Heavy moisturizing creams, collagen-rich products, maybe a little Botox here-and-there, lots of sunscreen and massaging your face upwards. There are all sorts of tips, tricks and advice about keeping your skin super-firm and wrinkle-free as you begin to age. But just like your mama always told you that “pretty is as pretty does,” the same goes for getting older: you have to give your body the essential nutrients it needs to help your skin retain its elasticity and that youthful glow that you wish you could just bottle up forever-and-ever. (Amen!)
So how do you make sure what you’re consuming is helping you fight your skin’s biological clock? By making sure your diet is rich in the type of nutrients, vitamins and ingredients that keep you healthy and young. “As we get older, our gut doesn’t absorb nutrients as well. It’s important to make healthy choices for foods that nourish our body and skin,” says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Jessie Cheung.
Here’s what Cheung suggests for the best type of diet that will help your skin anti-age:
1. Nibble on Low-Sugar Snacks
You might reach for that extra glass of vino or let yourself splurge on a rich piece of chocolate cake every once in awhile but having excess sugar in your diet can make your skin age faster than you’d like. “Sugar in the bloodstream links to protein and creates Advanced Glycation Endproducts (AGE’s), which are distorted and dysfunctional,” explains Cheung. “These AGE’s cause chronic inflammation and contribute to wrinkles, atherosclerosis, and arthritis.”
Instead of drooling over doughnuts or even juices that hide their sugar content—Cheung recommends focusing on a low-glycemic diet that has a lot of fiber, like whole wheat crackers, baby carrots and celery. These will help regulate sugar spikes when you do have a late-night or mid-afternoon craving.
2. Eat More Berries
What’s one of the key ingredients your body needs to keep your skin it’s prime state? No surprise here: collagen! As we age, we begin to lose the natural-occurring collagen that we’re born with and we will produce less-and-less with each year. That’s why Cheung suggests munching on berries – strawberries, blueberries, raspberries! – when you need a snack. Why? These straight-from-the-vine varieties are high in Vitamin C and antioxidants, both of which aid in collagen formation.
3. Choose Oily Fish
If you’re a big fan of seafood, you’re in luck: this type of protein is best for our skin’s tenderness. (Maybe that’s why the mermaids always look so radiant, even under the sea?) As Cheung explains, fish are a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids which are anti-inflammatory, causing your skin to stay firm and gorgeous. Feeling scattered brain at a restaurant and can’t make an in-the-moment decision for what type of fish to order? Cheung suggests opting for the oiliest fish you can find. These fish – like smoked salmon, swordfish, white fish, mackerel and tilapia – are all super-high in vitamin D which helps build your immune system and prevent cancer. And of course – give you the same benefits of sitting in the sun, which is a much better alternative for your skin cells.
4. Munch on a Handful of Nuts
You’ve long known about the benefits of almonds—they are one of the top recommendations from every nutritionist, after all – but in addition to regulating weight loss and keeping you feel fuller longer, they can also help you anti-age. In fact, Cheung says nuts are a great source of antioxidants and rich in minerals like zinc and selenium, which boosts our immune system and thyroid function. Another fun benefit? They provide concentrated healthy and unsaturated fats!
5. Go for the Yogurt
Keeping your immune system in tip-top shape will prevent breakouts and skin issues, which in turn, means less scarring that only gets deeper with time. In addition to a daily probiotic to promote great gut health, she also suggests eating yogurt regularly. This powerhouse snack serves the same purpose of an oral probiotic and regulates the absorption of nutrients from your gut. Plus, they usually taste pretty darn good, too.