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29 January 2015

How to Eat Your Way to Clear Skin: Diet & Tips

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In the quest for healthier skin, the consumption of nutritious, low-calorie superfoods is the first step many of us implement into our routines. Forget the superfoods you know about, though. Here are some surprising skin superfoods that have been shyly lingering below the radar – until now.

The idea of superfoods for healthier skin is by no means a new idea. There are quite a few of these skin clearing foods that have gained attention for their promise to help you achieve a glowing, more beautiful complexion. The ones you might have heard that can assist with skin issues include omega-3 foods or zinc-rich foods, to mention just two. Yes, these nutrients are important, but there are other, lesser-known superfoods that should also be making your grocery shopping list.

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Cantaloupe

This melon is usually overshadowed by more famous fruits and vegetables: squash, cucumber and pumpkin to name a few. But just one serving of cantaloupe can help you achieve a more glowing complexion. Cantaloupe keeps your skin looking refreshed, which is important if you have dull skin. Its brightening benefit is thanks to cantaloupe’s high amount of Vitamin A that aids in cell growth – just one cup contains nearly 6000 international units of Vitamin A, which is more than your daily requirements. Better cell growth means fresh skin cells can reach the surface of your skin, giving you a youthful and clear complexion.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. You should view cantaloupe as your skin’s medicine cabinet since research has found that it contains anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial qualities, therefore able to fight off infections that can strike your skin. An interesting study found that when cantaloupe was coated with salmonella strains, the fruit did not change in appearance or color. In fact, the cantaloupe was able to decontaminate itself from the bacteria thanks to its antimicrobial coating.

Bone Broth

Bone broth has recently received attention in the media due to how this ancient tradition offers various nutrients. It’s made by boiling bones, such as those from fish, beef or poultry, until they disintegrate into a broth. One of the most important ways in which this broth can help your skin is because it contains collagen. While the broth simmers, the bones and ligaments start to leak healing collagen and other ingredients into the water. By indulging in bone broth you’re really eating collagen your skin needs to remain young and firm.

Bone broth can also help reduce the appearance of cellulite. Experts claim that since cellulite stems from a decrease in connective tissue, consuming collagen can contribute to tightening these tissues, which results in smoother, elasticated skin. As we get older, our bodies don’t manage to repair connective tissue as well as when we were younger, so eating collagen-rich bone broth can help the process of renewal in the body.

Some experts are skeptical about collagen reaching and benefiting the skin through consumption, but here’s a study that shows it can be achieved. In the animal study, when mice were fed gelatin (protein produced when bones, ligaments and tendons are boiled) and exposed to UV light, they did not experience any loss of collagen – in fact, their collagen quantities increased by 17 percent.

Matcha

In the duel between green tea and matcha (which is a powdered form of green tea), matcha wins. It has more catechins (antioxidants) than green tea and greater levels of EGCG (a specific type of catechin) – up to three times more, in fact! EGCG is important for skin as it revives dead skin cells. When skin cells were studied so that their growth cycles could be monitored, it was found that when they were exposed to EGCG the dying cells were reenergized.

Skin cells have a lifespan of approximately 28 days. Within 20 days of this cycle, they persist on the surface layer of skin and basically wait to die. When these cells are exposed to EGCG, however, they begin dividing again, producing more energy and DNA. This is powerful news for healing a variety of skin conditions, such as wounds, psoriasis, and scar tissue.

Seaweed

If you enjoy seaweed in your sushi every now and then, you might want to make this form of algae a regular occurrence in your diet because it’s great for your skin. Fucoidan, found in brown algae, is especially beneficial because it contains anti-inflammatory qualities. Animal studies have found that fucoidan can decrease atopic dermatitis symptoms just as well as dexamethasone, which is a steroid medicine often prescribed for the skin problem.

Even if you don’t suffer from inflammatory skin conditions, fucoidan can help you achieve beautiful skin that’s more protected from sun damage. UV rays are a major cause of photoaging and skin cancer because exposure to them increases the activity of enzymes called elastase, which break elastin and cause the skin to loosen. Research has found that UV harm to skin was decreased by the presence of bladderwrack seaweed (which contains fucoidan). This is because fucoidan helps to prevent elastase activity, protecting your skin against the hot sun.

Mangosteen

Although the name sounds similar and they’re also a fruit, mangosteens are not linked to mangos. Mangosteens originate from tropical evergreen trees in Indonesia. When you peel them to enjoy them, don’t throw away their rinds as they can be beneficial to keeping skin free of infection and irritation. The power lies most prominently in mature fruit rind because it displays the most antibacterial qualities.

The rind of mature fruit also contains xanthones, organic compounds that fight free radicals and can therefore prevent damage to skin from environmental factors. One of mangosteen’s most potent xanthones is called alpha-mangostin, and it is much more capable of searching for and killing free radicals than other antioxidants, such as the carotenoids found in fruits such as avocados.

If you can’t find mangosteens in the United States, there are mangosteen products containing the juice from these fruits that also contain the rind’s beneficial xanthones.

Neem Leaves

Blueberries are a superfood often hailed for their amazing quantity of antioxidants that serve various health-boosting benefits, but they are being dethroned by this next superfood. Neem leaves, which come from the Neem tree in Southeast Asia, contain antioxidants that are 100 times more powerful than those found in blueberries!

This medicinal herb serves to soothe and clear acne on the skin, thanks to their quercetin compound which improves the body’s ability to fight inflammation. This is beneficial if you have acne breakouts that get infected or feel itchy because quercetin helps to cool and alleviate the irritation. You can also apply these leaves topically as a face mask to help you get rid of blemishes.

Maca

Maca is a root vegetable that hails from the Andes. It can be transformed into a powder but you can also eat it as a vegetable, such as by cooking it in the same way as you do your other veggies. Maca is an adaptogen, meaning that it improves your adrenal system’s health. The adrenal system is important because it controls how your body’s hormones respond to stress.

Lifestyle factors such as stress and tiredness can be revealed on your skin, such as by making you look older. This is thanks to the release of the stress hormone cortisol that breaks down the skin’s collagen. Maca is a natural way to bring balance to your hormones so that they can work more efficiently, helping to strengthen your skin in the process. It also balances the body’s external and internal stress, which prevents fatigue and other stress-related symptoms that flare up in the body.

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Superfood Rules for Super Skin

When eating superfoods to clear your skin, you should also follow some healthy eating habits. One of these is not eating at least two hours before hitting the sack. This enables better digestion. By improving your digestion, you enable nutrients to get more efficiently absorbed by the body, which gives you greater health and more beautiful skin, too.

Eat foods rich in antioxidants so that you can fight free radicals that lead to illness and signs of aging – but don’t just do this once a day! You actually need to eat antioxidant-rich foods at every meal because antioxidants only stay active for a few hours. Pile these superfoods into every snack and meal you eat throughout the day to reap the most benefits from them. 

Be creative in how you bring superfoods into your diet. If you can’t add them as a meal ingredient, sprinkle superfoods such as maca powder or matcha tea on your nutritious morning smoothies, or make a cantaloupe granita which is wonderfully refreshing in the summer.

By being more aware of what surprising skin superfoods are out there and adding them to your diet, you can start eating your way to clearer and more gorgeous skin.

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