Diet & Skin Care
Proper skin care can be time-consuming and expensive. Drug stores offer many over-the-counter options, but it's difficult to know what will work on an individual basis. Fortunately, a balanced diet can be the skin's best defense against a variety of conditions, including acne, sun spots, age lines, dehydration and even skin cancer.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, acne cysts are caused by inflammation deep within the skin. Certain foods like good fat and antioxidants reduce inflammation and can improve acne cysts. Antioxidants protect the skin against sun spots, age lines and skin cancer by attacking free radicals that damage skin cells. Dry skin is another common skin complaint. Keeping the body hydrated by drinking at least 8 glasses of water per day can also prevent skin dryness.
Types of Food
Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are referred to as good fats. According to an article in "Fitness" magazine, "New Lifesaving Foods: The Anti-Inflammation Diet," fish, nuts, olive oil, peanut oil, canola oil and avocados contain healthy fats that reduce inflammation.
Antioxidants are found in fruits, vegetables, green tea and spices like ginger and oregano. Since different foods contain different antioxidants, it's best to eat a variety of these foods. According to the American Cancer Society, green tea contains specific antioxidants called polyphenols that can protect against skin cancer. Anyone with a family history of melanoma should consume green tea as an added precaution.
In order to consume enough good fat, the American Heart Association suggests consuming at least two servings of fish per week. Prepare the fish baked or grilled with olive oil, canola oil or peanut oil to cut back on bad fat and add even more good fat. On fish-free days, snack on a handful of sodium-free almonds or other nuts, add avocado slices to salads or sandwiches or have peanut butter toast for breakfast.
To ensure there are enough antioxidants in your diet, start with a cup of green tea for breakfast. The USDA recommends that healthy adults consume 1.5 to 2 cups of fruit and 2 to 3 cups of vegetables per day. Aim for dark fruits and vegetables, as they typically have the highest concentration of antioxidants. Herbs and spices are another easy way to add antioxidants to your diet. Instead of seasoning meats and vegetables with salt or butter use oregano, ginger or rosemary.
Sometimes we all canuse a little help consuming a balanced diet, which is why a daily multivitamin might be a good idea. Multivitamins ensure people receive adequate amounts of vitamins and antioxidants every day. Other lifestyle changes that can benefit skin include cutting back or avoiding alcohol and cigarette smoke. Alcohol causes the body and the skin to become dehydrated and can worsen inflammation. Smoke damages skin cells.
While fish offers many health benefits, it also can contain mercury and other contaminants. Pregnant women and small children should consume fish on a limited basis. Talk to an obstetrician, pediatrician or other health-care provider about how much fish to consume on an individual basis. Since supplements are not regulated by the FDA, anyone considering trying a new supplement--even something as common as a multivitamin--should talk to a health-care provider prior to use.
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