Radiant glow — five foods for your skin

Radiant glow — five foods for your skin

The skin needs proper nutrition to repair damage caused by the sun and pollution to maintain its moisture and elasticity, and keep fine lines and wrinkles at bay.

The skin needs proper nutrition to repair damage caused by the sun and pollution to maintain its moisture and elasticity, and keep fine lines and wrinkles at bay.

by Dr. Adrienne Stewart — 

Radiant skin starts from the inside out. The skin needs proper nutrition to repair damage caused by the sun and pollution to maintain its moisture and elasticity, and keep fine lines and wrinkles at bay. Some basics for radiant skin include eating a whole-foods diet, getting enough sleep and exercise, and employing proper skin care. But, to really power up your lifestyle for healthy, glowing skin, try adding these five items into your diet.

Avocado — The avocado is a power-packed skin food. As a good source of omega-3 and omega-6, it provides the skin with the nutrients it needs to maintain moisture and elasticity. These essential fatty acids also help reduce inflammation, which can minimize puffiness around the eyes. The healthy fats also unlock the antioxidant properties in other vegetables when eaten in combination.

Research shows that adding avocado to a salad of spinach, tomatoes, romaine and carrots will increase the absorption of carotenoids and lycopene by more than 200 percent. But even alone, avocados are a rich source of unique antioxidants that help support the body in many ways. In addition to essential fatty acids and antioxidants, avocados are also rich in fiber, vitamin K, vitamin C and the B vitamins.

The most nutrient-dense part of the avocado is in the dark green flesh right under the skin. So, the best way to peel one is with your fingers. Try adding avocado to salads, thicken up soups with avocado purée, add it to smoothies for a creamy texture or make a veggie-packed guacamole.

Blueberries — Blueberries are antioxidant-packed and help your skin recover from environmental damage caused by free radicals. These berries have a wide variety of antioxidants and phytonutrients with impressive names like anthocyanins, hydroxycinnamic acids, hydroxybenzoic acids and flavonols. These nutrients help the body repair damage caused by overexposure to sun, pollution, toxins and other environmental stressors that rob the skin of its radiance.

While many fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants, blueberries shine because they boast such a wide variety of nutrients. They do not lose potency when frozen; nor do they negatively affect blood sugar levels, despite being sweet. This makes them not only nutritious, but also convenient for modern lifestyles.

To add more blueberries to your diet, try adding them to oatmeal, cereal or pancakes in the morning, or eat them as a mid-day snack in salads, yogurt or blended in a smoothie.

Papaya — This fruit provides one of the highest sources of vitamin C, with more than 300 percent of your daily allowance in a single fruit. Vitamin C is critical for radiant skin because of its ability to repair collagen, which protects you from premature aging and sun damage. Papaya also contains vitamin E, another critical skin nutrient. The antioxidant properties of vitamin E help protect your cells from the damage caused by free radicals and have cancer-fighting properties. In addition to vitamin content, papayas are full of antioxidants, which do wonders for your skin.

To get the most antioxidant benefits, it is best to eat papayas when they are completely ripe — a red to orange tinge on their skins and moderately soft to the touch.

Add papaya to your diet by including it in salads, smoothies and desserts, or eating it fresh as a snack. One caution is that people with a severe latex allergy should avoid eating papayas, along with avocados, bananas, chestnuts and kiwi.

Water — Water is essential for radiant skin because of its ability to both hydrate the skin and help flush out toxins in your system that may cause breakouts. If you increase your intake of any kind of fruit or vegetable, such as avocados, blueberries or papayas, it is important to also increase your water intake.

Fruits and vegetables have a high fiber content that will absorb water in your body. This can dry out your skin and break collagen strands, which increase signs of aging. Water also helps the detox pathways in the body get rid of unwanted waste and toxins that can cause breakouts.

Try drinking at least half your body weight in ounces per day, in addition to any other liquid beverages you are drinking.

Flaxseed — If you experience hormonal outbreaks, flaxseed is excellent as it is rich in a phytonutrient called lignans. Lignans have antioxidant properties, fiber-like benefits and can even act as safe phytoestrogens in the body.

Flaxseed also is high in essential fatty acids, which help with inflammation. Among their myriad health benefits, they help reduce inflammation due to acne by helping regulate hormones and blood sugar levels.

Flaxseed can be added to salads, muffins, soups or even smoothies. To keep it as fresh as possible, it is best to make a small batch for immediate use.

Try making the smoothie recipe shown above for the healthy glow of radiant skin.

 

Avocado and Fruit Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1 avocado
  • 1 cup cubed papaya (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries • 10 ounces water
  • 2 teaspoons ground flaxseed

Directions:

Blend all ingredients until smooth, and enjoy.

 

Dr. Adrienne Stewart is a naturopathic physician practicing at Integrative Health in Scottsdale, Ariz. She focuses on women’s health and environmental medicine. myintegrativehealth.com or 480-657-0003.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 33, Number 2, April/May 2014.

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