You Are What You Eat

It’s no secret that skin health starts with your daily habits, including what you eat! What you put into your body shows up on the surface of your skin, and can be a contributing factor in some of the most common inflammatory skin conditions, like acne, rosacea, and even premature aging. 

The good news: we’re here to share some skin-friendly tips and reminders to keep you feeling healthy and radiant. Most importantly, health is about balance. If you incorporate good skin habits into your routine, you can enjoy a cheeseburger and a glass of wine absolutely guilt-free (and we recommend that you do)! 

What Are Skin-Boosting Foods? 

If we look at the research, we can conclude that certain foods are loosely linked to preventing signs of aging and inflammation. While most skin-friendly diet tips feel like a lecture in healthy eating, we’re just here to share what we’ve learned from the experts, and to make it delicious, whenever possible.

ANTIOXIDANTS

Unsurprisingly, the number one recommendation is to boost your intake of antioxidant-rich foods, which seem to have a protective effect on the skin. These include most berries, like blueberries, raspberries and goji berries, as well as dark leafy vegetables like spinach and kale. 

Berries are a healthy and delicious alternative to traditional sweets and desserts. Aside from their irresistible flavor, many types of berries have antioxidants, which can help defend your cells against free radical damage.

Some of the best berries, like blueberries, will include a particular antioxidant called anthocyanin (which is what gives blueberries their blue color). This antioxidant can fight off inflammation and protect your cardiovascular and nervous systems. Anthocyanins have been shown to lower blood pressure, improve visual acuity, reduce cancer cell proliferation, inhibit tumor formation, and prevent diabetes. 

Try one of our favorite antioxidant-rich recipes by dermatologist and Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Courtney Rubin: 

Radiant Skin Smoothie 

  • 5 figs

  • 1/2 cup blueberries

  • 1 plum

  • 1 cup ice

  • 1 cup non-dairy milk 

Wash the produce and cut the stems, as needed. Slice the figs in quarters. Place all ingredients into your blender and pulse for about a minute. Relax and enjoy! 

Antioxidant Supplements 

If you’re looking to boost your antioxidant intake, try adding a dietary supplement to your daily routine. A supplement is a great way to guarantee that you get your daily dose of skin-friendly nutrients, regardless of what you eat that day. 

Two dermatologist-favorite antioxidants to look for in your supplements include Astaxanthin and Polypodium leucotomos

  • Astaxanthin: A powerful carotenoid found in algae that turns krill and flamingos pink when ingested! It is a beauty-from-within antioxidant that supports skin hydration, elasticity and smoothness.

  • Polypodium leucotomos: Derived from a tropical fern that produces polypodium leucotomos to protect its delicate leaves from sun damage. In humans, this antioxidant helps maintain optimal skin defense against harmful free radicals and environmental damage. 

Find both ingredients in the Skin Radiance Complex.

HEALTHY FATS 

Fatty Fish Fatty fish, such as salmon and mackerel, are particularly good choices if you want to cut down the effects of aging. These fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fatty acids that are important for bodily health for a number of reasons, but perhaps most important of all, they're key ingredients in the production of collagen.

Collagen is one of the main compounds that your skin cells need to remain elastic and firm. The more collagen your skin cells have, the younger your skin will look. Unfortunately, our bodies produce less collagen as we get older.

By eating plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, your skin cells will have what they need to produce collagen. Plus, organs throughout your body use omega-3 fatty acids as key molecules for cellular repair and maintenance. Thus, omega-3 fatty acids are important for cardiovascular (and overall) health, too.  Olive Oil Olive oil (specifically the extra-virgin kind) is one of the best healthy fats for your heart. In addition to fat, olive oil includes certain plant compounds such as hydroxytyrosol and oleocanthal, known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can protect your cells from damage. 

Olive oil can often be found in a Mediterranean diet (characterized by a high intake of vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, grains, olive oil, and fish). “Med diets” are considered one of the most recognized diets for disease prevention and healthy aging, partially due to their demonstrated anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties, which may impact telomere length (see more details  below). 

VITAMIN-RICH FOODS

Peppers

Peppers are chock-full of vitamin C, one of the most important vitamins for overall bodily health.

Vitamin C is important specifically because it is an effective antioxidant. Antioxidants like vitamin C can fight off free radical damage, which can take a toll on your cell health. Furthermore, vitamin C bolsters your immune system and helps with the healing process of wounds and abrasions.

