12 Natural Anti-Aging Foods for Glowing Skin
Though they say don’t judge a book by its cover, our skin is what forms our exterior, and as much as we don’t like to accept it, all of us want to look youthful and push the inevitable aging to the sidelines.
Our skin forming our exterior takes in a lot of abrasions from the environment around it. Due to this, dermatologists recommend using anti-aging products from as early as the 20s, the logic being if the base is right from the beginning, it causes less damage later on.
Unfortunately, we cannot change or stop the natural aging process that happens with time, and though some people look younger for their age, it is mostly to do with their genes. Medically, this kind of natural aging is referred to as intrinsic aging.
The protection of our skin from aging due to lifestyle choices and environmental changes, also known as extrinsic aging, is what we can converge on realistically. This means focusing on the best foods for skin repair to make it look visibly youthful or prolong the extrinsic aging. Read along to make this journey of finding the best anti-aging foods for younger-looking skin easier.
Role of diet in skin aging
As the quote goes, ‘we are what we eat’; nutrition and diet affect a person’s body and organs, especially the skin, which is the largest organ in our human body. Anti-aging foods for the skin make it easier for the skin to look fuller, glowing, and youthful. It’s a popular myth that clean eating involves bland, tasteless foods, and you would be surprised to know that the best anti-aging foods for the skin are rich in flavours and nutritious.
Before going to the details of anti-aging foods for the skin, let’s first understand the various factors that affect our skin. Chronological aging occurs with internal factors: genes, hormonal changes, endocrine metabolism, and photo-aging occurs with external factors: pollution and harmful UV rays of the sun, and improper nutritional levels.
Off the many anti-aging products available for the skin, external application basically focuses on protecting the skin from UV rays’ harmful effects from the sun. The next doable action to avoid the skin’s photo-aging by ensuring your diet includes anti-aging foods for the skin.
Below are some of the anti-aging foods for the skin that can be part of your diet plan for glowing skin:
1. Berries: The bioactive compounds in berries like strawberries, blueberries, cherries, raspberries, and blackberries are rich in antioxidants as anthocyanins, resveratrol, and ellagic acid, which are responsible for skin-related benefits. These antioxidants also protect the skin from enzymes that break down collagen in sun-damaged skin, making it an ideal addition to a nutrition diet for skin glow. Berries are loaded with vitamin C, which also helps to lighten the dark spots on your skin.
2. Papaya: The papaya’s enzyme papain makes it an all-time favourite in skincare routine for anti-aging foods for the skin. A study conducted in 2015 states that wrinkling and skin damage occur due to excessive free radical activity, which lycopene in papaya helps fight. Papaya may also help to improve the skin elasticity making your skin remain smooth. With these properties, it’s understandably among the best anti-aging foods for younger-looking skin. (Try this Papaya Parfait with Coconut Cream | Nutrition by Lovneet)
3. Avocado: Avocado is a superfood that has gained popularity in India in recent years. It is rich in omega-6 fatty acids and vitamin B, K, E, A, and B that helps to shed the dead skin cells and increase collagen. Avocado also has compounds that indirectly protect the skin from sun damage, thereby being among the perfect anti-aging foods for the skin. (Try this Mexican Avocado Bean Salad | Nutrition by Lovneet)
4. Citrus Fruits: Being rich in vitamin C, citrus fruits from the typical lemon, lime, and oranges to grapefruit and yuzu are the best anti-aging foods for beautiful skin. Vitamin C in citrus helps to boost collagen and repair and rejuvenate the skin while maintaining its elasticity.
5. Yogurt: One of the best anti-aging foods for the skin, Yoghurt has probiotics that help to cultivate the good bacteria in your gut. Some studies suggested that intestinal putrefaction could be among the many factors which contributed to aging. The lactic acid in yogurt helps to diminish fine lines by shrinking and tightening pores. Rich in riboflavin or vitamin B12, yogurt keeps the skin glowing and hydrated while aiding in cell regeneration and growth. Greek yogurt is said to the best of the lot, with two and a half times protein in regular yogurt.
6. Salmon: Rich in fish oil Omega-3 fatty acid, vitamin B6, B12, and D, having salmon 2–3 times a week is the best anti-aging foods for beautiful skin. The nutrients in salmon help decrease clogged pores, remove fine lines and wrinkles and give naturally moisturized glowing skin. It’s also observed that women with low protein intake had wrinkled appearance due to this deficiency. Proteins from salmon provide a building block of collagen, which is essential for glowing skin.
