Antioxidant rich foods such as plenty of colourful vegetables may contribute to some extend to help protect your skin from oxidative stress including that from sun exposure, but should never be seen an excuse to be able to sunbath or not wear sun protection! You still have to apply an SPF 30 to 50 every singe day, especially in the summer.
Green and white teas are also very high in antioxidant polyphenols and my favourite anti-ageing super-drinks – I have several cups of them (unsweetened of course) every day. They not only have antioxidant, but also have anti-inflammatory and even mild anti-cancer properties. However, their antioxidant effects are not strong enough to skip topical sunscreens!
Can our diet help keeping our skin looking younger?
Absolutely! Lifestyle habits such as our diet and stress levels have a major impact on how well our skin ages.
Eating a diet that is high in sugar and processed carbohydrates results in premature aging of the skin, as ‘glycation’ with formation of Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs) is increased in people eating a high sugar diet. Glycation is an internal process linking sugar molecules with collagen, ultimately contributing to wrinkles and a sallow appearance of the skin.
Glycation can also be increased in people who eat a lot starchy food, which our digestive system turns into sugar as soon as we have eaten it (think of bread as ‘liquid sugar’ once you have chewed it…). Foods like this can also aggravate acne in people prone to breakouts by the way.
To help your skin look younger long-term, also make sure to consume lots of good fats, such as coconut oil (for cooking) and olive oil (for cold dishes), as olive oil is full of beneficial monounsaturated fatty acids and polyphenolic antioxidants. Intake of fats, including saturated fats, has been shown to help with skin elasticity and reduce wrinkling. However, avoid unstable polyunsaturated fats rich in omega-6 (which can be pro-inflammatory) such as vegetable oils, sunflower oil, canola oil, soya oil and corn oil.
If you want to find out more about the interaction between food and skin, read my book (available on Amazon):
‘Future Proof Your Skin! Slow down your biological clock by changing the way you eat’