As a Southern girl, I grew up on lots of delicious BBQ served with sides that were prepared using the richest ingredients. From the buzz in the kitchen to the laughter in the living room, I loved (and still do!) our big family gatherings. Food was prepared with love and served with pride! Unfortunately, all that love and pride often came bathed in butter, flooded in fat and surrounded by sugary ingredients. But, oh it tasted so good! Many of us have similar memories when it comes to food. The smell of fresh cookies in the oven, butter melting over that macaroni and cheese… okay, okay I’ll stop! The bottom line is that our association with food usually comes from a place of love.
Love aside; we know how damaging these types of foods are to our health. But, what are the effects on our skin? According to the Mayo Clinic, the top skin damaging foods contain refined sugars, unhealthy fats and processed carbohydrates. At a very high level, below are some effects of each on the skin:
- Refined sugars: Activates inflammation; Interrupts collagen making the skin stiff
- Unhealthy fats: Inflammation, patchiness and redness
- Processed carbohydrates: Overgrowth of bad bacteria which is linked to acne
In a nutshell, a diet that is full of refined sugars, unhealthy fats and processed carbohydrates inhibit collagen production, increases inflammation in the body which is reflected in our skin and feeds the growth of bad bacteria causing skin issues such as acne. All of this results in skin that looks dull, stressed and problematic.
To achieve your best skin, indulge in foods that are rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants help to protect and heal oxidative stress to our body. Oxidative stress can damage our skin in numerous ways including acne, hyper-pigmentation, and skin cancer and sun spots. Below are some antioxidant rich foods that we should be consuming regularly. The foods are cited by the Mayo Clinic as being the top skin-friendly foods loaded in antioxidants:
- Carrots, Kale, Sweet Potatoes, Spinach, Bell Peppers, Romaine lettuce, Tomatoes, Red Cabbage, Green Peas, Squash, Asparagus, Mushrooms, Okra and everyone's favorite (although I'm an outlier on this one)...Avocados.
Whether raw, steamed, baked or in your salads, smoothies (my personal favorite) or soups, incorporating a variety of these vegetables in your diet will go a long way in helping you to realize your best skin.