7. Green leafy vegetables: Vegetables like broccoli and spinach packed with vitamin C and A are quintessential anti-aging foods for the skin to neutralize harmful free radicals and keep wrinkles and fine lines away. The chlorophyll in green leafy vegetables has increased collagen in the skin, which again contributes to being part of anti-aging foods for the skin.
8. Brahmi: Brahmi contains amino acids, beta carotene, fatty acids, and numerous potent phytochemicals. These compounds help the body naturally produce collagen proteins and restore youthfulness. Also, it helps diminish fine lines, spots , and signs of photo-aging by improving tissue repair and cell renewal. What propels it to be a part of anti-aging foods for the skin are the carotenoids, flavonoids, and plant polyphenols present, which fight free radicals that could potentially damage skin cells.
9. Seeds and Nuts: Most seeds and nuts are loaded with Vitamin E, an essential compound to keep your skin glowing and healthy. Almonds contribute towards reducing inflammation, which is the primary reason for skin to age prematurely. Consuming a handful of seeds and nuts as snacks or adding them to cereals as breakfast elevates it from a regular snack to a meal filled with anti-aging foods for the skin. (Try this Flax Seeds Chutney | Nutrition by Lovneet)
10. Eggs: Apart from being packed with proteins, which are also essential for the healing and growth of facial tissues, eggs contain selenium, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, and biotin, needed for cellular fat production and repair damaged skin. Additionally, the riboflavin, magnesium, and potassium in egg whites are wrinkle weapon that promotes hydrated, youthful, wrinkle-free skin. Undoubtedly, eggs are one of the top 10 anti-aging foods for the skin.
11. Tomatoes: Tomatoes are superfoods which is a must-have in a nutrition diet for skin glow. Lycopene, a carotenoid present in tomatoes, helps the skin fight against sun damage and works twice as hard to boost collagen. Packed with Vitamin C, tomatoes deserve a place in the diet of anyone looking for anti-aging foods for the skin.
12. Bell Peppers: The betacarotene in bell peppers, converted by our organs to vitamin A, promotes cell turnover, which makes them perfect anti-aging foods for the skin. Retinol, a popular anti-aging ingredient, is a derivative of vitamin A that makes wrinkles visibly less. Bell peppers have vitamin C in them, which stimulates collagen growth. Betacarotene also doubles up as a natural sunscreen.
The essential nutrients in anti-aging foods for the skin
Vitamin C: Ascorbic acid or vitamin C is an essential antioxidant that is not naturally synthesized by our body and needs sufficient dietary intake. Vitamin C is naturally available in certain anti-aging foods for the skin, and it works by neutralizing free radicals that cause oxidative stress and premature aging to the skin. It also helps in producing collagen and reduces sun damage.
Vitamin B: Vitamin B12 aids in cell regeneration and helps lighten spots. It aids with the overall health of your skin, keeping it youthful and nourished for longer. Riboflavin or Vitamin B2 aids in collagen maintenance and cell turnover. Niacin or Vitamin B3 is a powerhouse for skin-conditioning and treats multiple skin conditions like hyperpigmentation, sun-damaged skin, and acne. Vitamin B3 is also a common ingredient in skincare products for delaying fine lines and wrinkles. Vitamin B7 or Biotin metabolizes fatty acids and protects cells resulting in hydrated and plump skin.
Vitamin A: Vitamin A prevents breakouts by supporting the skin’s immune system and promotes natural moisturizing. In other words, it helps to protect the skin from dryness and helps maintain healthy dermis and epidermis, which are the top two layers of your skin.
Vitamin E: Vitamin E has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which work as a ‘free-radical scavenger’. It’s most potent when combined with Vitamin C and protects the skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Vitamin E comprises eight fat-soluble compounds, alpha-tocopherol being the prominent one that helps prevent cell damage.
Vitamin D: Studies suggest that skin with vitamin D deficiency wears out faster when exposed to the sun. Sun exposure can be attributed as the primary contributor to pigmentation and fine lines, so having sufficient vitamin D can avoid premature signs of aging on your skin.
Zinc: Zinc helps prevent wrinkle formation at the molecular level by strengthening the cell membranes and bringing youthful new cells to the surface. It stimulates antioxidant and immune defence against the aging of the skin.
Collagen: The term collagen originates from the Greek word ‘kolla’, which means glue. It is a fibrous protein that helps skin cells to stick or adhere to each other while enhancing skin elasticity and strength and preventing sagging.
