I have just returned from a glorious vacation in the Cayman Islands to witness one of my best friend’s wedding! Besides cool comfortable clothes, sunglasses and a hat, skin protection was certainly top of mind. So much that I wanted to share these cool “FOOD AS MEDICINE” tips from my friends at Natural Health Advisory!
As I am about to enter my 5th decade, I am aware that wrinkles are the most dreaded sign of aging skin, but they are not inevitable. The skin damage that leads to their development is caused by two factors: UV radiation from the sun, and diminished cellular production of the proteins collagen and elastin.
The sun emits many different frequencies of radiation that can ionize molecules and contribute to the development of free radicals. This causes DNA damage and cell death that can eventually lead to diseased or unhealthy skin. Clothing does typically not cover the face and hands, so the sun’s rays often affect them the most. Compounding the danger of sun exposure, nutrient and water deficiency can lead to decreased collagen and elastin production. These two proteins help connect cells to each other. When they are deficient, skin tissue becomes loose and inelastic, and wrinkles develop.
Prevent wrinkles and skin damage naturally
Preventing skin damage before it leads to wrinkles is always the best strategy, and counteracting UV radiation is the first step. Surprisingly, using sunscreen, lotion, or moisturizer may actually be a harmful method of doing so. Moisturizers and sunscreens treat symptoms; they do not cure problems. A much healthier option is to increase your intake of vitamins and foods that prevent wrinkles.
Top foods that prevent wrinkles
Many foods contain powerful skin-protective nutrients. Incorporating a variety of these into the diet is the most beneficial. The following have been shown to contain wrinkle-reducing compounds:
- chaga mushrooms
- goji berries
- sweet potatoes
- yellow bell peppers
- mustard greens
- rice bran
Naturally reduce the appearance of existing wrinkles
Once antioxidants are abundant enough to protect cells from free-radical damage, the second step is to rebuild the collagen and elastin fibers that hold skin cells together. The most important vitamin for this is vitamin A. According to a 2007 study at the University of Michigan, topical vitamin A (retinol) significantly increases collagen production—even in cells that are already damaged by the sun.
The most important minerals for collagen production are copper, iron, and manganese. Another study found that vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) and vitamin C cause a systemic increase of these metals in the body In this study, this increase led to enhanced wound repair and collagen production.
Where to naturally find what you need
All of these nutrients can be found in some very common foods. For example:
- Vitamin B5 is best found in mushrooms and cheese, and has many benefits in addition to skin repair.
- Vitamin A is found abundantly in sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, and squash.
- Vitamin C comes from yellow bell peppers, kale, and broccoli.
- Vitamin E can be found in spinach, mustard greens, and kale.
- Ferulic acid is present in large quantities in tomatoes and rice bran.
It is best to incorporate all of these nutrients into the diet by eating a variety of the featured foods that prevent wrinkles, and by adding pure supplements as needed. Be cautious of using lotions and creams that may also have harsh ingredients that lead to allergies and side effects.
The skin is the outward manifestation of overall health. A few common foods can greatly benefit both.