It’s no secret that nutrition plays a major role in our overall well-being, and what you eat can be just as important as serums and exfoliators for keeping your skin healthy and glowing. “While balanced nutrition isn’t a magic bullet to combat aging,” says Kathleen Meehan MS, RD, LDN, “staying hydrated and having a diet full of healthful foods can help to keep your skin youthful.”
She recommends eating a mix of plant-based foods that contain vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients to encourage glowing skin. As a simple rule of thumb, eat every color of the rainbow each day. Each color of fruits and vegetables contains a different set of phytonutrients, providing you with a different benefit.
Just as certain foods can improve the look of our skin, others might contribute to its aging. One of the major skin-damaging culprits is sugar. When our bodies digest sugar, it initiates a process known as glycation, which happens when sugar attaches to collagen in the skin. This causes your cells to stop working properly and to create free radicals causing even more damage to your skin. The collagen and elastin that were once working to keep your skin looking youthful aren’t able to do their jobs, over time causing skin issues like wrinkles, brown spots and sagging.
While you don’t always have to avoid a slice of cake at your friend’s birthday party or a scoop of ice cream on a hot day, Meehan does recommend adding better choices to your daily diet. “Think about the foods you might be able to add in to enhance your nutrition and add balance,” she says.
Finding simple and easy ways to incorporate more nutrient dense foods into your diet can contribute to long-term skin health. These healthy snacks to keep at work are not only simple, but are also packed with key nutrients and minerals that will work with your skin regimen to keep your skin healthy from the inside out.
Meehan recommends peanut butter as one of the best healthy snacks to keep at work because it contains vitamin E, zinc and healthy fats. Vitamin E is a well-known antioxidant that is thought to help prevent wrinkles, she says. Spread peanut butter on a fresh, organic apple, which contains a dietary fiber called pectin, which helps your body release more toxins. Apples are also filled with bioflavonoids and vitamins that contribute to skin health. Be sure to keep the peel on your apple, as that’s where two-thirds of its antioxidants are found!
Create a colorful snack by making homemade avocado hummus (here’s an easy recipe from the California Avocado Commission) and chopping up some colorful veggies for dipping like red pepper and carrots. Meehan suggests the addition of avocados over plan hummus because avocado provides a great source of vitamin E and B-complex vitamins, which nourish the skin and can boost its luminosity. It’s also rich in fatty acids, which studies suggest correlate to younger looking and healthier skin. Red peppers are loaded with vitamin C, which plays a role in maintaining skin integrity and firmness, according to Meehan. Carrots are one of the best sources of beta-carotene, a nutrient that protects your skin from sun damage and free radicals. This one snack provides you with some of the most powerful nutrients to keep your skin looking its best.
This easy-to-make snack not only satisfies a sweet tooth, but also offers an array of nutrients that contribute to skin health. Each of these nutrient powerhouses works in a unique way to keep your skin glowing. Strawberries contain a hearty dose of vitamin C, an antioxidant which has been shown to lessen signs of aging and improve collagen production. Studies have also found that vitamin C is most effective when combined with other micronutrients like vitamin E and zinc. Coconut flakes provide a tasty serving of zinc, which helps maintain skin’s integrity through collagen growth. Research also suggests zinc can reduce acne. In addition to their antioxidants, which can help prevent signs of aging, walnuts are loaded with B vitamins, which are crucial for healthy hair, skin and nails.