Skinless chicken, fish, beans, nuts, and other lean protein foods help repair cells that have suffered free radical damage. When protein is digested, it breaks down into amino acids, the building blocks of cells. Having plenty of amino acids available helps to speed the repair and regeneration of skin cells and collagen.
Aim for: Lean protein at every meal.
Olive oil is chock-full of oleic acid, one of the fatty acids that keep cell membranes fluid and make skin supple. Olive oil also has small amounts of other essential fatty acids that fight inflammation. Yet another benefit comes in the form of vitamin E and polyphenols, a class of antioxidants that protect skin from free radical damage.
Aim for: Choose olive oil for most of your dishes that include oil.
Grab Some Garlic
It brings a wealth of skin-protective polyphenols to your plate.
Aim for: Keep a clean garlic press at the ready and add minced garlic-especially raw-to as many of your dishes as possible. You can also eat a garlic clove, chopped into several pill-size pieces, every day.
For tiny fruits, berries pack more antioxidant punch than any other fruit or vegetable tested. Eat plenty of blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries. They work beautifully to help protect skin from the damage that leads to wrinkles. Citrus fruits, and red apples with the peel on are also rich in antioxidants.
Aim for: A cup (250 millilitres) of berries a day. Blend them into fruit smoothies, add them to breakfast cereal, and use them in pancake or muffin batter.
Thanks to its storehouse of polyphenols, green tea is high on the list of skin-friendly beverages.
Aim for: Four cups throughout the day. If you’re sensitive to caffeine, drink your last cup before three in the afternoon.
Fill up on Fish
Salmon, mackerel, and other fatty fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids do wonders for your skin. The omega-3s provide a wealth of protection by keeping cell membranes fluid.
Aim for: At least two 125-gram (4-ounce) servings of fatty fish per week.
Vegetables and Beans
Add these foods to the fish and olive oil we already mentioned, and you’re really feeding your skin the foods it needs to achieve that youthful smoothness. When researchers in Australia compared the diets and wrinkles of hundreds of people in Australia, Greece, and Sweden, they found that those who ate more vegetables, beans, fish, and olive oil had the fewest wrinkles. The researchers suspect it was a combination of monounsaturated fats, antioxidants, and lean protein that did the trick.
Aim for: Five to six 1/2-cup (125-millilitre) servings of a range of vegetables daily. Also, sprinkle beans on salads, enjoy bean-based soups, and plan a bean-based meal like chili once a week.
Water Yourself Regularly
Skin cells need a bounty of fluid to keep their membranes supple and receptive to the nutrients that keep them healthy. You should probably drink six to eight cups (1.5 to 2 litres) a day to keep your skin smooth and hydrated. If you’re sweating because of physical activity or if you’re outside in hot weather, you should drink even more.
Aim for: Women need 11 cups (2.7 litres) of fluid per day, men 15 cups, or 3.7 litres. That’s from all sources-water, juice, coffee, tea, soup and all other liquids as well as food (even meat is at least 50% water). How do you know if you’re getting enough? If you pee at least four times a day and your urine is pale yellow in colour, you’re good to go. If it’s dark or cloudy, drink more water.
Off the Menu
Cut the Coffee
Some health professionals believe that coffee contributes to wrinkles by increasing stress hormones like adrenaline and noradrenaline.
Skimp on Sugar
It’s time to kick that cake and candy bar habit. Several studies indicate that consuming sugary foods and beverages like sodas can damage collagen, the protein that supports skin.