The best addition to anyone’s personal style is a fresh, healthy glow. To help you achieve it, we review in-depth information on how exercise, sleep, stress and diet influence skin, and provide a helpful how-to guide for making lifestyle changes that will work to your skin’s advantage.
When it comes to beautiful skin, it’s essential to think beyond the bathroom cabinet. While an arsenal of effective formulas is important, a clear, healthy complexion also depends on a skin-smart lifestyle. From what you put on your plate to the impact of stress and sleep, discover the lifestyle secrets behind gorgeous skin from head to toe.
A healthy diet
What does diet have to do with skin? Everything, according to leading experts, who explain that piling your plate with key nutrients, including antioxidants and healthy fats, can enhance fundamental processes in your body – including immune response and tissue repair – resulting in better health and more radiant skin.
Which foods should you toss into the cart? With countless choices staring at you as you stroll down the supermarket aisles, this can be a tricky question to answer. So, we’ve made it a bit simpler. Here are the nutrients to look for and the foods to find them in:
- Antioxidants. These key nutrients reduce damage to cells and lessen the risk of cancer while enhancing the body’s overall immunity. How do they work? Antioxidants target tiny molecules called free radicals that are a byproduct of oxygen and cause damage to the skin including the signs of aging. Keecha Harris, Dr.PH, R.D., for MSN Health & Fitness compares antioxidant action to rust. “ The main reason that a car rusts is that over time oxygen starts to wear the car’s body down, allowing for damage in the most vulnerable places. Oxygen works on your body over time, too, and causes rusting of the human sort—wrinkles, cancers and heart disease.”
Although reducing sun and cigarette exposure can reduce the presence of free radicals in your body, there’s no way to completely avoid them. But, by increasing the amount of antioxidants in your diet, you can arm your skin to win the battle against free radicals.
- Vitamin C may help skin stay looking young, according to recent scientific research. In addition to its antioxidant power of fighting free radicals, vitamin C is also essential for the production of collagen – the substance in skin that keeps it strong. Vitamin C also strengthens blood vessels to defend skin against bruising and supports good immunity, healthy eyes and gums.
Find vitamin C in peppers, papayas, citrus, mangos, broccoli, lettuce, berries and tomatoes. You can also add this ingredient to your skin care routine. SkinMedica Vitamin C Plus E Complex is a powerful serum that delivers a potent concentration of pure vitamin C to your pores for visible anti-aging benefits.
- Zinc is an essential nutrient for encouraging the repair and regeneration of cells and tissues – an essential process for healthy, ageless skin. It’s also a key player in many core chemical reactions that keep the body in optimal running condition.
You can find zinc in meat, seafood, liver, wheat bran, black-eyed peas, almonds, milk and tofu. To add zinc to your skin care regimen, reach for Molton Brown Power-Boost Zinc Anti-Fatigue Hydrator , which features this amazing mineral to help minimize the look of fatigue for a brighter, clearer complexion.
- Selenium w orks with vitamin E to protect the body against heart disease, strengthen immunity and encourage the growth and regeneration of cells.
To reap the benefits of selenium, pile your plate with Brazil nuts, fish and meats, poultry, eggs, pasta, cottage cheese and bread. Also, add ARCONA Desert Mist to your skin care routine. Blended with selenium and other age fighting ingredients, this skin protector defends your complexion against environmental damage and free radicals.
- Carotenoids are tiny compounds that help form vitamin A in the body and support strong vision, immunity, and tissue and cellular repair. It’ll also help your body fight against infections, some cancers and age-related disease.
To add carotenoids to your daily diet, reach for apricots, cantaloupes, peppers, sweet potatoes, carrots, mangoes and green vegetables. A supplement like GliSODin Skin Nutrients Advanced Skin Brightening Formula also features these powerful little compounds, boosting skin’s ability to defend against the sun and inflammation.
- Essential fatty acids. From an early age, we’re taught the importance of avoiding fatty foods like greasy burgers and ice cream. But not all fats are created equal when it comes to nutrition. While you should still skip the saturated fats found in fried foods and sweets, you should embrace the essential fatty acids (EFAs), including omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These fats are found in fish and nuts, and are important for helping your body fight off inflammation. They can even prevent breakouts, encourage hydration and defend against the signs of aging.
Now that you know what to eat, it’s also important to know what not to eat. Scientists that studied a remarkably blemish-free tribe in Papua New Guinea found one clear distinction in their daily diet: no simple carbohydrates. These carbs, found in white bread, pasta, rice, potatoes and many pastries, offer little nutritional value and cause insulin to skyrocket in the body. The subsequent sequence of chemical reactions can influence breakouts. So what did the islanders eat? Veggies, fruits and plenty of lean protein – incredible sources for the skin-nourishing antioxidants listed above.
Hitting the gym brings benefits that go beyond your waistline. In fact, working out is an important part of any smart skin care routine. Why? For starters, a bit of sweat boosts blood circulation, which plays an essential role in delivering oxygen and nutrients to cells and eliminating toxins including free radicals throughout the body. This cycle is essential for maintaining the health and appearance of your complexion, explains dermatologist and professor Ellen Marmur, MD, to WebMD.
In addition, a healthy combination of cardiovascular exercise and strength workouts can help you lose weight and tone muscles, two factors that encourage skin to appear healthier, more toned, and minimize the look of cellulite. Lastly, working out encourages your skin to produce the natural oils that help create a healthy, hydrated glow.
To optimize the benefits of exercise to your skin, remember to skip makeup during your workouts. Cosmetics can clog your pores, trapping in sweat and leading to breakouts. Always drink plenty of water and cleanse your skin thoroughly from head to toe after your workout.
Sleep is essential
Whether you’re a stay-at-home parent or a corporate climber, it’s likely that you find yourself short on sleep more often than not. While sometimes stretching out the day is simply unavoidable, researchers caution that too little sleep can have negative health consequences, including weight gain, lower immunity and a compromised complexion.
Just how does sleep affect skin? Dark circles, uneven skin tone and fine lines, for starters. Dr. Harold Lancer explains to the LA Times that collagen production peaks when you’re sleeping. So, less sleep may mean less of this skin-strengthening connective tissue leading to a subsequent loss of elasticity.
In addition, adequate sleep is a necessary requirement for a healthy immune system, which allows your body to fend off infections and systemic skin disorders including eczema.
And, while the amount of sleep you get each night is very important, Dr. Lancer reminds readers that night is the ideal time to infuse your complexion with age-fighting and skin restoring ingredients. Include a night cream or serum in your skin care regimen, and the active ingredients will work to repair skin as you sleep. And don’t forget to remove your makeup before you go to bed. Leaving it on can lead to clogged pores and unsightly blemishes.
Whether a demanding career or a house full of kids brings it on, stress affects everyone from time to time. While it’s important to keep stress under control for the sake of your mental and physical health, it’s also important for your complexion as well. Brian B. Adams, MD, associate professor and director of the Sports Dermatology Clinic at the University of Cincinnati, explains to WebMD that a decrease in stress may improve certain skin conditions including acne and eczema.
So – do your mind, body and skin a favor and seek ways to reduce the stress in your life. Join a yoga class or try aromatherapy. No matter how packed your day planner is, find a way to infuse some pampering into your daily routine. Not sure how? Check out this article.
A healthy lifestyle for better skin
When it comes to a gorgeous, radiant complexion, even the most elite skin care formulas may not be enough to achieve your goals. A nutritious diet, regular exercise, plenty of sleep and a low-stress lifestyle are all essential ingredients in the recipe for greater confidence and healthier, younger looking skin.
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