Skinfood: Food to help keep skin healthy
PUBLISHED: 12:40 21 June 2016 | UPDATED: 12:40 21 June 2016
The science behind cosmetic skin care is a precarious one. Claims behind many topical products often seem too good to be true and we end up spending a great deal of money on so-called 'elixirs of youth' that remain half used on our bathroom shelves when the next big thing comes along
But one thing that is rarely disputed is the nutritional value of what we put on the inside to wage war on skin degradation. The first thing to consider is quality. Organic, seasonal foods are by far the most nutrient dense and as such, you will maximise the benefits with less bulk. The second is to go back with us a few issues and re-read our feature on the aging effects of sugar. In short, cut it out, there are no good sides to it and it is a skin-killer.
So now we can get onto some of the foods (there are so many we’ve had to pick just a handful) that can be of real benefit to skin health. It is hard to talk about our health – skin or otherwise – without extolling the virtues of leafy greens. Last month we praised our greens for their coenzyme Q10 content (a label regularly used in anti-aging products) and this month it’s no different. Leaves such as spinach, kale, sorrel and chard contain a folate that may help repair and maintain DNA, essentially this means they help cells’ in their fight to renew themselves.
Then we have vitamin C whose attributes are mainly linked with warding off colds and bugs. But it is also a winner when it comes to our skin as vitamin C is essential for collagen production. Collagen production decreases with age so anything we can do to stimulate this process will go a long way to keeping those wrinkles under wraps. Orange is the way to go in our search for vitamin C; carrots are also a good source so get chomping on those crudités.
Speaking of colour, consider gorgeous, aromatic, ripe red tomatoes. What could be better especially with a scattering of basil leaves and a drizzle of olive oil? Not only are they tasty but that vibrant colour is the result of a phytochemical called lycopene which helps blitz those skin-aging free radicals caused by ultra violet light. Think of them as a little dose of sunscreen from within…but don’t forget the extra protection on the outside too.
We could go on and on about all kinds of veg but let’s also add some protein. Tuna - yes even the canned variety - contains a very worthy little hit of selenium, a nutrient that helps to preserve our skin’s elastin (the protein responsible for keeping skin smooth and tight). And like those lovely tomatoes it is also believed to be effective in stopping free radicals (created by UV exposure) from damaging cells. Consider Brazil nuts too, these are also selenium rich but watch out for calorie content if you are trying to shed the pounds.
If all of this virtuous food is making you reach for the biscuit tin just stop yourself for a moment and go for the chocolate instead. It does, however need to be dark to get any kind of goodness from those flavenols. Just a few ounces are needed per day (sorry, not the whole bar) for a little kick of these antioxidants (also found in dark berries) that improve skin texture. Don’t say we never give you any treats!