21 May 4 Diet Tips For Skin Protection
With the first warm sunny days, we are naturally drawn to spend more time outdoors. However, this time when you start planning a picnic or a day trip (or two), what is the first thing to remember not to forget? Sunscreen.
If you head outdoors without sunscreen, you are risking a sunburn, a skin infection or, unfortunately, skin cancer, in the long-term. The sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays accelerate skin aging, resulting in wrinkles, spots, discoloration and decreased elasticity.
While wrinkles, spots, and especially skin discoloration are the biggest beauty concerns for some women, they are also the signs of harmful effects of the sun. Although genetics (largely)determine the signs of aging, environment and lifestyle choices considerably accelerate the process.
However, our skin is constantly changing. Given it’s the organ that performs important functions in the body such as protecting our bones, muscles, internal organs, and regulating our body heat, we are responsible for finding the best ways to acquire protection.
This brings us back to the second most important thing related to skin protection: a healthy nutrition. Our skin is the outside part of the body, and when sunscreen doesn’t cut it, a balanced diet is a natural remedy for healthy and vibrant skin. In short, a healthy diet is an additional support for skin’s defense system.
What is damaging our skin?
The answer is oxidation. As skin aging is a natural process, so is oxidation. The death and birth of cells in the organism happen 24 hours a day. However, the problem lies in damaged cells that turn into harmful free radicals.
In a chemical process, in which unstable molecules (free radicals) steals electrons from healthy cells, free radicals damage the DNA, creating a fruitful ground for diseases. Moreover, damaged cells grow abnormally and reproduce quickly.
FYI: Air pollution, cigarette smoke, pesticides, alcohol, ultraviolet rays, and toxins generate free radicals.
Neutralizing free radicals is the main reason our bodies need a healthy diet.
The connection between what we eat and how we look is already scientifically proven, accordingly, certain foods impact skin’s natural ability to protect and defend itself against damaging rays, infections, bacteria, viruses and other skin diseases.
A healthy diet, rich in skin protective antioxidants, carotenoids and essential nutrients, is a great strategy to boost skin’s defense system. If you wish to keep your skin well protected, and to prolong its youthful appearance, now is the best time to start including delicious fruits and vegetables into your diet.
What should you focus on?
The answer is very simple: focus on the foods that contain essential nutrients, which are known to promote and accelerate the production of certain skin-protective proteins and compounds and aid in fighting free radicals.
1. Stock up on foods rich in vitamins C and E
Why? The most important benefit of Vitamin C is its ability to empower skin’s natural defense system by protecting cells from damage caused by free radicals. Moreover, vitamin C is involved in the production of collagen, the most abundant protein in the body that keeps the skin firm.
Yellow bell peppers are the highest in vitamin C, then guavas, kale, kiwi, broccoli, berries, citrus fruits and cooked tomato.
Vitamin E is responsible for protecting cell membranes, especially important for protecting your skin against ultraviolet rays. The benefits of these vitamins come from their powerful antioxidant properties. When applied topically, vitamin E can effectively reduce skin roughness and the depth of wrinkles.
The richest source of vitamin E is spinach, then almonds, sunflower seeds, avocados, olive oil, cooked broccoli, and squash and pumpkin.
2. Consume plenty of carotenoids-rich food
Although there are more than 600 different carotenoids, in our diets the most common are beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin. As vitamins C and E, carotenoids protect the skin by neutralizing the harmful effects of free radicals. Beta-carotene, converted in the body into vitamin A, an important antioxidant, is essential for the growth and repair of the body tissue.
We know carotenoids are pigments, which means your grocery list should include orange, red, yellow and green fruits and vegetables.
Tomato and tomato products are rich source of lycopene, an antioxidant that has been proven to protect the skin from UV radiation. Five tablespoons of tomato paste with a few drops of olive oil a day increase the protection against sunburn by 33 percent, according to researchers.
Carrots help prevent Sun damage due to carotenoids. Studies have showed that carrots also slow down the photo aging of the skin (a gradual process of skin deterioration) and protect and repair skin cells.
Read about The Health Benefits of Juicing Carrots
Other great sources of carotenoids are red bell peppers, pumpkin, sweet potato, cantaloupe and mango.
3. Don’t forget the food rich in selenium
Trace element selenium is crucial for the production of special proteins called antioxidant enzymes that are enhancing body’s defense. Selenium is reported to boost the effectiveness of vitamin E, playing an important role in the protection against sun’s damaging rays.
The best sources for selenium are Brazil nuts, oysters, tuna, whole-wheat bread, sunflower seeds and chicken and turkey.
4. Include omega-3 fatty acids in your diet
First, omega-3 fatty acids have powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Second, according to researchers, they have similar protective benefits to antioxidants, helping to protect cell membranes, allowing nutrients in and toxins out.
Good sources of omega-3s are walnuts, soybeans, flaxseed, salmon, sardines, and herring. Flaxseed oils, for instance, have the highest levels of omega-3s (12059 mg per 200 calorie serving).
Green tea is packed with protective antioxidants (polyphenols) that help prevent the development of skin cancer. One study showed that green tea, when applied to the skin, protects against sunburn and different skin diseases.
Dark chocolate contains amazing antioxidants, flavonoids, compounds shown to protect against sun damage, and certain types of cancers and skin problems.
Why should you follow these tips?
Healthy nutrition is crucial for us, both physically and mentally, and you need to make sure to stock up on these healthy foods the next time you go grocery shopping. If you follow these simple diet tips, you will not only improve skin’s natural defense mechanism, but your overall health.
However, when it comes to protecting your skin from damaging sun’s rays and other pollution, you should always use sunscreen with an appropriate SPF.