Winterize Your Skin (From the Inside/Out)

Photography credit:  Tracy Sheppard of Studio Soleil
Photography credit: Tracy Sheppard of Studio Soleil

Winterize Your Skin (From the Inside/Out)

Winter has arrived. Dropping temperatures, blustery forecasts, and lack of sunlight all leave our skin looking less than glowing and radiant. We can slather on the skin creams and they may help with some of winter’s skin drying effects. One of the best defenses against cracked and dried out skin, however, are the foods we consume.

Consistency is key. Just adding these foods on occasion will not benefit the skin all that much. But adding certain foods on a regular basis can keep skin looking dewy and collagen production optimal.

What is Collagen and what role does it have in skin health?

Collagen is a hard, insoluble and fibrous protein that makes up one-third of the protein in the human body. 3 In the majority of collagens, the molecules are packed together to form very similar long thin fibrils

Collagen production naturally declines with age, reducing the structural integrity of the skin and contributing to sagging skin, the formation of lines and wrinkles and the weakening of cartilage in joints. Adding to the aging factor, weather also plays a key role in skin health. Diet, however, is a major contributor, and one that can be controlled. High sugar consumption: a diet high in sugar increases the rate of glycation, a process whereby sugar in the blood attaches to proteins to form new molecules called advanced glycation end products (AGEs). AGEs damage adjacent proteins and can make collagen dry, brittle, and weak.

There are foods that promote healthy collagen. Collagen fibers may benefit from the two amino acids lysine and proline, and the presence of collagen promoting nutrients such as vitamin C.

Fruits rich in the bioflavonoid anthocyandins, according to WHFoods, have been shown to link collagen fibers and support the connective tissue matrix.Anthocyanidins are present in deep red and purple food sources such as cherries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries.

Foods that promote healthy skin:

-Strawberries

A rich source of Vitamin C.

-Watermelon

A rich source of lycopene.

-Grapefruit

Choose pink, though, because pink grapefruit gets its pink-red hue from lycopene, a carotenoid that may help to keep your skin smooth. In a study published in 2008 in the European Journal of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics, researchers found that of the 20 individuals studied, those who had higher skin concentrations of lycopene had smoother skin. You can also get lycopene from tomatoes, carrots, watermelon, guava and red peppers

-Tomatoes

Tomatoes are rich in the antioxidant Lycopene, a carotenoid pigment that gives them their rosy red color. Studies have shown that a diet rich in lycopene can help protect the skin by as much as 33% — Good reason to add tomatoes to salads or sandwiches.

-Cocoa

Cocoa, as well as tea and red wine contain a type of flavonoid called epicatechin. In a study of 24 women, published in the Journal of Nutrition, drinking an epicatechin-rich cocoa beverage daily for 12 weeks improved skin texture. Epicatechin increases blood flow to the skin, elevating nutrient and oxygen supply — both factors essential for keeping skin healthy.

-Coffee

Drinking a single cup of coffee daily may lower the risk of developing skin cancer. In one study of more than 93,000 women, published in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention, those who drank one cup of caffeinated coffee a day reduced their risk of developing nonmelanoma skin cancer by about 10 percent. Decaffeinated coffee didn’t seem to offer the same protection.

-Tea

Research suggests caffeine in tea may help to protect your skin against skin cancer. Caffeine basically kills precancerous and ultraviolet-damaged skin cells by blocking a protein that they need to divide, explains Paul Nghiem, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of dermatology at the University of Washington Medical School.

-Carrots

Carrots contain the carotenoids beta carotene and lycopene — both of which may shield your skin against UV damage.

-Tuna

Tuna — and other omega-3-rich fish, such as Salmon, may help keep our skin looking youthful and prevent skin cancer. EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), one of the omega-3 fats in fatty fish, has been shown to preserve collagen. And EPA in combination with the other omega-3 in fish, DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), helps to prevent skin cancer by reducing inflammatory compounds that can promote tumor growth, says Homer S. Black, Ph.D.,

-Broccoli

Eating more vitamin C-rich foods, such as broccoli, may assist in warding off wrinkles and age-related dryness, suggests research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Vitamin C’s skin-smoothing effects may be due to its ability to mop up free radicals produced from ultraviolet rays and also its role in synthesizing collagen, a fibrous protein that keeps skin firm.

-Spinach

Spinach boasts lutein, a carotenoid that protects your skin from UV damage. When buying spinach, pick the one right up in the light: New research, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, reveals that spinach stored continuously under the light for as little as three days boasted higher levels of vitamin C and preserved levels of K, E, folate and the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin.

-Oatmeal

Did you know a bowl of oatmeal (old-fashioned, steel cut) contains an abundant source of silicon? Silicon is considered a beautifying mineral, which, among other benefits, can help restore the natural glow of the skin.

-Kale

Kale is a delicious food rich in vitamin A, vitamin C and calcium. Kale’s high content of vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant, makes it an especially good food for fighting premature aging due to UV damage. Plus, there are 45 different flavonoids in kale, all of which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

-Artichokes

Artichokes are delicious prepared in a number of ways — steamed and sautéed, eaten whole, chopped into salads, blended as a dip, and more. Artichokes contain several antioxidants including quercetin, anthocyanin and silymarin, which have been shown to help reduce the proliferation of cancerous cells. An additional benefit: artichokes are high in fiber that helps naturally detox your body for clearer skin.

-Water

If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times: Drinking water helps your skin stay young looking. In fact, it’s a myth. Water is good for your overall health and “the skin of someone who is severely dehydrated will benefit from fluids. But the average person’s skin does not reflect the amount of water being drunk,” explains Kenneth Bielinski, MD, Dermatologist.

The best defense for winter skin is to consume a balanced diet, protect exposed skin to harsh temperatures and remember the sunscreen, even in winter months.

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