We’ve all looked in the mirror and asked, “Do I look my age?” Most of us want to prevent aging, reverse aging, or just age gracefully, which leads to the question: What should we eat or what could we be doing to keep our skin looking younger and healthier? There’s a reason, after all, that the conventional wisdom tells us you are what you eat; everything in the body is connected so if your gut isn’t healthy, it will most likely show up on your face!
Blueberries are a high-antioxidant food—and antioxidants are like superheroes in the battle against aging skin. Foods rich in antioxidants help slow aging at the cellular level by scavenging free radicals. Free radicals damage cells and tissues, which results in wrinkles and premature sagging.
A cup of strawberries (about eight strawberries) contains more vitamin C than an orange. Not only is vitamin C key to a healthy immune system, but it does wonder for our skin because it helps produce collagen, which keeps skin taut and smoothes fine lines.
Carrots are packed with carotenoids, which our body converts to vitamin A. According to Siegel, studies have shown vitamin A carotenoids protect skin, tissue, and cells from environmental toxins and diseases that cause oxidative damage (wrinkles).
These legumes can help maintain long, luscious locks because they contain B vitamins and biotin, which are needed for healthy hair growth. Lentils are also packed with both protein and fiber, the two nutrients that help maintain blood sugar levels and keep you feeling full the longest—meaning they’re one of the most hearty, affordable waist-friendly ingredients.
A zinc deficiency has been linked to acne, which is why Zuckerbrot often recommends oysters to her clients. Just two oysters will put you over the recommended daily amount of zinc—which if you’re concerned about acne or aging, you should be eating. Zinc deficiency is a known cause of acne and zinc helps protect collagen and elastin proteins, which keep your skin young and resilient.
Red Bell Peppers
Red bell peppers are packed with vitamin C—three times more vitamin C than an orange, in fact! As mentioned, vitamin C contributes to the formation of collagen and prevents free radical damage. Collagen is a protein that binds cells and tissues together to keep our skin firm, smooth, elastic, and generally looking vibrant. Individuals who consumed foods rich in vitamin C had fewer wrinkles and less age-related dry skin than those who consumed only small amounts of vitamin C.
Garlic may make your breath smell, but it can also help to prevent breakouts. Garlic contains the compound allicin, which is known to have great anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal properties, helping you to maintain a clear complexion. Another perk? Despite being high in nutritional value and flavor, garlic is very low in calories.
Coconut oil can help improve gut health and studies show it may prevent Alzheimer’s disease. High in healthy fats and vitamins E and K, coconut oil can also boost hair growth and shine by moisturizing the scalp. It does wonders for anti-aging because it reduces stress on the liver and lowers oxidative stress, in addition to reducing inflammation, both internally and externally.
Iron deficiency may contribute to hair loss, as well as brittle nails and feelings of lethargy. Unfortunately, iron is one of the most common deficiencies among women. Here’s something that might surprise you – the answer might be red meat. When it comes to getting enough iron in your diet, beef is one of your best bets. Always try to opt for grass-fed versus grain-fed beef, and go for sirloin or tenderloin over prime or T-bone; the latter choices are higher in fat.
Studies have shown skin-protective qualities with green tea. Protective benefits—for green tea polyphenols—against UV light-induced skin damage, as well as an ability to improve skin hydration, elasticity, and density. Green tea also happens to be one of the best—and effective—alternatives to coffee since it won’t leave you jittery, and it’s less acidic (meaning it won’t aggravate your stomach or cause digestive issues).
Whole grains are rich in a skin-boosting mineral called selenium. According to Siegel, selenium works to protect against UV-induced cell damage, inflammation, and pigmentation. “Selenium also has anti-inflammatory properties—calming inflamed and irritated skin. Selenium neutralizes free radicals before they can lead to wrinkles.
When you think kale, think vitamin K. Why? Because kale is the highest source of vitamin k per calorie. Vitamin K plays a role in ensuring healthy skin and is believed to prevent wrinkles and premature aging and promotes brain function, too.
Seaweed, AKA Nori
Nori is one of the best sources of iodine, which is essential for the production of thyroid hormones. Thyroid insufficiencies can result in fatigue, weight gain, hair loss, and dry yellowy-colored skin.
Shiitake mushrooms have been shown to strengthen the immune system. Adding shiitake mushrooms to your diet can help improve your complexion because they’re packed with the collagen-boosting mineral, copper. These mushrooms are also rich in an antioxidant called L-ergothioneine, which has been shown to help exfoliate the skin.
If you’re suffering from hair loss or brittle nails, you’ve most likely been told to take a biotin supplement. While that’s effective, biotin is exceedingly more effective in food form, and almonds are among the best food sources of Biotin (Vitamin H). Biotin can also help if you suffer from dandruff as it helps stop yeasts, a cause of dandruff, from budding full cycle. Aside from biotin, they also contain magnesium, which can have a calming effect and help control blood sugar levels.
Salmon boasts omega-3 fatty acids, which work to decrease inflammation. Omega-3s may reduce the presence of acne and other skin conditions as well. Research has shown an increase in dietary essential fatty acids can also prevent both chronological and sun-damaged induced signs of aging.
Sunflower seeds are among the best food sources of vitamin E, which is often found in anti-aging creams—and for good reason. Vitamin E helps to rehydrate the skin and reduces dry and rough skin. It also prevents inflammation and protects from sun damage.
All of the skin-boosting nutrients, however, will only provide their benefits with proper hydration. Drinking water is key to ensuring all of these important nutrients are delivered to cells—drink up! Loading your diet with water-rich foods like watermelon will also help keep you hydrated. For those that need more convincing, Siegel underlines that “dehydrated skin appears more dry and wrinkled, and that’s the last thing anyone wants from their skin.