Find the Fountain of Youth...
Hint: it's closer than you think.
Radiant skin begins within. There aren't too many shortcuts I believe in when it comes to healthcare. However, I do believe this: if the fountain of youth does exist, it'll be found in your kitchen. The top ten foods that promote radiant skin are those that truly nourish and protect it.
1. WILD SALMON
Anti-inflammatory, Firms Skin
Salmon is a treasure trove of beneficial, anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids that help repair and protect skin. As a bonus, they lock moisture into your skin to protect it from getting dehydrated, which leads to dull skin and early wrinkles. It's also chock-full of healthy proteins that your skin needs to repair damage and maintain its integral structure.
Note: wild salmon really is better than farmed, which is often raised in contaminated waters and is full of added dyes. These are bad for your body, which is bad news for your skin.
Anti-aging, Prevent Redness
All berries are high in antioxidants that specifically support the cardiovascular system, and our blood vessels. These compounds are called proanthcyanodins, and they strengthen our blood vessels. In skincare, they minimize broken blood vessels that can manifest as redness and inflammation. The antioxidants in berries also protect our skin from the seriously damaging effects of free radicals, which irreparably damage our skin cells.
Blueberries are particularly high in fiber and in antioxidants.
Strawberries have lots of vitamin C, an antioxidant vitamin that protects our skin from damage.
Note: it's really important to buy organic berries: conventionally farmed berries are not worth the toxin exposure.
3. OLIVE OIL
ORGANIC OLIVE OIL
Anti-inflammatory, Nourishes Skin
Olive oil is rich in nutrients called phenols and polyphenols which are plant-based compounds that have major anti-inflammatory benefits. Inflammation is a key culprit in early skin damage, because it is an inherently damaging process.
Olive oil also has lots of omega fatty acids called monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs). These have been extensively studied for their heart health and anti-diabetes benefits. Olive oil also has lots of vitamin E, which is a natural skin-protecting antioxidant.
It's best to buy organic extra virgin olive oil, as pesticides concentrate in fat-based foods like oils. Extra virgin olive oil does not contain added chemicals, and it was not heated in the process of making it (heating oils can denature the delicate essential fatty acids, making them trans-fats which are bad for you).
Avocados are not only high in essential fatty acids that help maintain your skin's youthfulness by nourishing skin cells; they are also full of important vitamins and minerals that deeply feed our skin. Avocados are high in vitamins C and E which work together to protect your skin from free radical damage, B vitamins to promote cell regeneration, and minerals to promote skin detoxification and skin cell health.
Avocados are an incredibly nutrient-dense food, and they are also delicious!
Regenerate Skin, Anti-Inflammatory
Walnuts are a powerhouse of vitamins, minerals, and the omega-3 fatty acids that protect and maintain your skin's youthful integrity. Specifically, they're rich in the B vitamin biotin, which you'll find in supplements specifically designed for skincare. That's because it's a required mineral for skin regeneration. Walnuts have another vitamin, vitamin E, which is an antioxidant that's especially good for the skin: it protects our skin from free radical damage that causes early aging. The particular form of vitamin E in walnuts is actually a very special form of vitamin E that not only protects the skin, but also protects the heart.
Plus, walnuts are full of minerals like copper, manganese, and molybdenum which our bodies need for proper cell function and maintenance.
6. DARK LEAFY GREENS
DARK LEAFY GREENS
Detoxifying, Regenerate Skin
Dark leafy greens are full of fiber and phytochemicals (a fancy way of saying damage-fighting compounds that come from plants) that protect cells and promote liver detoxification. When I see patients with chronic skin issues and/or acne, I always think of liver support. That's because our liver filters our blood, and our blood nourishes every cell in our body. When our liver becomes sluggish because of too many toxins from our environment and from eating processed foods, it can't filter our blood efficiently. What does that mean for our skin? Our skin cells get less nutrition and toxins build up in our skin's tissue because our blood can't pick up those toxins. So they stick around in our skin's tissue and they cause major skin cell damage. The net result? Early aging.
They also contain lots of vitamins and minerals that your skin needs to stay firm and healthy.
Examples of dark leafy greens: kale, swiss chard, collard greens, mustard greens. One of my personal favorites is lacinto, or dino, kale!
7. SWEET POTATOES
Sweet potatoes are full of beta carotene, a form of vitamin A that's naturally found in fruits and veggies (especially orange veggies like squashes and sweet potatoes). Vitamin A is necessary for our skin because it promotes skin regeneration by encouraging DNA repair and skin cell turnover. In addition to a mega dose of beta carotene, you also get lots of vitamin C (which partners with vitamin E to protect your skin inside and out) and lots of B vitamins (including biotin) to ramp up skin repair and regeneration.
Sweet potatoes also have lots of skin-healthy copper and are full of fiber for a natural cleansing effect.
Anti-Aging, Regenerate Skin
Organic, humanely farm-raised eggs are your skin's best friend. Healthy chickens who are fed a diet of organic foods high in omega-3's will lay eggs high in omega-3's. Egg yolks also have choline, which supports skin cell structure for anti-aging. Eggs contain lots of B vitamins, vitamins A and D, and the minerals selenium, molybdenum, and iodine to support general health and detoxification. Eggs also have a lot of protein which supports skin structure and skin cell renewal and regeneration.
Note: it's possible to buy inexpensive eggs at the grocery store, but I don't recommend those. I go for organic eggs laid by happy, healthy hens because they'll be lower in stress hormones and much, much higher in nutrients. When it comes to eggs you really do get what you pay for.
9. GREEN TEA
ORGANIC GREEN TEA
Anti-Aging, Prevents Free Radical Damage
Green tea is so good for your skin because it can help balance water content in your body and also in your skin. It acts as a diuretic which encourages toxin elimination; however, in excess it may cause dehydration. I drink one cup of water for every cup of green tea to avoid dehydration (dehydrated skin is dull and saggy).
Green tea also is full of an arsenal of antioxidants which provide major anti-aging skin protection. In particular, green tea contains a compound called EGCG which is a catechin, a type of antioxidant that fights cell damage. It also contains an amino acid called L-theanine which provides a calming, relaxing effect.
10. CLEAN, FILTERED WATER
CLEAN FILTERED WATER
Hydrates Skin, Detoxifying
Stay hydrated: I say this to all my patients, especially those who come see me for skin issues. Water is a necessary component of our skin's tissue, and when you don't have enough you become dehydrated. That shows up on your skin as a dull complexion and early wrinkles. Plus, water helps flush toxins out of your body, which reduces cellular damage and naturally detoxifies your skin.
You are what you eat.
Let your food be your medicine.
These two quotes form the backbone of my healing philosophy, whether our goal be beauty and anti-aging effects, or correcting deeper physiological imbalances that manifest in chronic disease.
Basically, be good to yourself. You deserve it.