As registered dietitians and personal trainers, we are intimately familiar with the health benefits that good nutrition provides for every part of the body. Interestingly, most people focus on nutrition and exercise for disease prevention or for weight loss, but they don’t typically think of the positive effects they have on skin, the body’s largest organ. If you need yet another reason to get motivated to step up your nutrition and fitness, add amazing, glowing, healthy skin to the list.
Exercise for Better Skin? You Bet!
Exercise gets the blood pumping, helping it to flow more efficiently throughout the body and deliver oxygen and nutrients to the skin, nourishing its cells and keeping it vital. Increased blood flow means proficient flushing of wastes and toxins out of the skin, including damaging free radicals, which cause harm and make the skin look less than lustrous. If you’ve ever noticed that your skin looks clearer and more vibrant after working out, it’s largely due to the oxygen and nutrients and the wastes flushed via sweat. Plus, exercise increases endorphins, which decreases stress. When we’re less stressed, we have fewer acne breakouts and eczema flare-ups.
Take a Bite For Better Skin? You Bet!
It’s no secret that what you put inside your body is reflected on the outside by how you look and feel. When it comes to your skin, use this checklist as a guide to make sure you’re doing everything you can to get smooth, soft, supple and healthy skin that works to fight the damage that comes with the aging process.
Water, water, water. Without adequate water, your skin looks dry and weathered. Water plumps up the cells and fills the spaces under your skin, nourishing it and making it look fresh and youthful. Aim to drink roughly half your body weight in ounces every day.
Load up on fruits and veggies for vitamin C. Vitamin C helps with wound healing and is the most common antioxidant found in skin. It prevents free radicals from accelerating the aging process and from becoming cancerous. Vitamin C also plays a role in collagen formation and keeping the skin youthful and elastic.
Don’t forget Vitamin A. Your best choices for vitamin A are low-fat milk, egg yolks, fish oils, dark greens, and yellow and orange vegetables. Think spinach, sweet potatoes and carrots, which contain beta-carotene, a precursor for vitamin A. You need vitamin A to help maintain the outer layer of your skin by sloughing off old cells and growing new ones. Vitamin A is also a potent anti-inflammatory, so it soothes and calms skin flare-ups. Beta-carotene acts as a natural sunblock and protects the skin against the sun’s harmful rays.
This easy egg recipe includes spinach and mushrooms: Sunny Side Eggs on a Portobello “Bagel”
Get your fill from this fun snack or appetizer that includes eggs and beta carotene rich tomatoes and red peppers: Egg Salad Tomato Poppers
Eat more fruits and veggies containing potassium. Potassium keeps the skin hydrated, which is your ticket to dewy, rich, glowing skin. Milk, yogurt and beans are all good sources of potassium.
Try these Fruit and “Cream” Crepes for the yogurt and fruit potassium duo.
Eat nuts and seeds to get your vitamin E. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects the skin from damage and prevents free radicals from accelerating the aging process. Also rich in vitamin E are avocados, whole-wheat flour and soy foods. If you’re watching your weight, limit nuts to one or two tablespoons daily as calories add up quickly.
Try this Guaco-Chocolate Mousse for a creamy decadent dose of Vitamin E.
Did you say “chocolate?” Yes, chocolate has powerful antioxidants called flavonoids that help to protect the skin from damage. These compounds also are found in grape seeds, green tea, colorful fruits and veggies. Just remember moderation is the key.
Eat fish to prevent dry, flaky skin. Like flaxseeds and walnuts, fish is rich in omega 3-fatty acids that act as powerful anti-inflammatories to keep flare-ups at bay and keep the skin vibrant and healthy looking. Omega-3s also protect against sun damage.
Give these healthy fish sticks a try.
Eat foods that contain selenium. Selenium is a powerful antioxidant found in meats, fish, shellfish, brazil nuts, wheat germ, garlic and eggs. It preserves tissue elasticity and protects against skin cancer. It also slows down the aging and hardening of tissues associated with oxidation.
This garlic-rich recipe features the added bonus of vitamin A from the butternut squash: Roasted Butternut Squash with Garlic and Parsley
Eat protein. Protein is, of course, found in meat, chicken, fish, eggs, dairy products, soy, beans and nuts, and helps to maintain skin’s elasticity.
Limit your intake of alcohol. Be aware that it depletes the body of B vitamins and zinc, which are needed for healthy skin. It also causes vasodilation, broken capillaries and puffiness, and speeds up aging, so try to keep it to a minimum.
Avoid greasy and deep-fried foods. They will clog pores—especially if you don’t wash your hands after eating them and then touch your skin. Our clients who come to us with breakouts say this has worked miracles for them. And don’t underestimate the power of washing your hands after eating any oily food.
Instead of pore-clogging fried potato chips, try these Ginger Cinnamon Apple Chips.