5 foods for healthy skin

Blemish free, radiant young-looking skin is something all women long for.

Millions are spent across the world on creams, lotions, serums and other potions - all promising the perfect complexion.

But, instead of focusing on what you slather on your skin, a team of experts are urging women, and men alike, to rather concentrate on what they are putting in their bodies.

Forget a fancy new moisturiser, they proclaim.

And instead embrace the notion that beautiful skin starts on your plate.

Shona Wilkinson, head nutritionist at www.NutriCentre.com, a natural health retailer, said: ′Many people don′t make a link between the foods they eat and their skin.

′But, like any other part of the body, our skin is kept healthy by the food and nutrients that we consume.

′So while a poor diet can quickly lead to sallow or dry skin, blemishes or acne, a healthy diet based on whole foods including a variety of vegetables and fruit, nuts and seeds, beans, fish and whole grains is an excellent basis for glowing, youthful skin.

′The following foods are particularly good sources of helpful nutrients and great skin boosters.′

KEEP IT ORANGE

Vegetables such as carrots, squash, pumpkin and sweet potatoes contain particularly high levels of beta carotene, and other carotenoids, which give them their orange colour.

′Beta carotene converts to vitamin A in our body, which is one of the most important nutrients for skin integrity - meaning the skin that is firm, resists damage and can heal quickly,′ Ms Wilkinson said.

′Beta carotene itself may also help to prevent free radical damage to our cells that can result in ageing, as it works as an antioxidant.

′The orange vegetables are delicious as a basis for stews and soups in the winter, or roasted with other vegetables such as peppers, red onions and beetroot.′

BEAUTIFUL BERRIES

Berries such as blueberries, raspberries and blackcurrants are excellent sources of vitamin C.

Nutritionist Cassandra Barns said: ′This vitamin is vital for the formation of collagen, which gives our skin structure and elasticity.′

Furthermore, she explained, vitamin C is also an antioxidant, ′protecting our cells from damage′.

′Berries also contain many other plant nutrients that may work as antioxidants in the body, such as the quercetin, catechins and resveratrol,′ she said.

′Another advantage of berries over most other fruits is that they are lower in sugar - a diet high in sugary foods can speed up skin ageing.

′Berries are great added to plain yoghurt, with some chopped nuts ? an ideal snack or breakfast option.′

Ms Barns said it can be beneficial to take a supplement packed with antioxidants and resveratrol, such as Nature′s Plus AgeLoss Skin Support.

OILY FISH FOR HYDRATION

Oily fish, including sardines, mackerel, salmon, and trout, are packed with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids.

Ms Barns said: ′It has been found that Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids play an essential role in skin structure and appearance.

′They are incorporated into cell membranes in the epidermis, the outermost layer of cells in the skin, and help to maintain the skin′s barrier function and prevent moisture loss.

′They are also thought to have a role in the dermis, the lower layer of the skin, by controlling inflammation and minimising collagen damage from UV rays.′

For those people who are not a fan of fish, Ms Barns said a good fish oil supplement, such as Quest Vitamins′ Omega-3 can prove a good addition to their daily diet.

A* SKIN WITH AVOCADO

Avocado is a good source of vitamin E, which is thought to have several roles in skin health.

Like vitamin C, it works as an antioxidant so may protect the skin cells against damage from free radicals.

It is also thought to help protect the skin from UV rays, and have anti-inflammatory activity in the skin - inflammation is involved in skin rashes, blemishes and acne.

Nutritionist Dr Marilyn Glenville, author of The Natural Health Bible For Women, said: ?Although avocado is relatively high in fat, the majority of this is healthy monounsaturated fat like that found in olive oil, and the omega-6 fatty acid linoleic acid.

′As we have already seen, omega-6 fats are helpful for preventing moisture loss from the skin; and monounsaturated fats may also have this benefit.

′On top of this, avocadoes also contain good levels of carotenoids, those same antioxidants that are found in the orange vegetables.?

PUMPKIN SEEDS FOR PROBLEM SKIN

These nutritional gems are excellent sources of zinc, one of the most important minerals for maintaining healthy, happy skin.

Ms Wilkinson said: ?It is thought that as much as 20 per cent of the body?s zinc is stored in the skin, and it has a major role in growth and healing.′

Deficiency in this mineral is linked with acne, dry skin, dermatitis and poor wound healing, she explained.

Pumpkin seeds, like avocadoes, nuts and other seeds, also contain the omega-6 fat linoleic acid.

′Other seeds and nuts are also good sources of zinc, as well as biotin, a vitamin that is known to contribute to healthy skin and hair,? added Ms Wilkinson.

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