There's probably no better road map to aging than the face. A wrinkle here, a sunspot there — all signs that we're growing up. Let's be real; there's no magic cure for wrinkles and the other effects of aging, but there are preventive measures to take that don't involve fancy creams or weekly visits to the esthetician. Wrinkles, dry skin, and sun spots, all common signs of aging; find out which foods will stop them dead in their tracks. The fountain of youth is just a meal away.
If someone mentioned that smiling left such an (ever) lasting impression, some of us may have been a little more selective with what we found funny. It seems that no matter what age you are when it happens, wrinkles still have the ability to make you feel, well, old. Keep in mind, aging isn't the only thing that causes wrinkles: smoking, sun damage, and all that squinting, smiling, and frowning also contribute to those little — and sometimes, not-so-little — lines that find a home on our face.
Preventative Foods: Vitamin C serums are huge in the skincare world as a good line of defense against wrinkles. They also come with a hefty price tag. Guess what? Science says, an orange a day keeps the wrinkles away! A study showed that participants who ate a diet high in vitamin C and linoleic acid were less prone to wrinkles. While we're talking fruit, you may want to up your berry intake, too. The antioxidant powerhouses are key in keeping skin free of environmental stress that help contribute to aging.
Learn which foods help with dry skin and sunspots after the break!
Dry, Flaky Skin
As the body gets older, its sebaceous glands begin producing less oil. The good: no more shiny face come lunchtime. The bad: this decrease in oil production means that skin is more prone to dryness, itch, and irritation. For some this can mean dealing with skin that cracks, flakes, and is otherwise (painfully) uncomfortable. Suddenly that oil slick we were sporting as acne-prone teenagers doesn't seem so bad.
Preventative Foods: From a food perspective, the best thing you can do to keep skin from getting dry is kind of a no-brainer — drink water. While slathering on expensive creams may provide temporary relief, drinking water is essential in promoting skin circulation at its base. (It’s also a much cheaper option.) Keep in mind that the widely accepted stat of needing 64 ounces of water per day isn’t a universal truth. For some, it’s more, and for others, less. Use our stat calculator to find out how much water you should be drinking. Beyond water, the number one nutrient that will keep skin supple and soft is omega-3 fatty acids. The good-for-you fats help soften dry skin by holding in moisture and plumping it up, which will also help decrease the look of wrinkles. Foods high in omega-3s include salmon, tuna, and trout. If fish isn’t your thing, look for flaxseed, avocado, and walnuts. Vitamin A also goes a long way when soothing dry, flaky skin and is easily found in dark, leafy greens. Tonight, give yourself a youthful glow by grilling up a nice piece of salmon to serve over a bed of spinach.
Who doesn’t love a natural dose of vitamin D? Playing outside is pretty standard amongst kids, and, as adults, we continue with the playtime. Sunny brunches, outdoor runs, and tropical getaways are just a few examples of how we expose ourselves to the sun on a daily basis. What isn't fun about sun damage though, is its knack for creeping up on you, says in-demand esthetician Marilyn Jaeger of Marilyn Jaeger Skincare Studio. "If you don’t take preventative measures now," Jaeger says, "you won’t know the full extent of the damage until you're older." Namely: leathery skin, wrinkles, and brown spots — all of which become increasingly harder to reverse as you age. Beyond the superficial, overexposure to the sun can also result in skin cancer — the biggest downfall of them all.
Preventative Foods: While certain foods have been shown to help fight sun damage, keep in mind that they should not be used as replacements for a good sunscreen and limiting sun exposure. However, adding a few tomatoes to your diet can't hurt. A 2008 study indicates that eating tomatoes can improve the skin's ability to protect against UV rays, and researchers speculate that other lycopene-rich foods have the same affect. (Added bonus: in addition to protecting against sunburn, the same study shows that tomatoes help the body produce procollagen, which helps keep skin firm.) Adding green tea to your daily routine is another defense against the dangers of the sun: the natural anti-inflammatory has been shown to protect against melanoma. If your face is already showing signs of sun damage, a good exfoliation is in order — why not stick to one that's good enough to eat? Try this tropical-inspired DIY scrub made up of natural ingredients like pineapple and coconut milk.