I’m sure there’s not one of you out there who hasn’t heard the phrase “you are what you eat.” Sure, if you eat garbage day and night you’ll feel bad and probably end up with some extra pounds, but what does that do to your skin? To put it bluntly, could the term “pizza face” be taken literally if your diet is similar to that of a frat boy’s? Grab a healthy snack and settle in, friends-- I’m dropping knowledge this month about how to eat your way to pretty skin.
We hear so much these days about the evils of sugar. With adult-onset diabetes and obesity on the rise, it’s hard to ignore the damage that an excess of sugar can do to our bodies. It can wreak abject havoc on your skin too. (So put down the Snickers.) As sugar is processed in the body, its byproducts begin to break down collagen and elastin, the proteins that keep our skin firm and supple. This process is called glycation. The result? Premature aging, in the form of wrinkles and sagging. No self-respecting lady has time for that, so cut out added sugar in your diet ASAP. Sugar has many aliases on food labels, including dextrose, fruit juice concentrate, and brown rice syrup, so do your homework. The number-one skin-damaging culprit when it comes to sugar is high-fructose corn syrup. This stuff is pure evil! It’s shockingly common in sodas and processed foods, so read labels and choose accordingly. And don’t substitute real sugar for manufactured artificial sweeteners like aspartame-- those can be even worse for you than table sugar or corn syrup. Stick with a natural sweetener like stevia or honey. Wearing sunscreen everyday (EVERY DAY!) will head future damage off at the pass. It should be noted that using sugar on the outside of your body is a different story. Sugar scrubs are much more hydrating and gentle than their salt-based counterparts. My favorite old-school face scrub is a mixture of sugar and honey. Simple yet effective.
On the other side of the spectrum, fat in your diet can actually improve the look and feel of your skin, provided that it’s the right kind of fat. Omega 3 fatty acids are miracle workers when it comes to promoting healthy skin, hair, and joints (especially for those of us with dry skin and/ or hair). Wild salmon, walnuts, olives, and flax and chia seeds are all awesome examples of foods rich in omegas. You can also get your daily dose of omegas with a good-quality supplement-- Advocare OmegaPlex is my favorite. Minimally-processed oils such as olive and coconut are also good choices. Look for “cold-pressed,” “extra virgin,” or “expeller processed” on the label. However, many oils with lower flash points break down and release skin-wrecking (and potentially cancer-causing) free radicals when heated past a certain point, so opt for coconut or safflower oil when cooking.
In addition of adding healthy fat to your diet, follow the advice of the fashion magazines this season and go for color. (I don’t mean opting for the red Gatorade. That stuff isn’t good for you.) As a general rule of thumb, the more colorful the food, the healthier it is. Think berries, greens, tuna and salmon, sweet potatoes, colorful veggies, and citrus: all vibrant in color and good for your body, inside and out! All of these foods are rich in powerful substances like antioxidants and vitamins that are the building blocks of healthy cells. Pop a B-complex vitamin to further combat the signs of aging-- look for one containing B1 and B6. I don’t know about y’all, but there’s just something about a big ol’ salad full of Spring’s first bounty or a tall glass of green juice that just makes me happy this time of year.
Paying a little attention the next time you do your grocery shopping and making small changes can add up to a big difference in the look and feel of your skin. Getting plenty of rest, drinking lots of water, and avoiding smoking and the sun will certainly help matters too. So the next time you sit down to dinner, ask yourself, “is this good for my face, as well as my body?” Then we can all talk about it when we’re old and still looking young and fabulous!
The Beauty Junkie