Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Graceful Aging: Foods for Healthy Skin

Is your skin not participating in your program for graceful aging?

Is it perhaps aging faster than the rest of you? Few things are more demoralizing than looking in the mirror and realizing that your skin makes you look older than your actual age! The good news is this: just as it is never too late to have a happy childhood, it is never too late to give your skin a boost to keep it looking and healthy. In this article, we will give you tips on foods for healthy skin at any age!

Risk Factors for Aging Skin
Before we dive into the menu of great foods for healthy skin, let's first take a look at the risk factors that age our skin over time.

These include:
  • sun exposure
  • smoking
  • drinking alcohol
  • sleep position
  • genetics
  • loss of fat under the skin (causing wrinkles)
  • gravity
  • poor diet (more on this in the next section)
Most people know that exposing skin to the sun's harmful rays, especially between 10 am and 3 pm, can cause a lot of damage (called photo-aging). Sun exposure in early childhood often shows up more prominently as we age. Smoking and alcohol are also common "no-no's" when it comes to the graceful aging of skin. Smokers develop lines and wrinkles much faster than non-smokers, mostly because smoke contains so many damaging ingredients, not to mention the constant drying effect of smoking wafting over the skin. Alcohol dehydrates the body, which can contribute to dry skin and wrinkles. In addition, alcohol dilates the blood vessels, contributing to broken veins and redness in the skin.

The first three items on the list of risk factors above may be no surprise. What can be a surprise is that sleep position is a risk factor for aging facial skin. If you sleep in the same position for years--and your face comes in contact with the pillow while in that position--you might end up with a permanent "sag" plus wrinkles wherever your face touches your pillow. Experts now suggest sleeping on your back to avoid this problem. Genetics, loss of fat under the skin, and gravity are three other factors that can prevent graceful aging of the skin.

Finally, diet is a big deal when it comes to having healthy young-looking skin. What you eat literally shows up on your face. Who knows? You might have egg on your face. That's why the next section is dedicated to foods for healthy skin!

Foods for Healthy Skin
Foods for healthy skin are generally foods that are healthy for our bodies. The state of our skin is a reflection of the state of our general health, so some doctors can literally tell the quality of your diet based on the condition of your skin. Luckily, integrating foods for healthy skin into your diet isn't difficult at all. Here we list a few simple dietary additions that can have a big impact on the health of your skin.

Water
True, technically water is not truly considered a food. However, dehydration is one of the major causes of aging skin. If you want healthy skin, drink plenty of water. In addition to keeping skin healthy and rejuvenated, drinking enough water also supports the body in flushing toxins, preventing water retention, and keeping our internal organs functioning at top efficiency. How much water should you drink to keep your skin healthy? Most medical experts suggest using this formula:
  • calculate 75% of your body weight. If you weigh 150 pounds, this would be 112.5 pounds
  • convert that figure to ounces (112.5 ounces, or about 14 glasses of water, 8 ounces each)
  • add 16 ounces each for a dry climate or strenuous exercise to get your total suggested water intake
Foods High in Probiotics
Foods high in probiotics equal foods for healthy skin, not to mention a super-healthy body. Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria that live in our intestines. They not only help us digest our food properly, but also play a major role in skin health. For instance recent studies indicate that adding daily probiotic-rich foods may reduce the incidence of eczema in children by more than 55%! This shows the correlation between probiotics and healthy skin, since eczema is a major skin problem. Eczema is also a sign of immune dysfunction, so adding probiotics to your diet can also support your overall immune health. Foods rich in probiotics include most fermented foods, such high-quality yogurt (such as low-fat and low-sugar Greek yogurt) or kefir. If you are not a fan of fermented foods, you can supplement your diet with probiotic capsules. We have found these strains of acidophilus and bifidus to be effective supplements for healthy skin, not to mention overall health.

Foods High in Essential Fatty Acids (mostly Omega-3)
Skin looks young when it has a lot of elasticity, and foods rich in essential fatty acids (EFAs) play a big role in helping your skin stay elastic rather than sag. Since saggy and wrinkly skin definitely has no place in a regimen of graceful aging, we suggest adding foods high in EFAs to your diet. There are two major types of EFAs: omega-3 and omega-6. To have healthy skin, you need foods that have 3 to 4 times the amount of omega-3 fatty acids to omega-6 fatty acids. Most Americans get just the opposite--eating foods that give them 10 to 20 times as much omega-6 fatty acids (the wrong type!) as omega-3 fatty acids!

You can solve this problem by eating foods that have the right balance of omega-3 and omega-6 EFAs. These types of foods include: seafood (especially deep-water fish like salmon and tuna), fresh fruit, dark-green leafy greens, micro-algae, seeds and nuts, and flax and olive oil. Adding just a little of each of these foods to your diet can make a significant difference to the appearance of your skin.

If your diet is just plain SAD (the Standard American Diet) and you don't have time to fix it, try supplementing your diet with this strain of AFA blue-green algae, which has the exact ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, making it one of Earth's perfect foods for healthy skin!

Foods High in Antioxidants
Antioxidants are those great molecular warriors that roam around our bodies, preventing damage from oxidative damage and boosting the body's immune response. Antioxidants prevent damage to the body, including our skin, making them among the top foods for healthy skin. What foods are high in antioxidants? Try these: fresh and dried fruits (especially berries), vegetables (including broccoli, spinach, carrots, sprouted greens, and kale), nuts, and even green tea or black coffee (both taken in moderation). For people with hectic schedules, get your antioxidants in capsule form --no kidding! These are handy ways to get your antioxidants when you are on the run!

At the End of the Day
If you haven't realized it by now, eating foods for healthy skin is also greatly beneficial for your entire body's health and immunity. Educating yourself about healthy foods is the first step toward younger-looking healthy skin. Actually eating those foods is the second step. One way to ensure that you eat healthy is to pick one day a week to prepare nutritious meals for the entire week. Just cook up a big batch of the foods suggested in this article, package them into meal-sized containers, and stick them in your fridge. That way, when you're on the run, you don't have to stop and think about what to do. You can just grab a container, eat, and go! Another alternative is to add supplements, including fruit-and-vegetable capsules plus probiotics and microalgae, to your diet. After all, if astronauts can eat healthy (kind of) in space, there's nothing wrong with getting your healthy food in capsules, right?

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