Who doesn’t love to eat? Of course the real question is: Who doesn’t love to eat foods that are very bad for us? The answer is no one. No wait. Maybe that guy on the juicer commercials doesn’t love junk food, but for the rest of us, resisting temptation isn’t so easy.  It is common knowledge that healthy diet and lifestyle has been shown to prolong your life and the quality of your life. What about the positive effects these things have on the skin?

When we take the last bite of that king size candy bar (really?), we think to ourselves: are we going to still fit into our jeans by the weekend? We’re not usually thinking about the long and short term effects it will have on our complexions. We know that eating junk food doesn’t cause pimples. That’s an old school myth. We do know now however that eating junk food and not enough of the good stuff does actually have an impact on the aging and appearance of the skin.

I began looking around the web for interesting facts about the correlation between certain foods and skin health. I found a lot of cool stuff.  The Center for Disease Control or the CDC, has something called The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.  There are tons of these surveys being done for different demographics and foods.  Once study conducted showed that intake of high Vitamin C foods (citrus fruits, red peppers, tomatoes) is associated with a lower risk of wrinkled and dryness in middle-aged women. This may be due to the antioxidant properties of Vitamin C and its role in keeping the skin firm due to its effect on collagen synthesis.  I swear that when I eat a lot of tomatoes my skin looks better. Maybe it’s not just a coincidence.

Blackberries, plums, strawberries and blueberries have the highest antioxidant content of any foods according to the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.   Now consider eating these things when not dropped into a pitcher of sangria or dipped in fondue.

Another recent study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that of 1100 Australian adults (and we know that big ol’ hole in the ozone is right over them) over 5 years, precancerous lesions on the skin were decreased by 30 percent in those who ate 5oz or more of omega-3 rich fish each week.  Actinic Keratoses are skin lesions that show up from chronic sun exposure and may develop into cancer if left untreated.   Scientists believe that the omega-3’s act as a shield against free radical damage in the cell walls and offer anti-inflammatory protection to the skin.  Now they are not saying that eating fish and omega-3 rich foods replace using sunscreen. Just interesting to know that good nutrition does effect the skin in a positive way.  By the way, if you want to scare yourself a little, look up some information on the Ozone hole in the Earth. Recent reports show it’s actually closing up and not going to be as devastating as originally thought. Whew.

Another thing I want to mention. Sugar.  The low carb craze is pretty much over because really, who can live without having a bagel. A side of bacon just doesn’t sound so appealing anymore unless accompanied by some pancakes. Sugar and high-glycemic carbohydrates which are junky carbs like anything with white flour and the processed garbage we seem to live on like crackers, cereal, rice, potatoes, and breads, can cause glycation. A fancy word for a process in which sugar attaches to proteins in the bloodstream forming harmful molecules called Advanced Glycation End Products that breakdown the collagen and elastin in the skin, speeding up the aging process. Ok, that was a very, very simple explanation of a highly sophisticated chemical process that happens in the body when you eat too many bad carbs. Cutting out bad carbs and processed food from your diet even for just a few days makes a huge difference in how you look and feel. You should try it.

Basically of all the information available about good skin foods it all boils down to this: Antioxidants (berries, tomatoes, broccoli) and omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, albacore tuna) and eating way less processed foods are the things that are going to make the difference.  Overall good nutrition for overall good health, skin included. No one said you can’t eat a little junk in moderation.

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