Try this recipe for a delicious skin-friendly boost: 

Warm Purple Pepper Salad 

  • 2 strips thick-cut bacon, cut into small cubes (Optional) 

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • Purple potatoes, quartered

  • 1 eggplant, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise

  • 2 purple bell peppers, seeded and thickly sliced

  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

  • Chopped basil (if desired) 

In a deep skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat, stirring until lightly golden (optional step). Add the olive oil, purple potatoes, eggplant, peppers and onion. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 12-15 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and basil to garnish, then serve warm. 

Almonds 

Almonds are both a great snack and have lots of vitamin E, another key antioxidant that can defend your cells from certain types of damage.

Tea 

Tea can be filled with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, depending on the blend. Even better, green and black tea contain caffeine, so they can serve as good replacements for coffee.

PROBIOTICS

Yogurt 

Fermented dairy products like yogurt are full of healthy bacteria called probiotics. Probiotics can help nurture a healthy and supportive digestive system and gut microbiome. Plus, yogurt has plenty of calcium, which can help your bones stay strong even into old age.

Moreover, recent reports have shown prior “full-fat dairy fears” to be unfounded, and in fact, whole-fat dairy often contains the highest content of rich-sourced nutrients. While it has saturated fat with bad cholesterol, it also provides good cholesterol, which can offset the negative effects of LDL to be more beneficial than skim milk. 

Just make sure your yogurt isn’t also loaded with artificial flavoring and tons of sugar, which are counterproductive.

Still curious about your diet’s effect on skin aging? Read on for more details. 

AGING, EXPLAINED

We all age from the moment we are born, but aging is a relatively complex process. At its core, our cells become "older" as their ability to perfectly replicate, i.e. to turn into other cells, diminishes with time. 

Each cell in our bodies has DNA, and at the end of every DNA strand is a telomere. Your telomeres are sections of DNA strands that tell the cell when to replicate. They also ensure that DNA is copied as accurately as possible.

As we get older, our cells' telomeres become shorter. This rapidly accelerates how many cells mutate and die, lowering our body's ability to regenerate from injury or to replace old cells with new, healthy ones.

The telomere-shortening effect can be exacerbated by any number of exterior factors or environmental conditions. Anything that lowers the health of your cells can also damage their DNA and lead to long-term or even permanent replication issues.

For instance, research indicates stress can sometimes accelerate the aging process. This is likely because stress causes certain hormones to flood your bloodstream, causing short-term damage to many tissues. This damage can compound with time and eventually become long-term damage.

Can You Defy Aging? 

While science essentially understands how aging works, it still hasn't come up with a way for us to ignore aging outright. The clock still ticks for each of us.

Telomere length shortens with age, which can lead to substantial health issues. As chromosomes lose their telomeres throughout time, this can affect the skin's aging process. You can fight back against this process, at least to some extent.There are a number of habits you can implement to support the health of your cells and their telomeres.

If you can lower the likelihood of your telomeres shortening, your cells will replicate more healthily over the long-term. Similarly, if you avoid environmental or exterior factors from affecting your body negatively, your cells will stay healthy for longer.

In general, defying aging means focusing on a few key areas:

  • Lowering your stress levels

  • Remaining active and fit

  • Eating a healthy diet

These pillars combined will give you the best chance of resisting some aging side effects over the long-term. 

Can Aging Be Reversed Naturally?  

There isn’t really such a thing as reversing aging. Remember, we cannot totally halt the aging process. But, you may undertake some habits to slow down your cells' telomere degradation.

Do Older Adults Need to Change Their Food Habits? 

You may change your food habits, but “need” is a strong word. It's never too late to start eating healthily and giving your cells more vital nutrients and vitamins. Doing so may have an immediate effect on your telomeres and their length across your body.

Other Tips for Aging Gracefully

Alongside eating all of the above foods, you can try additional strategies to fight back against the aging process:

  • Always drink plenty of water. Many of us are perpetually dehydrated, and this can have a long-term negative effect on your bodily health. Keep water in arm’s reach everyday so you’re more likely to hydrate through the day.

  • Try to sleep at least seven to eight hours every night. Your body requires that much rest to both regenerate from daily wear and tear and to organize your memories. Failing to get enough sleep can rapidly lead to serious health issues and greater stress levels.

Sources 

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3370421/
  2. https://www.livescience.com/collagen.html https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcids-Consumer/  
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7400286/  
  4. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/expert-answers/healthy-skin/faq-20058184  
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3370421/  
  6. https://academic.oup.com/biomedgerontology/article/73/1/39/3828300  
  7. https://www.healthline.com/health-news/full-fat-dairy-better-for-you-than-skim#Dont-go-overboard   
  8. https://www.bmj.com/content/349/bmj.g6674  
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2695180/