Carrots and tomatoes
Carrots and tomatoes contain betacarotene – which is the precursor of vitamin A. After the body digests foods that contain betacarotene, it then converts them to vitamin A (retinol).
This chemical stimulates skin cell growth and builds collagen – a structural protein present in the skin which is essential for skin elasticity.
Betacarotene is also a good anti-ageing food because it blocks antioxidants. Antioxidants are our body’s defences against free radicals – highly-reactive molecules that may lead to premature ageing and disease.
Free radicals are a by-product of the normal usage of oxygen by the body, but they can also arise from pollution, over-exercising and sunlight exposure.
Citrus fruitsLemons and limes are good sources of vitamin C which acts as an antioxidant, helping to protect the skin against ageing. Like vitamin A, vitamin C contained in citrus fruit is essential for the production of collagen in the skin.
Lemon pith is also rich in bioflavonoids – a biologically active compound found in the rinds of citrus fruits. These help strengthen the tiny blood capillaries in the skin and prevent unattractive broken veins.
Nuts are high in essential fatty acids and when digested act as a support to those essential fatty acids already naturally present in the skin cells. Essential fatty acids help to replenish collagen, naturally moisturise the skin and help to promote skin firmness. Nuts also contain anti-inflammatory properties which helps to ensure that the skin stays smooth and unpimpled.
AvocadoAvocados are rich in the antioxidant vitamin C, helping to protect the skin against ageing. Avocados also contain essential fats, the building blocks of collagen, a structural protein contained in the skin essential for elasticity. You can try applying avocado externally too. Mashed to a pulp, avocado flesh makes a nourishing treat for dry, lack-lustre skin.
Give up smoking
There is evidence to show that smokers suffer from more lines and wrinkles than non smokers. ‘This is because carbon monoxide contained in cigarettes is known to cut off peripheral circulation – the small blood capillaries that feed the skin,’ says naturopath Laurence Kirk.
Smoking also stops the body’s absorption of vitamin C – an essential ingredient for the growth of new collagen.
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Keep out of the sun
A healthy looking tan actually indicates slightly damaged skin. The body has produced melanin, skin pigmentation, in an attempt to protect itself against ultra violet light. Exposure to ultra violet light breaks down the structure of collagen. This accelerates wrinkles and ageing.
StrawberriesThese summer fruits provide a rich source of vitamin C. Vitamin C is essential in building up the tissue of the skin by supporting collagen formation – the scaffolding that supports the skin cells.
Drink plenty of water
As we unconsciously perspire all day, the body loses water vital for the funtion of our organs. Because of this an adult should drink at least two litres of water per day. When we are dehydrated the body diverts the water available to essential organs such as the heart and liver. The skin is not given biological importance. Boosting your intake of water ensures that water, needed for skin cell formation, is diverted to the skin.
Extra virgin olive oil contains strong antioxidants which protect the skin from pollutants. It also combats the oxidising effects of the sun on our skin. Oxidation triggers more skin cells to die, leaving skin cells thinner and promoting ageing. Applying extra virgin olive oil to the skin after sun exposure may help to protect the skin against damage.
Exercise helps with skin renewal because it promotes blood flow and nutrients to the skin’s surface. Thanks to blood being pumped around the body, live skin cells lying deep in the skin are pushed up higher to the surface of the skin. This helps to create a fresher, younger appearance because they sit higher up on the skin’s surface.