The image conscious among us face a never ending battle against the ravages of age. With every passing year the fine lines and wrinkles seem to add up and before we know it we’re looking into the mirror and seeing a stranger staring back at us.
Growing old gracefully is often used as a euphemism for admitting defeat, but if aging with grace is simply a matter of looking after yourself and focusing on our overall health then growing old gracefully might just be your best defence against the signs of aging.
There are many ways to look and feel younger, but very often it’s as much a matter of what we put into our bodies as what we lather over our skin.
We’re going to look at some foods which are known to have anti-aging properties that can supplement your cosmetic regime and enhance its effectiveness. After all, no amount of exercise will reverse the effects of a bad diet, so why should we expect any more from the creams, lotions and ointments that we use on our skin? While we’ll look at some factors that are important to getting and maintaining healthy skin, and the foods that will allow you to do this, it’s important to get to know the factors that contribute to aging skin…
What causes skin to age?
Dermatologists will tell you that there are two kinds of factors when it comes to skin aging, intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic or chronologic aging is the natural degradation of elastin and collagen in our skin as we get older, causing our skin to lose its elasticity and fullness. While this is natural and inevitable, there are lifestyle choices (extrinsic factors) that many of us make that accelerates the aging of our skin that must be avoided. These include:
- Sunbathing and use of tanning booths
- Drinking alcohol
- Not washing perspiration off our faces
- Using perfumes or scented lotion that irritate the skin.
- Lack of exercise
- And of course… Poor diet
The above factors can dry or irritate the skin, causing it to become sunken and sallow prematurely. However many all singing, all dancing beauty products you buy, if you’re guilty of the above then you’ll always be playing catch-up! While this article is focused primarily on diet, it’s important to note that regular cardiovascular exercise is important to create the healthy circulation and blood flow that are vital in getting anti-aging nutrients to your skin.
Retinol- The Holy Grail of skincare
While most factors that influence skin health can be improved by diet, it’s important to mention retinol. Retinol is a weaker version of tretinoin, a derivative of vitamin A that is extremely effective in reversing the extrinsic signs of aging (such as sun damage).
Retinol decreases fine lines, evens skin tone,tightens pores, improves texture, and stimulates blood flow to the skin and enhances its collagen production. While it can be found in vitamin A rich foods such as red meat, offal, eggs and dairy products, you’d have to eat a lot to get the required amounts (and it may not be worth the bowel obstruction. Instead, click here to discover which retinol cream is best for you and your skin.
Eating your way to younger looking skin
Younger looking skin is easy to attain from the inside so long as we avoid alcohol and processed fatty, salty foods. Broadly speaking, you should aim for foods that will support collagen production and increase circulation to the skin to give it that elusive healthy glow.
Omega 3 fatty acids- These will help your skin to retain moisture, keeping it full and firm. Most people associate them with fish and eggs but they’re also abundant in nuts and seeds. Pumpkin seeds are also rich in zinc which increases immune function and is also useful for those prone to outbreaks of spots or acne.
Chlorophyll- Don’t worry, chlorophyll may give leafy veggies their rich, vivid color but it won’t make your skin green. Instead, it’ll increase oxygenation giving your skin a healthy glow and improve circulation to ensure that your skin gets the nutrients it needs to stay healthy and firm.
Beta-Carotene- Like retinol, beta-carotene is related to vitamin A. In fact, your body actually converts it into vitamin A, which encourages healthy skin cell production. Beta carotene also destroys the free radicals which can damage skin cells. It’s found abundantly in tasty root vegetables like yams and carrots.
Antioxidants- Antioxidants also protect against free radicals which can be triggered by sun damage. They are found in berries and leafy veggies, but the powerful antioxidant lycopene is also found in tomatoes.