A healthy, glowing complexion says a lot about your dietary habits. Food is fuel and medicine! Our bodies function best when we provide them with healthy, balanced, nutritious food.  Many of us are conscious about our waistlines, but a healthy skin diet is also hugely important when it comes to getting gorgeous, healthy, glowing skin.

Next in our series of How to Maximize of your Aesthetic Treatments, talk about what we eat and drink and how that affects our skin.

A healthy, glowing complexion says a lot about your dietary habits. Food is fuel and medicine! Our bodies function best when we provide them with healthy, balanced, nutritious food.  Many of us are conscious about our waistlines, but a healthy skin diet is also hugely important when it comes to getting gorgeous, healthy, glowing skin.

Dr. Lori recommends a predominantly whole food, plant-based diet.  With plant-based products you are getting an extremely dense nutrient profile with more vitamins, minerals, and healthy nutrients per bite. Our skin needs antioxidant-rich foods rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E to stay healthy.  These antioxidants and vitamins fight free radical formation which is extremely damaging not only to your entire body, but also to your skin!

A healthy diet can also help you fight against UV radiation damage to your skin. Exposure to UV rays promotes the formation of free radicals which can cause damage to components of our skin that gives it its structure and firmness such as elastin and collagen. Over a period of time, this can result in more prominent fine lines and wrinkles and sagging skin!

A diet rich in antioxidant fruits and vegetables and Omega-3 Fatty Acids can help fight those free radicals that are literally eating your collagen!

Key Foods to eat:

  • Fish is a great source of protein, which is essential for collagen and elastin production. Certain fish like salmon are also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids which can help regulate the skin’s oil production, improve balanced hydration, subdue breakouts and minimize signs of aging. Omega-3s can also help soften rough, dry skin and have a soothing effect on irritation and dermatitis.
  • Avocados are also a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Richly colored orange or red fruit and vegetables get much of their color from compounds called carotenoids, some of which can be converted into Vitamin A, which is essential for skin cell reproduction. They are also a great source of Vitamin C, which is essential for manufacturing collagen. Both carotenoids and Vitamin C are antioxidants, helping to fight free radicals which may cause damage to our skin and cause premature signs of aging.
  • Chocolate is rich in vitamins A, B1, C, D and E, plus iron and calcium, chocolate nourishes your skin from the inside out by defending against damage from harmful UV rays thanks to its antioxidant flavonoids. The higher the percentage of cacao the better because sugar causes free radical formation!
  • Red Wines contain resveratrol, which acts as an antioxidant for the tissues and skin and helps rid the body of harmful free radicals.
  • Nuts and Seeds are a powerful source of Omega-3 as well as selenium, zinc, vitamin E, and protein to help fight inflammation and feed collagen.

Here are some of my favorite ways to get more vegetables into my day. Maybe they’ll work for you, too.

  • Add veggies to fruit smoothies- Try baby greens or microgreens as they have a milder flavor than more mature greens and pack a nutrient punch! Also try adding other veggies like carrots, winter squash, beets, or pumpkin.  Be creative!  The more variety the better!
  • Have fruits and vegetables at breakfast-Most of us associate fruits or fruit juices with breakfast, but there are plenty of opportunities to work some veggies into your first meal of the day. You can add vegetables to your omelet in the morning or top your eggs with some tomato salsa and avocado.  Instead of topping your low-fat cottage cheese with fruit, try it with diced vegetables instead. And if you’ve never had savory oatmeal in the morning, you might want to give it a try.  Another favorite of mine is Chia Seed Pudding!
  • Use as toppings for fish, poultry, meat, or tofu-In addition to having vegetables as a side dish for dinner, you can also make a quick salsa or stir-fry some flavorful vegetables and use as a topping for grilled fish or chicken.  Try making some sauces using flax seeds as a base!  The possibilities are endless!
  • Add to one-dish mealsOne dish meals like hearty soups, stews and casseroles provide plenty of opportunities for sneaking more veggies into your meals. Try adding different chopped veggies to your favorite recipes for foods like meat loaf, pasta sauce and casseroles. You may be surprised how much you can add, and you might like your ‘veggie-heavy’ version even better than the original.
  • Use for snacksVegetables are naturals for snacks. Raw broccoli or cauliflower florets, carrots, celery or jicama dipped in some salsa, plain yogurt or hummus can help satisfy your craving for something crunchy, and keep you away from salty, greasy chips. If you’re at a Mexican restaurant, ask for raw veggies to dip into your salsa or guacamole instead of chips!
  • Have a main dish salad for a meal-If your dinners are the typical protein, starch, and veggie, you may get only a single serving vegetable at your meal. Boost your veggie intake by making a main dish salad instead. Start by loading up your salad bowl with a variety of leafy greens and an array of fresh vegetables. I love to add some grilled or roasted vegetables to the top for additional texture. Toss with olive oil and top with some protein, and you’ll be getting several servings of vegetables in one bowl.
  • Add to grain dishesWhole grains get a flavor boost when they’re cooked with some vegetables!
  • Double upOne of the simplest ways to eat more vegetables is to simply double your portion when you’re at home.  Some vegetables can do “double duty” as both starch and vegetable. You can pulse raw cauliflower in the food processor and stir-fry it into “cauliflower rice.” Or, cook veggies along with your potatoes before mashing (try broccoli, carrots or turnips for this) to reduce starch and calories, and boost your veggie intake all at the same time.

Key foods to avoid:

A diet which consists of highly processed food, ready meals and refined carbohydrates can over time cause inflammation in the body and not only aggravate skin problems such as acne but also cause wrinkles, dull complexion, and age spots.

  1. Refined sugar and processed foods- These include sweets, white breads, pastries, sodas, most fast food, and even breakfast cereals.
  2. Alcohol- the body metabolizes alcohol from an enzyme in the liver, which releases a byproduct called acetaldehyde. This byproduct is toxic to body tissues causing dehydration, which leads to wrinkles and acne breakouts. Alcohol also causes inflammation by releasing histamine that dilates capillaries, causing redness of the skin and contributing to rosacea. When compounded over several years, this redness can be permanent.
  3. Animal products and dairy– These are common causes of inflammation; so by cutting them out of your diet you’re immediately making an improvement in your life that will positively affect your skin and overall health.

Drink Enough!

In order for nutrients to move in and waste to move out, your skin cells (and all cells in your body) rely on fluid. Water is king and green tea is queen since it provides not only fluid but antioxidants.

Most people, depending upon your age, gender, and activity level, need 8–12 cups of fluid a day, about 2–3 liters. (Beverages containing caffeine or alcohol don’t count because they actually contribute to dehydration). When the weather is hot, your body relies on these fluids to help remove waste products from the skin so if you don’t have enough hydration, your skin cells will actually dehydrate.

Most people know what dry skin looks like, but did you know that there’s a difference between dry skin and dehydrated skin?  Some of the signs of dehydrated skin are dull, sallow appearance, tightness, burning, sensitivity, irritated, rough, flaky texture, and unfortunately, fine lines and wrinkles will become more noticeable.

So by consistently consuming foods rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory mediators to fight free radicals, it is possible to stop wrinkles in their tracks and have natural, glowing skin for years to come!

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