Slowly unzipping your pristine garment bag, you carefully remove the sophisticated little black dress that you just purchased from your successful shopping spree. After slipping it over your cascading curls, perfectly sprayed into place, you give yourself a once-over: one last swipe of mascara, blot of fiery-red lipstick and spritz of musky, eau de perfume. Your confident demeanor is as sharp as your French manicure. And then you notice it. Small. Tiny. Yet powerful enough to shift your entire attitude.
More than a new couture wardrobe, flawless make-up or vintage clutch, glowing skin is a sure show-stopper. And yes, the familiar adage, “you are what you eat,” continues to ring true.
“Everything you eat becomes a part of not only your inner being, but the outer fabric of your body as well. The healthier the foods are that you consume, the better your skin will look,” says Samantha Heller, MS, RD, a clinical nutritionist at NYU Medical Center in New York City.
Experts agree that eating a balanced diet and staying hydrated are two key essentials in maintaining clear skin.
You may find yourself saying, “but I do eat a balanced diet…”
Balanced in what? Fast food, fried food and processed junk food.
“Foods that keep your blood sugar low are good for the skin,” says Meagen McCusker, an associate professor of dermatology at the University of Connecticut Health Center. “The first thing I tell people is avoid sugar – which includes refined sugar, high-fructose corn syrup- and processed foods.”
Yep. All of the “goodies” according to our old routine of eating. However, a plethora of healthy foods exist. Knowing which substitutions to replace into your daily diet will aid in your edible skin-regiment:
Instead of refined white carbs, turn to complex, whole wheat alternatives: whole grain bread, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta and quinoa. Whole-grain options are digested more slowly and do not lead to the skin-sabotaging insulin-spike that results in acne. Dress up your quinoa with chickpeas, pomegranate seeds and fresh cilantro.
Essential fatty-acids (EFAs) reduce the inflammation in the body. Inflammation triggers cells to clog the pore, thus resulting in break-outs. Fish that contain the most EFAs include: salmon, mackerel, scallops and tuna. Other sources include almonds, hazelnuts and flaxseed. Enhance your seared scallops with edamame puree, drizzle of olive oil and dust of almonds.
Olive oil, leafy green vegetables, colorful berries and legumes are other sources of antioxidants that disarm free radicals and reduce inflammation. Sprinkle your spinach and kale salad with flax seeds, fresh avocados, strawberries, lemon juice and drizzle with olive oil.
Transform your skin to reflect the beautiful colors of fresh produce that you consume.
And remember, hydration is essential. “The skin is like a third kidney. If you don’t have enough water flushing through it, it doesn’t work well,” McCuster says.
Take a logical approach to skin and nutrition. When you promote good skin, by eating healthy, you promote overall good health. Begin by moving in a sensible direction that works for you: eat less sugar and consume more steamed vegetables. Identify what makes a difference for you and your lifestyle.
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” – Hippocrates