Free radical damage, or oxidation, is responsible for causing skin to sag, toughen up and dry out. Free radicals, so called because they are missing a vital molecule which leads them to attack and damage other cells to reacquire this molecule, deplete the skin of collagen and elastin. This causes the skin's fibers to shirk and toughen, leading to wrinkles. Over time, free radicals also slow the body's ability to generate new skin cells and skin appears older as new, plump cells don't replace the old, shriveled ones.
The solution is antioxidants. These are already present in our bodies and also in some foods, so the obvious solution is to boost our intake by eating a diet rich in antioxidants.
The biggest group of antioxidants are flavonoids - the phytochemicals which give fruits and vegetables their color and taste. So the main staples of a skin-healthy diet are fresh whole foods such as berries, grapes, nuts, and green vegetables, including leafy vegetables.
Vitamins C and E found in fruits and vegetables naturally supports skin structure, reduces free radical damage and provides protection from damage caused by sun exposure.
Foods like liver, eggs and oily fish are rich in vitamin A. Vitamin A is a vital nutrient for healthy skin. It is essential for skin maintenance and repair, and preventing a dry, flaky, rough complexion and pimples. Vitamin A is found in brightly colored fruits and vegetables like carrots, leafy greens, broccoli, sweet potatoes, melon and pumpkin, where it is present as beta-carotene.
Berries contain ellagic acid, a compound that protects collagen and therefore helps to reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
Green tea is also beneficial; because of its high antioxidant content it helps to combat free radicals and protect skin from premature aging.
Zinc is a trace mineral essential for skin regeneration and oil content control. A lack of zinc causes poor healing and stretch marks, and a deficiency is also associated with conditions such as acne and eczema. Zinc is found in pecan nuts, pumpkin seeds, sardines and shellfish.
Each food is unique and by eating foods in combination with one another, you can ensure optimum absorption of vital vitamins, minerals and other nutrients from these foods.
Foods to avoid include those that contain processed sugars and trans fats. Sugar is one of the most damaging and aging foods for our bodies. It destroys collagen, which is needed to hold wrinkles at bay, and it ruins digestion which leads to bloating, cramping, sluggishness and headaches. Sugar is not just found in 'sweet' foods; even white flour and other refined carbohydrates turn into glucose in the body.
Millions of people struggle with acne, making it the most common skin disorder in the world and in USA in particular.
Finally, don't underestimate the importance of drinking enough water. Water is the body's most fundamental beauty treatment. It helps to improve aging toxins and improves the skins elasticity. Chronic dehydration makes our skin look less smooth and older.
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