Beyond SPF & Lotions: Does Diet Really Affect The Appearance of Our Skin?
Guest post by Cassie Brewer
As many of us already know, things like excessive exposure to the elements, both cold and heat, especially harmful UV rays from the sun, can wreak havoc on our largest organ, the skin. It’s also what we put into our bodies that can harm this important, outer protective layer. Most of us are aware that smoking cigarettes and other forms of tobacco use can also make our skin look aged well before its time.
But what about other things we consume or apply to protect our skin, the SPF (sun protection factor) found in over-the-counter sunscreens for example. Doctors and dermatologists agree that no skin care routine should be complete without the use of sunblock, even for those with oily skin, there are solutions available to protect our skin from the harmful effects of the sun.
While there’s plenty of foods that we eat to lose weight and keep a trim physique, there are also items to consider putting on our plates that will help keep our skin looking and feeling healthy.
Does Diet Really Matter?
According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, studies have shown that a better diet can play a significant role in the health of our skin, especially the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. They examined over 4,000 women between the ages of 40 and 74 who were evaluated by dermatologists in a clinical setting. These physicians were looking specifically for these three, distinctive factors:
- Skin Atrophy (or degeneration)
- A wrinkled appearance
Their conclusions found that those women who had higher intake levels of vitamin C and linoleic acids had fewer of these age-related skin conditions. While on the other hand, those who consumed more carbohydrates and fats had an increase in fine lines, wrinkles, dryness and atrophy.
Cut Carbs and Eat Leaner
Physicians and other experts have been telling us for decades that cutting down on carbohydrates and fatty foods in our diet has a number of health benefits, especially for our cardiovascular system, but it would appear as they should be singing these praises for our skin as well. And according to the research cited above, we should be adding more vitamin C and linoleic acids into our health regime.
While we all know to eat more oranges and other citrus fruits for increased vitamin C levels, what about linoleic acid? There are basically two types, linoleic (also known as omega-6 fatty acids) alpha linoleic (omega-3 fatty acids). These can be found more abundantly in:
- Cold water fish, especially salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, anchovies and trout.
- Seeds, primarily flaxseed, inside its oil, meat and seeds have the highest levels of linoleic acids, but don’t forget sunflower and pumpkin seeds.
- Members of the nut family, almonds, peanuts, pecans, pistachios, walnuts and Brazil nuts are all good choices.
- Avocadoes and green leafy vegetables including spinach, kale, collard and mustard greens.
Other oils such as corn, safflower, sunflower, soybean and cottonseed, can contain linoleic acid, but do to overprocessing, many of these types of nutrients are often removed.
So the simple answer to this question, whether or not our diet affects the physical appearance of our skin, would be yes. In both the long and short term, we should be considering what we put into our bodies as well as what we apply to the exterior.