It's well known that eating a nutritious diet improves your health, but it also plays a significant role in your appearance. The largest and most visible organ in the body, the skin, is impacted by what you eat every day. Incorporating a balanced diet into your lifestyle can prevent premature signs of aging and help you maintain beautiful, healthy skin.
Choose Colorful Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables that are bright yellow, red, orange and deep green contain antioxidants beta-carotene and vitamin C. Antioxidants prevent damage caused by free radicals, or byproducts produced by your metabolism that damage your DNA and cause premature aging. Vitamin C is also critical in wound healing and in preventing dry skin. Five servings of fruits and vegetables daily help you meet your dietary requirements and can make a difference in skin appearance, according to the University of Maryland.
Water makes up approximately 60 percent of your body's weight, making it a vital nutrient for all organs. When you do not consume enough water, a common physical sign is dry, flaky skin. Limit your intake of other beverages with caffeine like soda, coffee and energy drinks that can promote dehydration and dull the skin's appearance. The University of Wisconsin-Madison recommends 8 glasses of water per day.
Consuming adequate protein also plays a large part in the health and appearance of your skin. It supports the production of a protein known as collagen that maintains the skin's structure and elasticity. Collagen naturally breaks down as you age, leading to wrinkles. A diet sufficient in protein can prevent this from occurring prematurely. According to Harvard's School of Public Health, the best sources are lean meats, legumes, eggs, low-fat dairy and nuts. The recommended dietary allowance for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight for adults aged 18 to 50.
Avoid Refined and Processed Foods
Refined carbohydrates and other processed foods surround and tempt you, but are detrimental to your skin's appearance. These convenience foods, such as chips, candy and frozen TV dinners, tend to be high in calories and lack essential vitamins and minerals important for skin health. According to Mayo Clinic dermatologist Dr. Lawrence Gibson, these items contain preservatives, sugars and fats that hasten the aging process and contribute to weight gain, an additional factor detrimental to your skin's integrity and general health.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Beta-Carotene
- Oregon State University Linus Pauling Institute: Vitamin C and Skin Health
- Mayo Clinic: What are the Best Foods for Healthy Skin?
- Oregon State University Linus Pauling Institute: Micronutrients and Skin Health
- Harvard School of Public Health: Protein
- UW Health: The Benefits of Drinking Water for Your Skin
- Mayo Clinic. Nutrition and Health Eating.
Elissa Lueckemeyer is a registered dietitian with experience in long-term care, nutrition support and acute rehabilitation. As a former professional ballet dancer, Lueckemeyer combines her knowledge of physical fitness and diet to write about health and disease prevention. She holds a Bachelor of Science in nutrition and foods from Texas State University.