Eating for Beautiful, Healthy Skin
Skin is the largest organ in in the human body, and serves as a protective shield against environmental chemicals, toxins, bacteria and UV radiation. We collectively spend billions of dollars each year to enhance our skin’s physical appearance. Fortunately, a health-promoting diet rich in beneficial phytochemicals is an inexpensive solution to improve the health and appearance of the skin.
Phytochemicals Protect Against Sun Damage
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S., affecting one out of every five Americans.1 UV rays produce free radicals that can damage DNA in skin cells and lead to cancer. While certain types of sunscreen and sunblock effectively block UVA and UVB rays from the sun, a nutrient dense diet can enhance our natural defenses against UV rays by combating free radical damage. For example:
- Lycopene is a carotenoid antioxidant found in red and pink fruits such as tomato, grapefruit, and papaya. Studies show that lycopene has photo-protective qualities that prevent and repair DNA damage to the skin caused by the sun.2 Read more about the UV protection from lycopene at DiseaseProof.com.
- Polyphenols are a family of antioxidants that possess anti-inflammatory and photoprotective activities that improve the overall quality of the skin. Polyphenols are found in most fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds. Rich sources include onions (flavanols), cacao, grapes, peanuts (resveratrol), apples and green tea (catechins), citrus fruits (flavanones), and berries (anthocyanidins). Studies have shown that the catechins and flavanols offer significant protection against solar-induced skin tumors and also repaired UVB skin damage and increased skin circulation, elasticity and hydration.3
Phytochemicals Give the Skin a Healthy Glow
As a society, we tend to recognize tanned skin as an indicator of health and vitality. However, darkening the skin with the sun’s rays promotes wrinkling and aging of the skin. On the other hand, food-derived carotenoids are pigment molecules that can “color” the skin with a slight yellow-orange tinge while providing protective health benefits. One interesting study found that people preferred the skin color caused by carotenoids over the skin color from a suntan, suggesting that carotenoids contribute to a healthier and younger looking complexion.4 There is a direct correlation between skin color and health: skin with an orange tinge reflects a healthy, nutrient rich diet. Read more at DiseaseProof.com.
A diet rich in phytochemicals and antioxidants provides protection against skin damage and cancer and is also an effective way to achieve healthful looking skin.
- Skin Cancer Foundation: Skin Cancer Facts. October 14, 2010]; Available from: http://www.skincancer.org/Skin-Cancer-Facts/.
- Rizwan M, Rodriguez-Blanco I, Harbottle A, et al., Tomato paste rich in lycopene protects against cutaneous photodamage in humans in vivo. Br J Dermatol, 2010.
- Heinrich U, Neukam K, Tronnier H, et al. Long-term ingestion of high flavanol cocoa provides photoprotection against UV-induced erythema and improves skin condition in women. J Nutr. 2006 Jun;136(6):1565-9.
- Stephen ID, Coetzee V, Perrett DI. Carotenoid and melanin pigment coloration affect perceived human health. Evolution and Human Behavior, 2010.