Sunday, May 22, 2011

Eat your way to younger-looking skin

Eat your way to younger-looking skin

Oxidative stress and inflammation are major causes of skin ageing, said Dr Patana Teng-umnuay at a seminar at last year's Aesthetics Asia conference. Sun exposure is also another major cause of skin ageing, as it causes photo-ageing, DNA damage and genetic mutations.

Yet, while there are products aplenty which you can apply on your skin to protect it, there is a simpler way to prevent premature skin ageing - starting with what you put in your mouth.

Paula Begoun, the beauty guru who authored the best-selling Don't Go to the Cosmetic Counter Without Me, recently recommended a variety of anti-ageing superfoods in her e-mail bulletin. Here are her recommendations:

1. Berries

Berries are full of anti-oxidants and can protect our skin from free radicals that contribute to the appearance of ageing.

Choose darker berries if you can as they are known to have high concentrations of antioxidants. Such berries include blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, raspberries, acai and strawberries. Acai berries are said to have the highest amount of antioxidants among fruits.

Fresh berries are best, says Ms Beguon.

2. Salmon

This fish is loaded with omega-3 essential fatty acids and antioxidants. These nutrients can reduce sun damage, reduce inflammation that leads to collagen breakdown, and help skin look young, plump and radiant, says Ms Beguon's bulletin.

Given the benefits of this fish, Allure Magazine Assiant Editor Jennifer Kass went as far as to recommend readers to, "skip the facial and eat fish two to three times a week".

Can't take fish? There are other alternatives, such as avocados, flaxseed and walnuts which are sources of potent essential fatty acids. Or you could consider omega-3 fish oil supplements, though you should check with your doctor first.

3. Leafy Greens, Fruits & Sweet Potatoes

Your parents and grandparents have constantly nagged at you to eat more fruits and vegetables 'because they are good for your health'. What they might not have realised is that these same foods are good for your skin as well.

Leafy greens, fruits and sweet potatoes are rich in beta carotene and they can slow the damage caused by sun exposure, says Ms Beguon.

Allure magazine's Ms Kass recommends green and orange foods, such as spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes and citrus. These humble, everyday foods contain vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant which facilitates cell turnover and aids collagen production.

In addition, carrots contain vitamin A, which, when combined with vitamin C, helps increase the skin's natural sun protection and help prevent breakouts.

4. Spices

Spices have amazing benefits for our skin, including fighting sun damage and preventing wrinkles, says Ms Begoun.

Tumeric, dubbed the "ultimate antiageing spice", is one of the spices to look out for, thanks to one of its components, curcumin. Besides slowing down the signs of ageing, tumeric can also help prevent colon and other cancers, treat arthritis, and may be useful in preventing dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

Also, according to Dr. Eric Braverman in an article published in the The Huffington Post, the trick to ensuring that you are getting more nutrients in every meal is to choose foods loaded with spices, such as those in the Indian and Thai cuisine.

You will be literally "upgrading" your food without adding a single calorie, he declares.
5. Green Tea

Green tea has antioxidant, collagen-protecting, and anti-inflammatory properties, making it an anti-aging superstar, writes Ms Begoun.

An article in iVillage also vouches for this, reporting that green tea has even more antioxidant properties than powerful vitamins A, C and E.

However, make sure that you consumer real, natural green tea and not the canned version, which tends to be packed with sugar, says Men's Health magazine.

Foods to avoid

In Ms Begoun's bulletin, she also cautions readers about the following foods, which will only speed up the ageing process:

1. Sugar

A diet high in sugar triggers an age-accelerating process known as glycation, says Ms Begoun.This results in the breakdown of collagen and the loss of skin elasticity - increasing the likelihood of skin wrinkling and sagging.

Sugar is so detrimental to our skin that dermatologist Dr Fredric Brandt, in an article published in TheMedGuru, says that removing sweet treats from your diet can make you look ten years younger.

2. Salty Foods

Beware of too much salt, which can cause in bloating, puffiness, and tired-looking skin, says Ms Begoun.

She advises using sea salt instead of table salt - the former has more minerals and is more flavourful, meaning that one would use less of it.

Also, drink more water so as to help flush excess salt from your body.