Most of us make an effort to protect our skin from the outside – applying sunscreen, wearing wide-brimmed hats, or staying in the shade. But what steps can we take to keep our skin young and supple from the inside?
Studies have shown that what we eat – or don’t eat – has an undeniable effect on our skin’s health. The skin is our largest organ, and since it is the outermost barrier of the body, it is constantly exposed to various sources of stress. Just like any other organ in our body, our skin will be at its healthiest if we supply it with vitamins and minerals from a well-balanced diet. Nourishing our bodies from within can give us a healthy glow that erases years from our appearance.
Healthy Skin Diet
For a youthful glow and smoother looking skin, consider the following tips when writing out your weekly grocery list.
- Fill up on fiber. A high-fiber diet helps to eliminate toxins – including environmental toxins that assault our skin on a daily basis. Consuming 35 grams of fiber each day can effectively detoxify our systems and leave our skin feeling younger and healthier.
- Choose your carbs carefully. Replace refined carbohydrates like white bread, pasta, and pastries with whole grains. Whole grains contain more anti-aging antioxidants, as well as a healthy heaping of fiber.
- Focus on healthy fats. Reduce the saturated fat and trans fat in your diet, and replace them with healthy Omega 3 fatty acids and linoleic acid. Omega 3’s from fish sources can reduce the risk of skin cancer. Linoleic acid, found in sunflower oil and olive oil, helps to prevent dry, flaky skin.
- Seek out vitamin C. The antioxidant vitamin C is involved in the formation of collagen, a protein that binds cells and tissues together, keeping our skin firm and reducing wrinkles. Include more vitamin C with foods such as oranges, grapefruit, kiwis, strawberries, red bell peppers, and broccoli.
- Enjoy mineral-rich meals. Some studies have shown that the mineral selenium may play a role in skin cancer prevention. Selenium can be found in whole-grain cereals, seafood, garlic, and eggs. The mineral zinc, which is found in oysters, poultry, and other lean meat, can help control oil production, aiding oily or acne-prone skin.
- Relish the roughage. Silica, found in plant-based foods, can help maintain the elasticity of our skin and improve our complexion. However, silica is often found in the parts of fruits and vegetables that are discarded – the strings and the peels. So, whenever possible, enjoy every part of the fruit or vegetable, like cucumber skin or celery strings.
- Crave carotenoids. Consuming a diet rich in carotenoids helps protect the skin from aging due to UV exposure. Carotenoid-rich foods include cantaloupe, apricots, carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, and other fruits and vegetables with deep green, yellow, orange, or red coloring.
- Look for lycopene. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that protects our skin from environmental factors including sun damage and pollutants. Tomatoes are the best source of lycopene; watermelon and pink grapefruit are also rich in this antioxidant.
- Water is the fountain of youth. Much like a plant, our skin depends on water to keep from drooping and becoming dry and brittle. Drinking water keeps our skin moisturized, helping to maintain its elasticity and suppleness. Water also flushes away damaging toxins, so we should include at least six to eight glasses in our daily routine.
Healthy Recipes for Supple Skin
Below are some skin-smoothing recipes that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, lycopene, vitamin C, carotenoids, and selenium. These healthy dishes will help you to look as good as you feel.
Pan-Seared Salmon with Lemon-Dill Yogurt Sauce
This savory summer dish has healthy omega-3’s, which can reduce the risk of skin cancer and contribute to healthy, hydrated skin. (Serves 4. Each serving contains 369 calories; 30 g protein; 19 g fat; 19 g carb; 4 g fiber.)
- 1 cup plain soy yogurt
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 4 4-ounce salmon fillets
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 cups cooked mixed fresh vegetables or thawed frozen mixed vegetables
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a medium bowl combine the yogurt, dill, lemon zest, and olive oil. Mix well and set aside.
- In a large sauté pan, melt butter and sear salmon fillets on medium-high heat, flesh side down, for about 3 minutes. Turn the fillets over and cook for about 3 more minutes. Place fish on a warm serving plate.
- Heat canola oil; sauté garlic until fragrant. Add vegetables; sauté until heated through. Season with salt and pepper to taste
- To serve, arrange vegetables around fish fillets and spoon yogurt sauce over fish. Serve warm.
Papaya, Shrimp, and Soba Salad
Papaya is packed with vitamin C; garlic and shrimp are excellent sources of selenium; olive oil provides linoleic acid; soba noodles are a healthy carb. When it comes to younger, healthier skin, this delectable dish has you covered! (Serves 4. Each serving contains 630 calories; 34 g protein; 26 g fat; 68 g carbs; 7 g fiber.)
- Coarse salt and ground pepper (to taste)
- 8 ounces soba noodles
- 1/3 cup tamarind concentrate
- 2 tablespoons light-brown sugar
- 1/4 cup light olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, plus more for garnish
- 1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 1 papaya (about 1 pound), peeled, seeds removed, quartered lengthwise, and thinly sliced crosswise
- 1/2 cup salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- In a large pot of rapidly boiling salted water, cook soba noodles according to package instructions; drain.
- In a large bowl, whisk together tamarind, sugar, 2 tablespoons oil, lime juice, and cayenne. Add drained noodles, cilantro, onion, half the papaya, and all but 3 tablespoons of the peanuts; season with salt and pepper and toss to combine.
- In a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over low. Add garlic and cook until golden brown on both sides, about 5 minutes total. Remove garlic chips and set aside on a paper towel. Raise heat to medium-high; add shrimp, sprinkle with coriander, salt, and pepper, and cook, tossing occasionally, until shrimp are just cooked through, about 3 minutes.
- To serve, divide noodles and shrimp evenly among four large bowls; top each serving with remaining papaya, peanuts, garlic chips, and cilantro.
Watermelon and Cantaloupe Kanten
This refreshing gelatin is the perfect addition to a warm summer evening’s menu. Watermelon is an excellent source of lycopene, and cantaloupe provides powerful anti-aging carotenoids. (Each serving contains 175 calories; 2 g protein; 0 g fat; 44 g carbs; 2 g fiber.)
- 1 cantaloupe (about 3 pounds), halved and seeded
- 1 wedge seedless watermelon (about 2 pounds)
- 3 cups apple cider or apple juice
- 1 cup water
- 1/3 cup kanten flakes (vegetable gelatin)
- 1/4 cup honey
- Scoop out cantaloupe and watermelon with a melon baller (yields about 8 cups total) and put in a 9-by-5-inch (8 cup) loaf pan; set aside.
- In a medium saucepan, bring cider, water, and kanten to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the kanten is dissolved, about 5 minutes. Turn off heat and stir in honey until dissolved; cool to room temperature. Pour cooled liquid over the melon and set aside at room temperature until set, about 3 hours.
- Invert the kanten onto a platter. Slice into individual portions and serve. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to two days.
Recipes courtesy of www.marthastewart.com.