Making sure the right nutrients are supplied in your diet can lead to seemingly miraculous rejuvenating effects, skin can ‘de-age’ when offered the right materials for self-repair. That’s right; you can literally eat yourself visibly younger. What’s more, the foods that can help you reverse the signs of ageing are delicious too.
How your skin ages
What do mangoes, avocadoes, nuts and apples have in common? They all contain anti-ageing nutrients that are proven to act like a ‘fountain of youth’ upon your skin cells. To understand how this seemingly simple solution can actually work, let’s reveal the science behind these biological processes.
Scientists used to believe that ageing was mostly genetic and therefore little could be done about it, save for expensive surgical techniques; now, however, the latest research shows that genetic influences only factor in 3% (ref.1) of the ‘how and why’ skin ages, the other 97% is down to our diet and environmental factors such as sun damage, smoking, pollution, drinking alcohol and other lifestyle choices (ref.2). You have probably heard about ‘free radicals’ and oxidisation too, these play a large part in how the cells age and decay (ref.3) Oxidisation to a skin cell is like rusting to a car; the slow decaying process caused by reactive oxygen molecules. Once the biological ‘rust’ has taken hold the cells age much faster. There is also the formation of wrinkles caused by collagen fibres in the skin linking together, these links cannot be undone; the only cure is prevention with a diet that inhibits this ‘cross-linking’ of collagen
But enough of the science, what can be done to halt this cellular rusting and collagen cross-linking?
It’s just your AGE – The sugar connection
You may be surprised that sugar in the diet is a major cause of wrinkles and skin ageing. Dietary sugars cross-link collagen fibres together in a process called Glycation; this glycated collagen or Advanced Glycation End-product (AGE) causes accelerated ageing. Collagen is the fibre in the skin that keeps it smooth, elastic and youthful – linked collagen is a definite no-no for keeping skin tight and youthful. There are also preformed AGEs which are already present in foods that have been heated without water; every time you eat a grilled, roasted or fried food you are ingesting these destructive AGEs. Current research shows that even the same food cooked in different ways can become an ‘age-accelerator’. For example simple boiled rice has an AGE factor of just 1 where crispy rice cereal has an AGE factor of 220. (ref. 4)
And it’s not just what you add but what you don’t add to the diet which makes a huge difference. There are certain nutrients associated with skin health including anti-oxidants which are the skin’s protection against ‘rusting’. Being short of Zinc or the B vitamin complex can accelerate cellular decay (ref.5). But before you rush off to the health shop for bottles of pills, remember it is far better for your body (and much more delicious) to get your anti-ageing nutrients in the form of real, fresh, juicy, natural food.
The top ten facelift foods
These foods eaten on a very regular if not daily basis will start to repair and rejuvenate your skin cells, feeding them the necessary nutrients to stay healthy and initiate self-repair.
These crunchy fruits are very rich in a well-documented anti-ageing phytochemical called Quercetin, this anti-oxidant is a flavonoid which has been shown in research to have a rejuvenating effect upon skin cells. (ref. 7)
One of most important vitamins for the skin is Vitamin A, lack of this nutrient leads to many different skin issues including acne. Mangoes are a very tasty fruit rich in Pro-vitamin A; they are also rich in Vitamin C which is an excellent anti-oxidant (ref.9)
These fatty fruits are rich in another well know skin nutrient – Vitamin E, a fat soluble nutrient that is often in skincare products as it is one of the few that can be directly absorbed through the skin itself. (ref 8) (ref 9)
These tasty little seeds are rich in Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) which are, as the name suggests, essential. Many studies have revealed the link between skin problems and skin dryness with lack of EFAs. Dry skin is much more prone to damage and wrinkles. (Ref. 9)
5. Pumpkin seeds
These seeds are very rich in the mineral Zinc which is necessary in the biological fight against cellular decay. They also contain EFAs and Vitamin E making them a great beauty food.
Grape skins contain a very powerful anti-oxidant called Resveratrol which has been shown effective in the war against those skin-ageing ‘free radicals’ (ref 10)
Not just for colds and worms, garlic has shown to be a very effective anti-ager, having an active effect on fine lines and wrinkles. (ref 11)
Cinnamon, cloves and ginger have been shown to inhibit AGEs and therefore help avoid collagen breakdown. (ref 4)
Nuts, especially brazils, cashews and almonds are rich in an anti-ageing amino acid called Arganine which studies have shown to be a nutrient that improves the appearance of skin, hair and nails (ref 12)
The tastiest anti-ageing nutrient! Raw cacao (chocolate) is very rich in two important anti-agers; Quercetin and Arganine.
EAT YOURSELF BEAUTIFUL!
Here are some simple recipes for rejuvenation
1. Mango & apple smoothie
A tangy beautifying breakfast rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin A and Quercetin
Blend 2 peeled cored apples with 1 juicy ripe mango and a handful of hulled hempseeds
2. Spicy chocolate truffles
An arganine, EFA and quercetin rich super-food snack to inhibit those AGEs and rejuvenate you.
In a food processor grind a large handful of hulled hempseeds and raw nuts, add 1 flat tablespoon of raw cacao powder and 1 teaspoon each of cinnamon, ginger and clove powder. Drizzle in enough honey to bind and sweeten then roll into balls and firm up in the fridge.
3. Mango and Avocado chunky salsa
A satisfying Vitamin A and E rich side dish
Chop a ripe avocado and half a large ripe mango into cubes and toss with finely chopped garlic and lime juice. Add some halved grapes for extra anti-oxidant activity.
Give yourself a rejuvenation boost in just one day by eating only the foods listed above and utilising a few tried and tested pampering techniques:
1. Stock up on the anti-agers above the day before and enjoy a smoothie for breakfast with the raw chocolate truffles and grapes for snacks. Lunch and dinner can be large fruit and leaf salads with the mango and avocado salsa on top as a dressing. Eat as much as you like to stay satisfied.
2. Speed up skin detoxification by skin brushing using a real bristle brush in long upward strokes
3. Drink 6-8 glasses of filtered water throughout the day
4. Pamper your skin by making a face mask using mango pulp and avocado creamed up with a teaspoon of live yoghourt. Leave on for at least 10 minutes then rinse with warm water.
By adding the facelift foods regularly to your diet you will notice an improvement in skin tone and youthfulness. Enjoy eating your way to younger skin.
Article first published in Natural Health Magazine