Skin is the body’s largest organ. When healthy, its layers work hard to protect us. But when it’s compromised, the skin’s ability to work as an effective barrier is impaired. We have therefore found the best ways to improve skin health to support it in maintaining its protective role.
Eat a healthful diet
There is a multibillion-dollar industry dedicated to products that keep your skin looking its best, and which claim to fight signs of ageing. But moisturisers only go skin deep, and ageing develops at a deeper, cellular level.
What you eat is as important as the products that you put on your skin. Your diet could improve your skin health from the inside out, so a clear complexion begins with eating a healthful diet.
Here are some foods that have been acknowledged by research as being skin-healthy.
Mangoes contain compounds with antioxidant properties. These compounds help to protect components of the skin, such as collagen.
Tomatoes have skin cancer-prevention benefits. One study in mice revealed that daily tomato consumption decreased the development of skin cancer tumours by 50 percent after UV light exposure.
tomatoes on a wooden board
Consuming tomatoes on a daily basis may help to protect against skin cancer.
Research has shown that incorporating tomato paste into your meals may help to protect against sunburn. After 10 weeks, people who consumed 40 grams of tomato paste per day had 40 percent less sunburn than the control group.
Lycopene, the pigment responsible for giving tomatoes their deep red colour, is thought to play a role in the protective effect of tomatoes against UV damage.
Olive oil is associated with a lower risk of severe facial photoageing — that is, cumulative damage to the skin that includes wrinkles, dark spots, and discolouration, which result from long-term sunlight exposure.
Cocoa flavanols found in dark chocolate may improve the structure and function of skin. Scientists discovered that cocoa flavanols decreased roughness and scaling on skin, increased skin hydration, and helped to support the skin’s defences against damage from UV rays.
Green tea has been tied to many skin benefits. Compounds found in green tea called polyphenols rejuvenate dying skin cells, which suggests that they may be useful for healing wounds or certain skin conditions.
It has shown promising results as a potential treatment for skin conditions such as psoriasis and dandruff. Patches of dry, flaky, and red skin often feature in these conditions — usually as a result of inflammation and the overproduction of skin cells. Green tea may slow down the production of skin cells and suppress inflammation.
White tea has anti-cancer and anti-aging properties. One study indicates that some ingredients in white tea may protect the skin from oxidative stress and immune cell damage.
Kale is one of the best sources of lutein and zeaxanthin. Lutein and zeaxanthin may protect against light-induced skin damage, especially from UV rays.
Omega-3 found in oily fish, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds or oils such as linseed oil and corn oil may prevent dryness and scaling of the skin.
Soy may help to improve crow’s feet skin wrinkles that appear at the outer corner of the eyes in menopausal women.
Never rely on foods to protect you from the sun. To protect yourself from sun exposure, always use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15, seek shade between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., and wear clothing that covers your skin and a wide-brimmed hat.
Calorie restriction diet
Research has demonstrated in mice that reducing calorie intake slows down the cellular ageing process. This finding could prove to be an anti-aging strategy to test in humans in the future.
Scientists found that reducing the number of calories consumed by 35 percent had an impact on ageing inside a cell. Cutting calories caused the cell’s protein makers, called ribosomes, to slow down, and the ageing process also to decelerate.
This decreased speed not only lowered the production of ribosomes, but it also gave them time to repair themselves and keep the entire body functioning well.