Nutrition is closely associated with skin health and is required for all biological processes of skin from youth to old age. Nutrition levels can repair damaged skin and also cause damage to skin.
Here, we provide key dietary recommendations to support skin anti-aging by reducing the level of “free” radicals in your body that lead to cell damage. “Free” radicals, also known as Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS), are molecules that cause damage in cells and tissues by oxidative stress. Oxidative stress occurs both through natural internal processes and externally through UV exposure.
Water is a vital constituent of the body and facilitates the maintenance of balance and tissue function. Water in the body serves multiple roles. It’s a nutrient, solvent, carries molecules around the body, maintains body volume and regulates body temperature. A lack of water may lead to tissue dehydration, aging and inflammation. Aim to drink at 2 litres of filtered water per day for adequate hydration and delayed aging.
Eat a rainbow-coloured diet
This is an easy way to provide the antioxidants and nutrients that the skin needs to prevent “free radical” damage that help with cellular repair and collagen production, including vitamins and minerals. Consuming a wide range of different coloured vegetables and fruit which contain many different antioxidant compounds, carotenoids, flavonoids and phytonutrients. Aim to eat at least 7 portions per day, of which 5 portions are vegetables and 2 are fruit.
Protein contains amino acids which are essential for constructing and repairing skin cells, in particular, promoting collagen and hyaluronic acid production in skin. Hyaluronic acid helps your skin cells retain water so they look plump and youthful. Adequate protein consumption is required to maintain constant tissue renewal, which for skin is approximately 28 days. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, and may be supplemented directly with either bovine, porcine or marine form to increase levels. In more recent years, non-animal sources of collagen have been developed. Aim for at least 1g of protein per kg body weight daily. A 125g chicken breast or salmon steak results in the body receiving approximately 25g protein. 100g whole boiled egg provides 14g protein, 100g pulses (eg. kidney beans, chickpeas) or steamed tofu provide, on average 8g protein.
Eat a low sugar diet
High intakes of added sugar in the diet leads to peaks in blood sugar and insulin levels which are involved in inflammatory processes and conditions. Glucose and fructose are two common forms of sugar (from the diet) that can bond with collagen and elastin amino acids leading to the formation of Advanced Glycation End products (AGEs). AGE’s are associated with skin stiffness, increased fragility and reduced elasticity. Aim to reduce the quantity of high glycaemic index (GI) foods which promote high blood sugar levels. Examples of high GI foods are cakes, biscuits, sweets, sugary drinks, fruit juices, alcohol and processed foods. Examples of low GI foods are meat, fish, eggs, nuts, beans, cheese, yoghurt and low sugar-containing fruit such as berries, apples and pears.
Limit caffeine and alcohol
Caffeine intake, in excess, increases the production of cortisol, a stress hormone. Cortisol inhibits the production of collagen, slowing down skin renewal and increasing skin aging. Alcohol has been shown to negatively change the skin’s barrier function and increase its permeability. Both are dehydrating to the body and result in worsened skin appearance and accelerated skin ageing.
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