Have you ever thought about your skin as the largest organ in your body? Probably not. Automatically, we think about skin of our face. However, for the average adult human, the skin has a surface area of between 1.5-2.0 square metres (16.1-21.5 sq. ft.). When we are getting older, our skin does the same, everywhere – on our butt and on our face. So, the solution is to put a cream on your face and pants on your butt. No, it’s not that simple.
Traditionally, anti-aging creams have been designed to reduce or diminish the effects of aging: many of them hide the effects of aging while others claim to alter the body’s chemical balances to slow the physical effects of aging. The truth is that despite great demand, many such cosmetic products and treatments have not been proven to give lasting or major positive effects. One study found that the best performing creams reduced wrinkles by less than 10% over 12 weeks which is not noticeable to the human eye. Another study found that cheap moisturizers were as effective as high-priced anti-wrinkle creams (https://www.theguardian.com/money/blog/2009/aug/20/face-cream-study )
Longer lasting youth (nobody can guarantee you “everlasting” one) is not a project, it is a lifestyle; and the food you eat is a major part of it.
Here are 8 essential nutrients and the foods rich in them that can help us to look younger:
Vitamin A benefits the skin by normalizing keratinization, downregulating sebum production which contributes to acne, and reversing and treating photo-damage, stretch marks, and cellulite. Foods with vitamin A include: liver, eggs, milk, red peppers, pumpkin, carrots, apricots, cantaloupe, and sweet potatoes. Other good sources of vitamin A are leafy greens. No, that wasn’t a mistake – the orange pigment hides beneath green-tinted chlorophyll.
Vitamin D is used to downregulate the cutaneous immune system and epithelial proliferation while promoting differentiation. Very few foods contain vitamin D. Sunlight exposure is the primary source of vitamin D for people. Dermal synthesis of vitamin D from cholesterol in the skin under the sun is the major natural source of this vitamin. Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel and sardines, eggs, mushrooms are good prerequisites for the vitamin D formation.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that regulates collagen synthesis, forms barrier lipids and provides photoprotection. The richest natural sources of vitamin C are fruits and vegetables, and of those, the Kakadu plum and the camu-camu fruit contain the highest concentration of the vitamin. Then follow rose hips, red bell pepper, parsley, broccoli, strawberry, blueberry, papaya, orange, kale, and pineapple. It is also present in some cuts of meat, especially liver.
Vitamin E is a membrane antioxidant that protects against oxidative damage and also provides protection against harmful UV rays. Vitamin E can be found most abundantly in wheat germ oil, sunflower seeds, safflower oil, corn oil, almonds, avocado and papaya. But don’t go crazy with vitamin E because regular consumption of more than 1,000mg of it per day may cause hypervitaminosis E, with an associated risk of vitamin K deficiency and consequently of bleeding problems.
Vitamin K can improve your skin and prevent wrinkles because it plays a key role in solving the calcification problems that harden arteries and affect the connective elastin that keeps your skin soft and subtle. Without adequate vitamin K in your diet, calcium can be deposited in your skin’s elastin fibers and harden to cause wrinkles. It also can help treat a variety of skin conditions such as spider veins, stretch marks, scars, skin irritations, and dark circles under the eyes. However, applying vitamin K to the surface of the skin won’t make spider veins disappear, you have to enrich your diet with vitamin K.
Foods with vitamin K: leafy green vegetables such as spinach, Swiss chard, lettuce, kale, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, avocado, kiwifruit and grapes. Two tablespoons of parsley contain 153% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin K. TIP: the absorption of vitamin K is greater when accompanied by fats such as butter or oils.
Foods with zinc make your skin soft and smooth and help reducing acne, even as effectively as antibiotics. Zinc assists in the proper structure of proteins and cell membranes, improves wound healing, and has anti-inflammatory effects. Dietary zinc is best absorbed from animal sources. Oysters, lobster and red meats, especially beef, lamb and liver have some of the highest concentrations of zinc in food. Zinc is also found in beans, nuts, almonds, whole grains, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and blackcurrant, but it is less bioavailable as the zinc is bound to phytates.
Rich in protein and zinc, legumes help repair and regenerate skin cells that have suffered free radical damage.
Omega-3 fatty acids are among the must-have foods for healthy skin because they are responsible for the health of the cell membrane, which is not only a barrier to harmful things, but also the passageway for nutrients to cross in and waste products to get out. Thanks to membranes, the skin cells are able to hold water and maintain healthy metabolism resulting in softer, more subtle, and more wrinkle-free skin. The foods highest in omega-3 fatty acids include fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines), and seafood as well as walnuts, canola oil, and flax seed.