Ever noticed that when you reach for that second cookie after dinner, you wake up with skin that looks dull, blotchy, and maybe even has a few more wrinkles? There's a reason for that.
In the curious case of the chocolate chip cookie, sugar and gluten are at fault for making you age overnight. But there's good news: While it's true that processed food can wreak havoc on your insides and your skin, there are superfoods you can eat that do the exact opposite. Ready to boost your beauty factor?
Increase cell turnover and skin's radiance with kale
Getting your daily dose of Vitamin A is crucial to skin regeneration and cell turnover. You know how bright, glowing, and clear skin looks after you exfoliate? If you want your skin to look like that all the time, up your vitamin A intake. In fact, retinol, the anti-aging topical medication that dermatologists prescribe to help keep your skin wrinkle free, is comprised of molecules from vitamin A.
Get the benefits of a retinol treatment without slathering it all over your face by eating more dried apricots, red bell peppers, and kale, each of which is packed with tons of vitamin A. You need about 3,000 IUs of the beautifying supplement a day, which is only about a half a cup of kale! Easier than you thought, right? If you’re kale-averse, try cod liver oil. Cod liver oil is infamous for being pretty pungent, but newer formulas have eliminated the gnarly fishy smell so you can look pretty and smell good too.
Broccoli and papaya help skin repair and keep wrinkles at bay
Ever gone shopping for face lotion and noticed the pricey bottles that promise to fight wrinkles with "the power of vitamin C?" Don't believe the hype—you don’t need to spend your whole paycheck on a mystery serum in order to see the benefits of this powerful antioxidant. It not only boosts collagen production, but also reduces inflammation. The result? Skin that heals more quickly from scarring from old acne spots and that keeps its firm texture longer. Vitamin C can also work to fade sunspots.
The recommended dose of vitamin C is around 90 milligrams, and while you can take a supplement to hit your daily quota, it’s better to get your nutrients from whole foods. Yes, that morning glass of orange juice will work, but try something with a little less sugar—and a little more creativity instead. Broccoli, papaya, and brussels sprouts all give you more than 100 percent of your daily vitamin C, and they all blow past your glass of OJ in nutrient value.
Strawberries keep skin from sagging
Yes, strawberries are delicious on shortcake, but they're also full of antioxidants and nutrients. Trailing closely behind blackberries and walnuts, food scientists have shown that the strawberry has the third highest antioxidant capacity of all U.S. foods. Ellagic acid, an antioxidant found in strawberries, has been shown to protect elastic fibers that keep skin from sagging.
If you are using a topical serum, eating strawberries has been proven to make those potions more efficient. So you can wear your antioxidants and eat them too.
Scrambled eggs protect your skin from the sun's rays
Strange but true! Lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants found in eggs, protect the eyes and skin from UV damage by filtering light and acting as a shield for your skin. Eggs are also high in healthy fats—that’s what makes that runny yolk so delicious—and protein, so your skin will stay moisturized and retain collagen better.
Lavender heals your skin, stat
We already know that lavender is incredible as an aromatic, but the oil itself has some incredible healing properties that must be shared with your skin! With its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory powers, lavender can help your skin heal from cuts and scrapes quickly and without scarring.
Try this awesome lavender jam, or lavender-infused lemonade to add a little of this sweet smelling herb into your life.
Zinc and walnuts zap acne before it starts
Walnuts are powerhouses of nutrition. Yes, they’re a little higher in fats than some other nuts in your trail mix, but those good fats are what keeps your skin looking moist and supple. These little guys are chock full of alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fat that our bodies don’t produce naturally. Alpha-linolenic acid is the main component of the lubricating layer of your skin. Walnuts are also high in zinc, which has been proven to fight acne when taken regularly. Moisturized, acne-free skin? Sign us up.
Tried all these skin superfoods and your skin is still acting up? Try to stay away from foods with gluten and go easy on the sugar. Gluten has been proven to irritate and inflame cells, and often the signs of gluten intolerance manifest themselves as rashy or aggravated skin. Sugar can have a the same inflammatory effect on skin, and too much added sugar in your diet can throw off your hormonal levels and cause acne (not to mention mood swings). Take a break from these foods for a week or two, and your skin should look better than ever!
Photo credit: Paul Delmont