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Feeding your face

Keeping your skin in top condition takes more than creams and facials.

Zoi Constantine recommends the best foods to hold back the years.

If your eyes are the window to your soul, then your skin can be a good indication of your life in general. Your habits, addictions, lifestyle, diet and overall health are all mirrored in your skin, the body's largest organ, and most obviously in your face.

There are many measures you can take to promote a healthy glow and inhibit or alter the visible signs of ageing - from dietary changes through to invasive surgical procedures. However, if the idea of a radical, quick fix solution does not appeal, try adopting simple, habitual measures to take care of your skin from the inside out.

A recent study conducted by Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, revealed that eating the correct foods can significantly reduce the signs of ageing. The research found that after testing a cross-section of Greeks, Swedes and people of Anglo-Celtic origin, those who had a Mediterranean-style diet were less prone to
wrinkling.

According to Dr Antigone Kouris-Blazos, lecturer in nutrition at Monash University: “The foods associated with less wrinkling were olive oil, legumes, vegetables and fish, especially sardines. Other foods included tea, prunes, nuts, apples and berries.”

It was found that foods high in mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, primarily found in nuts, olives and fish, were mainly responsible for the good results, and foods high in sugar and saturated fat were identified as the worst for advancing the effects of ageing.

The Mediterranean diet is characterised by an abundance of plant foods (fruits, vegetables, cereals, nuts and seeds), seasonally fresh and locally grown foods, olive oil (constituting the principal source of fat), moderate amounts of cheese and yoghurt (the principle sources of dairy products), moderate amounts of fish and poultry and low to moderate amounts of red meat and wine.With this in mind, here is a roundup of some of the best foods to include in your diet to preserve and promote smooth, youthful skin:

olives and olive oil
Olives are particularly high in polyphenols - antioxidants that are believed to help slow the ageing process by fighting the toxic effects of cell-damaging free radicals. Polyphenolic components of olive oil have been compared to traditional antioxidants used by the cosmetic and
pharmaceutical industry to prevent skin damage. However, when converted into olive oil, the polyphenol concentration is reduced and producers are now looking into creating health products based on the residual olive water, which has a particularly high concentration of the
antioxidant.

raw vegetables
Raw fruits and vegetables have an abundance of vitamins and minerals, which can help boost our immune system and leave the skin looking young and smooth. Green, leafy vegetables such as cabbage and spinach are good for dry skin as they assist skin cell-renewal and are high in iron, which helps to counter pale and lifeless complexions. They are also particularly effective as a preventative measure against ageing as they contain high quantities of the antioxidant

vitamins A, C, E, selenium and zinc.
Spinach in particular is one of those miracle foods that is packed full of an exorbitant amount of iron, folic acid, potassium and betacarotene. Carrots and tomatoes also have a high concentration of betacarotene, which is
converted into vitamin A and helps to promote collagen growth - a structural protein essential for skin elasticity. One carrot a day equals almost double the recommended daily intake of vitamin A.

Broccoli is another highly beneficial veggie and one large cooked stalk has 11/2 times your daily vitamin C requirement and 50 per cent of the daily recommended amount of vitamin A, as well as B vitamins, iron, calcium and fibre.

oranges
Oranges are most commonly known for their high vitamin C content and are regarded as beneficial for this reason. However, they are also rich in other antioxidants, which work with vitamin C to protect the body (and especially the skin) from free radicals, inhibiting the visible signs of ageing. Oranges also contain a good quantity of folic acid, potassium and calcium, which all promote healthy skin.

strawberries
Strawberries are not only delicious but are a great source of vitamin C - critical in the formation of collagen and the prevention of capillary breakage. They are also rich in
potassium, which helps regulate the body's water balance, and contain a fair amount of iron and fibre.

salmon & sardines
Oily fish, such as sardines and salmon are particularly good sources of Omega 3 essential fatty acids, which maintain the skin's water balance and prevent dry skin, as well as the fat-soluble vitamins which help to fight wrinkles.

Sardines are a particularly good source of zinc and calcium - essential for healthy skin - and salmon provides plenty of high-quality protein for healthy tissues. Like other oily fish, they are both good sources of vitamin B12 - important for the formation of red blood cells needed to nourish the skin.

tuna
Tuna is a wonderful source of iron, which is essential for a bright and healthy complexion. Fresh bluefin tuna is particularly high in Omega 3 essential fatty acids. However, the canned variety have had the fish oil drained and replaced with brine or vegetable oil and therefore lack most of the nutrients found in fresh tuna.

nuts & seeds
Nuts and seeds are concentrated sources of unsaturated oils. Cashews are fabulous for the skin and contain twice as much iron as minced beef and 50g provides about 40 per cent of the recommended daily zinc requirement for women.
Hazelnuts are one of the richest dietary sources of vitamin E, which inhibits the effects of free radicals. They are also rich in the B vitamin biotin, which promotes healthy skin and hair and vitamins B1, niacin and folic acid, which assist with healthy cell regeneration. Pumpkin and sunflower seeds are also great for your skin and high in essential fatty acids, zinc, vitamin E and other beneficial nutrients.

8-steps to healthy skin
1. Maintain a healthy diet
Follow the principles of the
Mediterranean diet.

2. Drink lots of water
It is recommended that you drink at least eight glasses a day to assist the detoxification process and ensure that your skin is hydrated.

3. Always wear sunscreen
The sun is doing damage and causing premature ageing without us even realising - just because your skin isn't visibly red and burnt doesn't mean that damage has not been done.

4. Stop smoking
Of course we are all well aware of the dangers of smoking, but one of the areas where it reeks the most havoc (visibly) is on the skin. Smoking shrinks capillaries, restricts oxygen and nutrients from getting to your cells and creates a generally dull complexion, promoting premature ageing.

5. Exercise
Regular exercise is beneficial for your skin and acts as an easy anti-ageing measure. The increase in circulation pumps nutrients to the cells and sends oxygen to your cheeks giving your skin a healthy glow.

6. Sleep
Rested skin is more receptive to creams and treatments, so try to get at least seven hours sleep to maintain that relaxed glow.

7. General well-being
Stress and unhappiness are manifested in the skin and speed up the ageing process. Make sure that you take time out for yourself and try meditation or yoga to calm the mind and get a fresh perspective on life.

8. AM and PM cleansing ritual
It is important to maintain a skin care ritual. Most experts recommend cleansing, toning and moisturising, so make sure that you complete these steps every morning and evening. Also, be wary of jumping from product to product as regular changes can affect your skin.


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