Eat your way to younger-looking skin

Oxidative stress and inflammation are major causes of skin ageing, said Dr Patana Teng-umnuay at a seminar at last year's Aesthetics Asia conference. Sun exposure is also another major cause of skin ageing, as it causes photo-ageing, DNA damage and genetic mutations.

Yet, while there are products aplenty which you can apply on your skin to protect it, there is a simpler way to prevent premature skin ageing - starting with what you put in your mouth. Paula Begoun, the beauty guru who authored the best-selling Don't Go to the Cosmetic Counter Without Me, recently recommended a variety of anti-ageing superfoods in her e-mail bulletin. Here are her recommendations:

1. Berries
Berries are full of anti-oxidants and can protect our skin from free radicals that contribute to the appearance of ageing.

Choose darker berries if you can as they are known to have high concentrations of antioxidants. Such berries include blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, raspberries, acai and strawberries. Acai berries are said to have the highest amount of antioxidants among fruits.

Fresh berries are best, says Ms Beguon.

2. Salmon
This fish is loaded with omega-3 essential fatty acids and antioxidants. These nutrients can reduce sun damage, reduce inflammation that leads to collagen breakdown, and help skin look young, plump and radiant, says Ms Beguon's bulletin.

Given the benefits of this fish, Allure Magazine Assiant Editor Jennifer Kass went as far as to recommend readers to, "skip the facial and eat fish two to three times a week".

Can't take fish? There are other alternatives, such as avocados, flaxseed and walnuts which are sources of potent essential fatty acids. Or you could consider omega-3 fish oil supplements, though you should check with your doctor first.

3. Leafy Greens, Fruits & Sweet Potatoes
Your parents and grandparents have constantly nagged at you to eat more fruits and vegetables 'because they are good for your health'. What they might not have realised is that these same foods are good for your skin as well.

Leafy greens, fruits and sweet potatoes are rich in beta carotene and they can slow the damage caused by sun exposure, says Ms Beguon.

Allure magazine's Ms Kass recommends green and orange foods, such as spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes and citrus. These humble, everyday foods contain vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant which facilitates cell turnover and aids collagen production.

In addition, carrots contain vitamin A, which, when combined with vitamin C, helps increase the skin's natural sun protection and help prevent breakouts.


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