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Healthy habits to prevent skin aging

By: By Judy Davie - Written originally for Sydney Markets

Wrinkles may be the inevitable lines of life and character however that unmistakable glow and radiance which skincare companies like to promote definitely shines from within; you can buy it, but not from the beauty counter.

Your local greengrocer with its full range of fresh produce, is a health and beauty store rolled into one. Not only does eating fresh produce provide numerous health benefits, it can also help your skin glow with a vibrancy unmatched by anything you can achieve from a jar. In truth good health and good skin go hand in hand and rarely do you get one without the other.

The skin is made up of three main layers, the epidermis, dermis and subcutaneous tissue. The epidermis is the outer layer consisting of a thin layer of cells which are continually being shed and replenished. It's here where skin holds and retains moisture. Drinking around 8 glasses of fresh water each day allows protective nutrients to reach the skin's surface and helps maintain a fresh, supple, appearance.

The middle layer, the dermis, is responsible for the skin's structural integrity, elasticity and resilience. It's here where wrinkles start to form. Amongst other things, the dermis is made up of a tight woven network of skin proteins called collagen and elastin which give the skin its structure and resilience. As we age our dermis loses the ability to replenish these protein cells causing skin to sag and lose its ability to bounce back. Cellular repair and replenishment requires protein, vitamins and minerals and a diet that is rich in protein, from lean cuts of meat, chicken, fish and eggs will help renew collagen and elastin tissue. Collagen synthesis is further enabled by vitamin C, obtained by eating plenty of citrus fruit, raw salads, fresh berries, cabbage and other green veggies. The mineral zinc also promotes cellular growth and repair and while one of the best sources of zinc is oysters, it can also be obtained from egg yolk, pumpkin and sesame seeds, kidney beans, spinach, watermelon seeds, garlic and chickpeas.

Fat, once taboo to anyone watching their weight, is now a welcome inclusion as part of a healthy diet and higher intakes of dietary fats from plants foods such as avocado, coconut, nuts, seeds, olives, olive oil and oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines targets the subcutaneous layer of the skin. The plant fats will help maintain skin elasticity and keep it looking plump while oily fish, a rich source of Omega 3 fats, has the added benefit of reducing inflammation. Combine these good fats with antioxidant rich yellow and orange vegetables such as rockmelon, carrots, pumpkin, and capsicum and you boost the anti-aging power even more. The naturally occurring group of compounds found in the pigment of orange and yellow produce are called carotenoids, antioxidants which protect the skin from oxidative and inflammatory damage caused by exposure to the sun and environmental pollution. The more carotenoid-rich produce we eat the more antioxidants our skin can store to protect against oxidative stress and accelerated ageing.

Three final words on aging that have nothing to do with food - sunlight, smoking and alcohol: If you want to preserve your skin and keep it youthful you must try to stay out of it, stop it and don't do too much of it.


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