The secret to gorgeous skin may be as simple as tweaking your diet and making some lifestyle changes, writes Beauty Director Kate Mohan.
Healthy eating choices
Oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruit are brimming with vitamin C, which works to preserve collagen in the skin and boost the immune system. Papaya is also a potent source of vitamin C, plus vitamin A, and is wonderful for skin repair. It can even be applied to wounds for fast healing. An apple a day keeps the doctor away and it has skin healing properties. Apples also contain vitamins A and C, which help nourish, moisten and soften the skin.
Green tea contains high levels of flavonoids, which are chemicals present in plants that help
to produce colour in fruits and petals. Having strong anti-oxidant properties, they are wonderful for skin health. Green tea also contains EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), one of the most powerful anti-oxidant flavanoids known. For those with skin conditions such as acne, green tea’s antibacterial properties may be helpful. Green tea also helps to reduce inflammation and aids in detoxification, which is good
news for acne sufferers. A cup of green tea contains about 150mg of flavonoids and the anti-oxidant activity is said to be equivalent to that of two apples.
Beans and lentils
Dry beans such as kidney, black, navy and chickpeas are a good source of folic
acid, which protects against heart disease by breaking down an amino acid called homocysteine. They also contain folate, which plays an important role in healthy cell division and is crucial to the repair of damaged cells. Beans and lentils have the potent anti-inflammatory anti-oxidants – flavonoids and flavonals – found in tea, fruit, grapes, red wine and cocoa beans. In particular, the reddish flavonal pigments in the coats of beans and lentils exert an anti-oxidant activity 50 times greater than vitamin E, protect against oxidative damage
to cell membrane lipids, promote healthy collagen and cartilage.
Loaded with carotenoids, or beta carotene, carrots strengthen the body’s immune system and can protect against some forms of cancer. Drinking carrot juice regularly can help reduce skin discolorations.
With their high protein content, eggs are good for tissue repair and skin cell growth.
Foods such as tofu, soy beans, soy and linseed bread, and soy drinks are high in amino acids, which help work on degenerated skin tissue fibres. Soy acts in a similar way to the hormone oestrogen and, as such, is beneficial in keeping skin supple, elastic and hydrated. Dryness and thinning of skin are problems associated with skin suffering from the loss of oestrogen which occurs with menopause.
Nuts and raw seeds
Nuts such as almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts and seeds such as sesame and pumpkin are rich in vitamin E, which helps fight wrinkles and sagging.
Dark green leafy vegetables
Vegetables such as spinach and cabbage contain high levels of iron, which work on dark circles under the eyes, beta carotene to destroy free radicals and vitamin C to support the skin’s collagen network.
Rich in complex carbohydrates, whole grains boost the body’s elimination processes. A sluggish system
is reflected in your skin, which can look tired. Whole grains increase the skin’s ability to detoxify and encourages a fresh and radiant complexion.
Good lifestyle choices
For the maximum beauty benefits, healthy eating choices should be accompanied by lifestyle changes that give your skin the best chance to glow.
Get moving and you’ll see a natural glow, thanks to increased blood flow to the skin. Vigorous exercise is one of the best ways to generate heat in the body and assist poor circulation by redirecting blood back to your skin and extremities.
Drink more water
Aim to drink eight glasses of water each day to keep skin hydrated, moist and plumped. Remember, if you exercise and perspire, you should drink more than the eight glasses for optimum results.
Get more fibre
A sluggish metabolism can lead to lacklustre skin, so it’s important to be consistent with your fibre intake to ensure a digestive and elimination system that functions well.According to dietitian Zoe Nicholson,
women need to consume 30g of dietary fibre each day, yet the average Australian consumes only 18 grams to 25 grams a day. "Better digestive health leads to better functioning of the body, which may be reflected in the skin," she says. "Consuming more fruit and vegetables, which contain dietary fibre, can be of great benefit to the skin."
A good night's sleep can benefit your skin. During this resting phase, your body secretes specific skin growth factors along with human growth hormones. These hormones speed up the production of collagen, the protein responsible for the elasticity and support of skin tissue.
If there’s only one thing you do for your skin, make sure you wear sunscreen and not just when you’re at the beach, pool or outdoors in summer. It’s essential to get in the habit of wearing a sunscreen every day – at least on your face and exposed body parts, such as the neck or décolletage.
Take care with...
It’s important that you avoid sugary foods, as sugar
is known to cause damage to the skin When blood sugar goes up rapidly, sugar
can attach itself to collagen in a process called "glycation", making the skin stiff
and inflexible. Losing this elastic resilience of young skin will give you deep wrinkles and make you look old.
Minimise your intake of high-fat foods and avoid saturated
animal fats. That said, it’s important to boost essential fatty acids (EFAs), such
as those with Omega 3s – found in oily fish, vegetable oils, soya beans, flax and
rapeseed oil – and Omega 6, found in seeds, sunflower, safflower and sesame
oil. A deficiency in these EFAs can lead to dry skin and dull hair.
Coffee is a mild diuretic,
so when drunk in large quantities, it can dehydrate the skin. It can also interfere with a good night’s sleep, which is essential to healthy skin. Two to three cups of coffee a day should be the maximum.
A smoker’s skin often looks grey, fatigued and lifeless. They
also eventually get "smokers’ lines" around their lips. Smoking affects the
circulation and, as a result, your skin gets less nourishment than it needs.
That’s why most smokers never have skin with a rosy, healthy glow.
Smoking allows carbon monoxide to replace the oxygen in the blood and also
narrows the blood vessels. This results in decreased oxygen flow to new skin cells, causing premature wrinkling.
Keep consumption to a minimum because an excess of booze
dehydrates the skin and disturbs the neurotransmitters that help us fall asleep
and stay that way, which is why you get disturbed sleep when you’ve drunk
too much. This plays havoc with the skin the next day.
This is one of the key factors that contributes to ageing. The mind and
skin are linked on many levels and, as many nerve endings are connected to
the skin, so emotions can play out on its surface. Anxious people may fall victim
to pimple or acne breakouts and severely stressed people may notice rashes and
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