know what to avoid in order to combat harmful lifestyle effects on the skin.  This week we have some pointers on what to do to maintain healthy skin. 

All the expensive skin care products in the world will not help without a well-balanced, healthy nutritional diet.  What you eat not only goes straight to your hips, it’s also mirrored in your complexion. The things you can do to beautify your skin are remarkably similar to what you can do to strengthen your heart, control your weight, lift your mood, and live longer and better:  get regular exercise, sleep enough, and eat well. Of course, what you can eat to improve your skin tone, texture, evenness and clarity might be different from what you eat to avoid, say, heart disease.

 Here are some foods that feed a clear complexion:

 Whole grains – Whole foods are basically unprocessed — whole wheat bread instead of white bread, for instance.  The whole grain buckwheat is a good source of the antioxidant rutin, which helps combat inflammation-related skin damage.  Wheat germ provides the B-vitamin biotin, which assists cells in processing fats.  If you don’t have enough biotin in your body, your skin can become dry and scaly.

 Fruits and vegetables – Leafy green vegetables contain many antioxidants and other anti-inflammatory nutrients, as well as fiber, which can regulate blood sugar.  The benefits of fruits and vegetables are bright and smooth skin.  The active component in most fruits is Vitamin C.  Vitamin C is a prime skin-care ingredient in several beauty creams.  This vitamin aids in the body’s production of collagen, a protein that forms the basic structure of your skin.  Collagen breakdown, which starts speeding up significantly around the age of 35, can leave your skin saggy.  Consuming extra vitamin C in foods like oranges, grapefruits, Acerola cherries (a single Acerola has 100 percent of your vitamin C for the day), and tomatoes can help tighten the skin and prevent wrinkles.   In case you get tired of eating all that fruit, hot peppers, bell peppers, and sprouts also have good amounts of vitamin C.  You’ll especially want to look for red-orange and green vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes and spinach.  Spinach and other green, leafy foods provide lots of vitamin A, too, which helps your skin produce more fresh new cells and get rid of the old ones, reducing dryness and keeping your face looking bright and young.

 Good Fats – Fatty, ocean-sourced fish such as salmon, albacore tuna, herring, oysters, anchovies, and sardines, as well as walnuts, flaxseed, and canola oil are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids.  Omega-3 fatty acid may reduce inflammation in your body, inflammation that could be exacerbating skin conditions.  These essential fatty acids also help to keep your skin healthy, maintain its natural oil barrier, and make it look younger (less wrinkly) and clearer.  Other sources of “good fats” are olive oil and avocados.  Getting too little omega-3 may contribute to inflammatory disorders like eczema and psoriasis.  Omega-3 fatty acids can also help keep the heart’s arteries clear which improves circulation.  Good circulation is crucial to skin health.

 Tea – Green, black and other teas are a good source of antioxidants.  This contrasts coffee which has a lot of acid that increases insulin production and inflammation, ultimately causing wrinkles.  Limit coffee to one cup a day or switch to tea.

 Water – Staying hydrated with plain-old water is essential to good health and good skin.  It is best to drink filtered water, stored in a glass bottle, throughout the day.

 While oranges, buckwheat, oysters, spinach and almonds are great foods for your skin, achieving great-looking skin through dietary changes doesn’t have to be so specific.  A healthy body means healthy skin.  Just feed your body good, healthy foods, get exercise, keep your stress low, and your skin will reap the benefits.

 By Wendy Schemper
Sources: Skin Inc., Self Magazine, Discovery Health, Real Age