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Mary Robertson, registered nutritionist and natural health practitioner at Doctors Naturae in Burlington, Ontario, reveals the top foods—rich in essential fatty acids, antioxidants and vitamin A—that are the secrets to healthy skin.
Get healthy skin with ... Omega fatty acids
Wild salmon, walnuts and flax seeds; while these foods seem unrelated, they are all rich in essential fatty acids — a major key to great skin. “Every single cell in your body requires a good fat so that nutrients can come in and toxins go out,” says Robertson. Our cell membranes hold on to water, so the stronger they are, the better those cells can retain moisture—resulting in plumper, younger looking skin.
The best-known essential fatty acids are omega 3 and omega 6, which must be in balance for good skin health. “Omega 6 is available in a wider variety of foods, so we tend to be more deficient in omega 3. You really want to maintain a healthy ratio of both in your diet,” says Robertson. Omega 3 can be found in foods like walnuts, wild salmon, flax and pumpkin seeds or leafy green vegetables. Essential fatty acids also offer protection from the inflammatory process that causes acne and work to repair the skin. Taking an omega-3 fish oil supplement is an easy way to get your essential fatty acids and keep skin lubricated and looking radiant.
Get healthy skin with ... Antioxidants
“We need to get plenty of antioxidants through the foods that we consume for extra protection against environmental aggressors,” says Robertson. Studies have shown that fruits with dark pigmentation like blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and plums have the highest total antioxidant capacity of any food—and the skin benefits are plentiful. For starters, they help the body manufacture collagen, which makes the skin look smooth and supple. Berries (especially blueberries) are loaded with antioxidant compounds that effectively neutralize damaging free radicals (that lead to skin cell damage and premature aging) caused by excessive UV exposure, according to Robertson. “You can start your day off right by blending some fresh berries in a smoothie or adding them on top of some low-fat yogurt,” she says.
Green tea is also packed with antioxidants and contains polyphenols, which give extra protection against sun exposure and lowers the risk of skin cancer. For those on the go, Robertson suggests taking a high-potency multivitamin to ensure that the accurate daily intake of antioxidants is being met.
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Eat these two foods on the next page and glowing skin will be yours ... Get healthy skin with … Low-fat organic yogurt
Nutrition experts say that the health of our skin cells is highly dependent on dietary vitamin A. Many of us don’t realize that one of the best places to get true vitamin A is through low-fat organic dairy products. “Whether you have dry skin or problems with acne, vitamin A foods are the first place you want to go. Beta carotene foods like carrots and sweet potatoes are a good source of vitamin A, but certain people have trouble converting it into true vitamin A,” says Robertson. “That’s why low-fat organic dairy foods or almond milk fortified with true vitamin A are such an important part of our diets.” The good bacteria found in yogurt will help with intestinal health, which in turn impacts healthy-looking skin.
Get healthy skin with … Water
Pure, clean water plays a vital role in proper hydration, keeping the body healthy and skin looking clear. “The more liquids we have in our bodies, the more nutrients can be delivered to our cells and the more toxins can be moved out,” says Robertson. “To get the right amount of water on a daily basis you should be drinking half your body weight in ounces.” She also says to watch out for dehydrators like coffee and alcohol. “For every cup of coffee, you diminsh two glasses of water from your body. It’s important to replenish that and keep hydrated.”
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