What causes skin aging?
Along with following a nutrition and diet plan for glowing skin, one needs to understand that lifestyle plays a crucial part in delaying the skin’s aging. You might need to consider avoiding the below habits along with eating anti-aging foods for the skin:
- Smoking: Nicotine and other toxins in cigarettes cause premature aging by reducing the oxygen flow to skin cells and thereby depriving essential nutrients to reach the skin cells. In addition to that, cigarette smoke exposes the skin to oxidative stress contributing directly to wrinkles and other skin aging signs.
- Caffeine: Caffeine affects sleep, and poor sleep gives increased aging signs like dark circles, wrinkles, and fine lines. Like alcohol, caffeine is also a dehydrator that works against favourable conditions for healthy skin.
- Sweets: Studies suggest that sugar overload can kickstart the glycation process, which means excess sugar molecules combine with proteins, damaging your skin’s collagen. Research links sugar and baked goods to skin thickness ( Read here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7146365/)
- Alcohol: A healthy liver expels the toxins that could affect your skin naturally from your body. Alcohol disrupts your liver’s regular functioning and even causes dehydration, all of which accelerates the symptoms of aging.
- Trans fat: Excessive junk and processed foods in diet could have unhealthy trans fat, making your skin vulnerable to UV rays. Trans fat also promotes inflammation which also has a negative impact on collagen production.
- Sodium: Most canned foods have salt, and it’s relatively easy to have excessive sodium in the diet, in addition to what we regularly add to home cooked meals. Too much salt in your diet can make your body retain more water than needed, making you look puffy.
- Sun exposure: Tanning beds and exposure to direct sunlight can damage the pigment melanin of your skin, making it more susceptible to skin burn, premature aging and reduced elasticity. Sunlight also caused pigmentation or ‘liver spots’ on hands, face, and other sun-exposed areas.
Anti-aging foods for skin with recipes
- Breakfast smoothies: Make healthy smoothie bowls with a combination of power-packed anti-aging foods for the skin such as cucumber, papaya, and pumpkin seeds or watermelon berries and chia seeds. (Also try this Chilled Cucumber and Aloe Soup)
- Post-workout drinks: Rather than depending on store-bought energy drinks, make your own juice by blending cucumber and tomato with a dash of herbs of your choice for flavour. You could also add variations like pomegranate with sweet lime juice. (Also try Pomegranate Parfait with Almond Cream | Nutrition by Lovneet)
- Flavoured yogurt: Make a healthy snack of flavoured yogurt but blending chia seeds with banana and whisking in a cup of yogurt, which is considered among the top anti-aging foods for the skin. You can add any seeds or nuts or berries of your choice for variation, especially superfoods like almonds and strawberries.
- Salads & chaats: For a more Indian flavour, try snacking on healthier versions of sweet potato chaat with roasted walnuts or whip up a salad of broccoli with roasted sesame seeds. (Find more sweet potato recipes here)
5 De-stressing foods for youthful skin
1. Ashwagandha: It is best known for stress-lowering effects. Ashwagandha tea before bedtime is a good idea to calm your nerves and prepare for good sleep. This medicinal herb is known to help lower the levels of cortisol, which is popularly known as the stress hormone.
2. Almonds: Packed with vitamin B2, vitamin E, magnesium, and zinc, almonds work as stress relievers. These aid in the production of serotonin, the happy hormone.
3. A2 Milk: It comes from grass-fed cows and offers higher amounts of beneficial antioxidants, such as vitamin E and beta carotene, which help reduce inflammation and fight oxidative stress.
4. Chamomile tea: A flower that is synonymous with calm and serenity, chamomile tea helps to naturally increase serotonin and melatonin levels in the body, leaving you feeling relaxed.
5. Banana: The B-vitamins in banana such as folate and vitamin B6 plays a vital role in the production of serotonin, which lifts up your mood and reduces anxiety.
In a nutshell:
What you eat is what you are — the adage holds true for healthy skin. When it comes to glowing, youthful skin, your diet plays a detrimental role. The more nutrient-rich diet you use, the healthier your skin looks. A balanced diet ensures that your skin gets all the right nutrients, which help your skin cells to repair, rejuvenate and replenish.
A healthy diet keeps the skin well hydrated too, which further helps smoothen the early signs of aging like fine lines and dryness. However, if you are facing any skin issues, it is best advised to seek expert help. The dermatologist or a nutritionist may help you identify the causes of your skin issue and curate a diet plan accordingly.