William Shakespeare said the eyes are the window to the soul, and though there’s some truth to that, why give significance to just the eyes? I believe the skin is the mirror of your health.
When I worked in a clinical setting, I became adept at gauging an individual’s health by simply looking at him or her. This very basic, objective assessment was always revealing.
Dermatological changes or abnormalities such as depigmentation, an ashen pallor or excessive dryness all indicate nutrient deficiencies, and this makes sense when you think about it; the skin’s function and appearance is reliant on a sufficient and steady supply of essential nutrients.
It’s not surprising that the anti-aging skin-care products on store shelves are chock full of vitamins, carotenoids and other plant extracts — and consumer spending on anti-aging products is expected to soar to nearly $300 billion dollars by next year. Everyone is on a quest to look younger.
Multipurpose products that are natural, save time and provide more than just one benefit have become incredibly popular. Products that offer both hydration and antioxidants are great examples, but drinking water and eating leafy greens are more likely to help you achieve a youthful appearance than the slew of lotions, creams, gels and serums touting that benefit. What you put in your body, not on it, really does shine through.
This skin is the body’s largest organ, covering about 22 square feet. It works with our other organs and is responsible for regulating temperature, protecting us from germs, ridding the body of toxins, working with the nervous system to transmit signals about sensation and, most important, skin holds us together.
As we age, both intrinsic (our DNA) and extrinsic factors (the sun) take their toll. Skin becomes dull, patchy, spotted and wrinkled. Yes, dermal fillers and peels can help, but at the end of the day, what you eat wields more potent results than a laser. A strategic diet, healthy lifestyle and routine skin care can make you look years younger.
Omega-3 fatty acids are a known anti-inflammatory. They may help reduce dryness (from atopic dermatitis and psoriasis) and may even reduce the risk of skin cancer. In food, these fatty acids are found in salmon, tuna, sardines and cod. Eat 8 to 12 ounces weekly.
The antioxidant vitamins A, C and E are also powerhouse sources for skin nutrition. Vitamin A, found in carrots, squash, milk and leafy greens, helps the skin rebuild tissue; vitamin C, abundant in citrus fruits, stimulates collagen production; and vitamin E, found in olives, seeds and nuts, helps combat free radicals. Enjoy five or more servings of colorful fruit and vegetables daily.
Drinking eight glasses of water daily will keep your skin hydrated, and enjoying an active lifestyle should be a prescription from every dermatologist. A “natural glow” doesn’t come in a tube. It’s called circulation. Take every opportunity to get the blood flowing. Walk, swim, stretch, golf and be active. Exercise is a cheap and very effective weapon in the war on aging.
Tina Ruggiero, M.S., R.D., L.D., is a nutrition expert and award-winning author. Her newest book is “The Truly Healthy Family Cookbook.” Find Tina at www.TinaRuggiero.com.