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How Diet Affects Your Skin Health

Doctors agree that diet and skin health are connected, meaning every time you look in the mirror you can see the effects of your diet on the most visible body organ – your skin. Every day, our bodies naturally produce evidence of what we consume. However, the process is much more complex than the old adage “you are what you eat.”

For instance, look at oxygen; it’s in the air we breathe, the water we drink, and in the food we eat. Unfortunately, oxygen combines with other processes in our skin at the cellular level to produce free radicals. Once produced, these agents become the enemy of our skin tissue. This is a natural process, much like the effects of oxygen on metal, which causes oxidation and eventually, rust. But in your body, this same process leads to inflammation, and it can take many forms. On the skin, inflammation can make pores look bigger, or make skin look dull, discolored, or aged. Wrinkles, acne, and even eczema are also related to the damaging effects of oxidation-related inflammation.

But if this “rusting” of our skin is a natural process, what can we do?

Consider this…

  • Vitamins A, C, and E are “antioxidant rich” adversaries of the free radicals that hide in our cells and attack our skin.
  • Selenium is a mineral that is critical to the production of glutathione, another enemy of free radicals.
  • Thiamine is a B vitamin that helps skin cells function normally.
  • Zinc assists epidermal cell growth,
  • Protein is essential for skin repair
  • Vitamin C helps the body naturally manufacture collagen, a protein that keeps the skin supple and tight.

Vitamins and minerals are essential to skin health because they maintain a system of resitance to the processes commonly associated with aging, and those vitamins and minerals reside in the foods we eat.

What kind of foods are best for your skin?

Writing for MSN Health & Fitness, Dr. Keecha Harris recommends a broccoli-rich diet, adding that carrots, berries, and whole-grain cereals ought to be on our shopping list as well. Eating well in general is the key, rather than any specific diet, but she says that if there is a fountain of youth, it likely springs from antioxidant-rich foods such as these.

Another leading skin expert, Nicholas Perricone, M.D., agrees wholeheartedly. Perricone is an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the Yale University School of Medicine and author of “The Wrinkle Cure.” Like Dr. Harris, Perricone emphasises antioxidants in his approach to a skin-healthy diet, and believes the ideal skin-healthy meal would include a six-ounce serving of fresh grilled salmon, a romaine lettuce salad with lemon juice and olive oil for a dressing, and fresh cantaloupe. In fact, fish is at the top of Perricone’s skin health list of anti-aging foods, pointing out that fatty fish contains skin health nutrients as well as those all-important Omega 3 fatty acids. He lists salmon, albacore tuna, and mackerel as great additions to any skin-healthy diet.

The bottom line is this: knowledge is power. Most of these food-related issues are in our control; and the more we know, the more we can influence the natural processes that make us look younger or older. But as usual, permanent lifestyle changes are the ones that work, not fads or gimmicks.

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