Eating Your Way to Healthy Skin with Antioxidant Rich Fruits
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We are hard on our skin. Exposing it to the sun’s UV rays and pollution, eating a poor diet, smoking, drinking alcohol in excess…all create free radicals in the body, which damage our skin. However, we can combat some of the negative effects and help protect our body’s largest organ by eating a healthy diet.
“The skin is important for many reasons, but of great importance is its function as a vehicle for immunity,” says Rick Wilson, MD, a Cooper Clinic dermatologist. “Its immune function— the ability to fight off pre-cancers and cancers—is heavily benefitted by consuming good amounts of fruits and vegetables that are high in vitamins C and E.”
Vitamins C and E, along with lutein and lycopene, are known as antioxidants, and they can be found in many fresh, vine-ripened fruits and vegetables. These vitamins have a profound impact on skin health both when ingested and when applied to the skin, and they have been proven to lessen the impact sun damage can have on the skin.
“In addition to using sunscreen, I try to consume plenty of foods that are rich in vitamins C and E,” notes Dr. Wilson. “Thus, over the past 15 years, I have noticed that I am much less likely to sunburn. And, if I do get a sunburn, it is much less severe than it could be.” This is extremely important, as 3.5 million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in the U.S. each year.
Foods rich in vitamins C and E and other antioxidants also boost the skin’s healing and immunity functions. Some of these foods include:
At Dr. Wilson’s suggestion, for some additional insight into specific foods that are great for your skin, click here.
On the flip side, many foods, just as they are unhealthy for the body in general, can greatly inhibit the skin’s important functions. “Refined flour products, refined sugars (both brown and white), high fructose corn syrup and lipids such as saturated fat and trans fat can all negatively affect the skin,” said Dr. Wilson. “Consumption of foods that include these ingredients can cause unhealthy free radical formation.”
In addition to diet, habits such as alcohol abuse and tobacco use can greatly affect skin health. Both activities produce many free radicals, which are unstable and tend to damage both internal and skin cells. “I’ve seen people quit using alcohol and/or cigarettes, start exercising and begin eating right, and six months later they look extremely different. Their skin looks and functions differently without the inhibition and damage from alcohol and tobacco,” explains Dr. Wilson.
In fact, Dr. Wilson has noticed that for some procedures within his practice, those who are healthy and do not use alcohol or tobacco experience a normal timeframe for healing—about 10 to 14 days. However, those with diabetes, who smoke and who drink excessively take about twice as long to heal—closer to three weeks.
Skin allergies can also arise from the consumption of various foods and drinks. Itching, eczema and hives, when paired with eating or drinking something in particular, are all signs of an allergy. These symptoms can vary in severity, and can range from uncomfortable itching to severe swelling, a tightened chest and the closing of airways. Allergies can be identified and treated by a dermatologist or an allergist.
Because Americans often only consume four of the recommended 9-14 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, Dr. Wilson notes that taking vitamin and mineral supplements can assist with providing the necessary nutrients to keep the skin healthy. However, supplements can only enhance one’s diet—they cannot replace a poor diet and the damage it can cause to the body’s overall health.
For more skin care advice or to set up an appointment with Cooper Clinic Dermatology, visit cooperclinicdermatology.com or call 972.560.6360.
Article provided by Cooper Aerobics Marketing and Communications.