Most of us have grown up in an era where our elders would tell us, “You are what you eat.” I never did believe it back as a child, but it turns out that all those Sugar Daddy and Eskimo Pies I used to get with my allowance at the five and dime weren’t the best choices. Back then though, I was constantly running, jumping or climbing over something…so at least all that sugar was put to good use.
Now that I’m in my early 40’s, it seems like even looking at a bowl of ice cream makes me gain three pounds. That’s a story for another time though. For now, let’s talk about how our diet can radically boost or weaken our efforts to retain our natural beauty.
Why Do Some Women Age Faster than Others?
For instance, have you ever noticed that many Asian women tend to have soft, beautiful skin well into their 50’s and 60’s? If you’re curious about their secret, look no further than the typical Asian diet.
As a culture they eat lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, while typically avoiding red meats and other fatty foods. Fish is also a staple within their diets as well, which comes packed with concentrated doses of omega-3 fatty acids to promote natural skin rejuvenation. I’ll get a little more into how each of these food groups can keep your skin looking young a little later.
First, I want to tackle one of the biggest myths in the health industry…and you’re probably not going to like this one bit. In fact, it made me pretty angry when I discovered this little nugget of information almost ten years ago, and I have this discussion with my clients almost every single day of my life. Are you ready for it?
A large amount of the “health foods” on the market today are absolutely terrible for your skin.
Which Foods Should Always Be Avoided?
Take milk for example. We saw those commercials for almost twenty years about how it does a body good, but it turns out that the growth hormones in milk cause inflammation, cause insulin spikes in our body and drastically increases oil production (and not the good kind). Another shocker- skim milk is worse for skincare than the whole variety.
You’ve also probably heard that lots of fiber is a key to sexy, supple skin. That statement is 100% true- except when that fiber is accompanied by sugar. And manufacturers these days love to add large amounts of sugar to everything up and down the grocery aisle; from juices and yogurt to frozen vegetables to any of those “heat and serve” meals we love to pop in the oven on a hectic night.
Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a bowl of Frosted Flakes for breakfast and then grab a Yoplait for an afternoon snack on occasion, but it would be a very good idea to resist those temptations whenever possible. Now only does sugar cause numerous forms of breakouts, but it is also directly tied to destroying collagen and elastin in our skin.
You know, the proteins that keep us looking young…
It’s also a good idea to try and avoid potato chips (refined carbs that boost inflammation), any type of fast food (saturated fat and GI causes acne), and margarine (butter is a much healthier alternative for avoiding wrinkles). And if you do have to have your glass of milk every now and then, it is well worth it to pay the extra money for the organic variety that will contain only natural hormones.
Of course, things like candy, soda and other snacks packed with sugar should also be avoided as much as humanly possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t ever enjoy the wonders of turtle cheesecake ever again; just try your best to cut back on the heavy sweets so they’re not within your daily routine.
And please, for the love of everything that’s good in the universe- please start reading the nutritional packaging on store-bought foods before purchasing them. You’ll be amazed at how many “healthy” snacks are absolutely overloaded with sugars and trans-fats.
Better Food Alternatives for Healthy Skin
Now that I’ve absolutely ruined your day by proclaiming that many of your favorite snacks are causing your skin to prematurely age, I figured that I’d better share a few good snacks that you’ll likely enjoy. And don’t worry- I’m not going to tell you to eat rice cakes…because they are actually bad for your skin as well (they contain simple carbs that destroy collagen).
First off, you have a green light on any fruit or vegetable due to the abundance of nutrients and antioxidants up for grabs. Be careful with cooking them, however, because frying, grilling or boiling can actually strip out many of the main benefits…especially if the food is overcooked. Steaming or light grilling is definitely your best options.
Also, try to add oranges (high in Vitamin C), grapes (Resveratrol), Brussel sprouts (high in Vitamin A, C, & Folate), and Avocados (monounsaturated fat) to your weekly diet. All four are excellent for anti-inflammation and helping your body make the most your of your skincare regimens. As an alternative, you could also aim for collard greens, kale, broccoli, tomatoes and/or cauliflower.
Now let’s talk about entrees. I’ve already mentioned how fish is an excellent source of omega-3’s, and Salmon is certainly the best of the best in that regard. Mackerel and sardines also top the charts from a skincare standpoint BUT almost any fish is going to be beneficial. Just be sure to cook it with the skin intact and avoid charring. In simple terms, overcooking causes a chemical reaction that negates many of the health benefits.
Finally, let’s talk about other forms of protein- your chicken, eggs, and lean beef in particular. It’s no secret that protein helps your body build collagen, so you definitely want to be eating around ten protein-enriched meals of 3-6 ounces every week. Tofu is an excellent alternative as well.