Forget splashing the cash on ‘miracle’ beauty products in a bid to keep those wrinkles at bay.
Turns out there’s another way to help slow down the ageing process by eating your way to more youthful looking skin.
So while we still look for the elusive fountain of youth, these expert-backed food staples should help keep you looking younger.
Eat your heart out Dame Helen.
“Vegetables such as carrots, squash, pumpkin and sweet potatoes contain particularly high levels of beta carotene and other carotenoids, which give them their lovely orange colour,” Dr Marilyn Glenville, leading UK nutritionist and author of The Natural Health Bible for Women, told Yahoo Style UK.
Beta carotene itself helps to prevent free radical damage to our cells that can result in ageing, as it works as an antioxidant.
“Beta carotene converts to vitamin A in our body, which is one of the most important nutrients for skin integrity (meaning skin that is firm, resists damage and can heal quickly),” she continued.
The orange vegetables are delicious as a basis for stews and soups in the winter, or roasted with other vegetables such as peppers, red onions and beetroot and added to summer salads. Yum.
Is there no end to the health benefits of our favourite brunch dish?
“Avocado is a good source of vitamin E, which is thought to have several roles in skin health,” Dr Glenville explained.
“Like vitamin C, it works as an antioxidant so may protect the skin cells against damage from free radicals, which in turn helps to keep your complexion looking refreshed and revitalised.
“It is also thought to help protect the skin from UV rays, and have anti-inflammatory activity in the skin.”
Although avocado is relatively high in fat, the majority of this is healthy monounsaturated fat like that found in olive oil, and the omega-6 fatty acid linoleic acid.
“Omega-6 fats are helpful for preventing moisture loss from the skin; and monounsaturated fats may also have this benefit,” Dr. Glenville continued.
“On top of this, avocados also contain good levels of carotenoids, those same antioxidants that are found in the orange vegetables.”
Sprinkle some healthy pumpkin seeds on your summer salad for added anti-ageing benefits.
“These nutritional gems are excellent sources of zinc, one of the most important minerals for maintaining healthy, happy skin,” Dr Glenville explained.
“It is thought that as much as 20% of the body’s zinc is stored in the skin, and it has a major role in growth and healing. Deficiency in this mineral is linked with acne; dry skin, dermatitis and poor wound healing,” she adds.
“As well as being necessary for our heart, brain and eye health, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids play an essential role in the structure and appearance of the skin,” Nutritionist and Fitness Instructor Cassandra Barns explained.
“They are incorporated into cell membranes in the epidermis (the top layer of skin) and form a matrix around the cells, helping to maintain the skin’s barrier function and prevent moisture loss.”
“They are also thought to have a role in the dermis – the lower layer of skin – by controlling inflammation and minimising collagen damage from UV rays.
“So if you can, be sure to eat a good serving of oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines three times a week,” Cassandra Burns added.
Last year we told you that porridge was one of the best breakfasts you could have in terms of health benefits, but the oat-based brekkie is also great for your skin.
Dr Glenville says oats are a particularly rich source of biotin, a vitamin that is well-known for its role in the health of our skin and hair.
“Oats are an anti-ageing food, packed full of antioxidants that help to battle against cell damage,” she explained.
They are also high in gentle fibre, which helps to maintain a healthy digestive tract and bowel function.
“Healthy digestion is vital for our skin for two main reasons. Firstly, we need to digest foods properly for all those skin-loving nutrients to get into our body; and secondly, if we are not eliminating waste properly then excess toxins can circulate in the blood and may come out through the skin,” explained Dr. Glenville.
Say no to sugar
We already know that sugar isn’t great for us in terms of our health (and our waistlines) but did you realise it can impact your skin too.
“Sugary and processed foods contain little in the way of vitamins and minerals that nourish and protect the skin,” said Dr Glenville.
“Sugar and refined carbohydrates (which are quickly absorbed, just like sugar) cause a surge of the hormone insulin, which can then increase your levels of testosterone, which in turn can contribute to breakouts and acne.”
Sugar can also make your skin lose its elasticity and plumpness.
“This is all down to a process called glycation. Glycation is the bonding between sugar and protein in the body, resulting in proteins like collagen and elastin becoming less effective. This can result in loss of elasticity of the skin, encouraging the formation of wrinkles,” explained Dr. Glenville.