The holidays mean two things – delicious food and social gatherings. You want to look your best for all of those special events, but did you know that you can design your menus to help make that happen?
Best & Worst Foods for Skin Health - The Nice List
If you're looking to design a pre-holiday diet or holiday menu that will help you look your best, start with ingredients that make your skin look great. Fresh and natural foods are full of nutrients that help to keep skin clear, smooth, and radiant.
Veggies like spinach, romaine lettuces, collard greens, and broccoli are packed with anti-aging nutrition. They are particularly rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, which belong to a category of skin-friendly compounds known as carotenoids. These particular carotenoids are known for their ability to hydrate skin and protect it from UV damage. So, bake up some kale chips and put them out instead of the regular potato chips at your holiday gathering. Your guests will appreciate the variety, and your skin will appreciate the nutrients!
Sweet Potatoes, Squash, and Carrots
Green veggies aren't the only ones that provide you with carotenoids. Sweet potatoes, squash, and carrots, all holiday staples, are rich in the nutrient beta-carotene. By converting to Vitamin A in the body, beta-carotene can enter the skin and protect it from sun damage.
Also, if you're looking to add some variety to your holiday menu, or if you want to nourish your skin throughout the year, you can find beta-carotenes in mangoes, apricots, and cantaloupe. Perhaps a tropical theme for the big New Year's bash?
Tomatoes are also a great source of carotenoids. They contain all of the most helpful compounds from this nutrient group but are particularly rich in lycopene, which has been linked to increased skin smoothness and antioxidant activity. Tomatoes also help to protect your skin from sun damage and wrinkling, so go ahead and mix up that sauce for the spaghetti dinner!
Avocados are another one-stop shop for skin nutrients. They contain plenty of vitamins E and C, which fight against the aging effects of oxidation, which happens as a result of sun exposure and environmental stress.
Avocados are also rich in healthy fats. According to a study of 700 women, those who ate plenty of the healthy fats found in avocados tended to have more stretch and spring in their skin. Translation: these fats make you look younger!
Nuts and Seeds
Do you have one of those households that always puts out a dish of nuts for holiday guests? Good news – those walnuts that you love to nosh on are also keeping your skin healthy.
WALNUTS - THE BENEFITS
Walnuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acid, which helps to reduce skin inflammation. If you struggle with acne, this is very good news!
Those same walnuts also help to provide the skin with vitamin E, vitamin C, and selenium, the latter of which fights both acne and wrinkles by reducing skin inflammation. Selenium also works with vitamin E to strengthen cell membranes and protect against damage, pigmentation effects, and inflammation from UV exposure.
THE WHOLE NUT AND SEED FAMILY
Don't feel like you have to limit yourself to walnuts – other types of nuts and seeds are rich in skin-protecting nutrients. A single Brazil nut gives you almost double your needed daily dose of selenium, and sunflower seeds are high in the same nutrient. And as an added bonus, sunflower seeds double as a provider of the UV-fighting vitamin E!
These are only some of the delicious nuts and seeds out there. Get creative with your mixed nuts bowl this year and give a gift to your skin!
Want to stand out at the potluck with a delicious seafood dish? Consider basing your recipe on an oily fish such as salmon, herring, or mackerel. These are all rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential elements in keeping skin hydrated, flexible, and thick.
Oily fish also helps to protect you against sun damage by providing vitamin E, which acts as an antioxidant, and zinc, which regulates inflammation. If you struggle with breakouts, this is particularly good news. Multiple studies have shown that increased intake of antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the severity of acne
Foods to Avoid
Your holiday plate may include plenty of skin-boosting nutrients, but not all of your favorites are skin-friendly. Here are a couple to avoid, if you can gather the self-control.
If you are worried about showing up to the holiday party with pimples, you may need to think twice about that tall glass of eggnog. Studies show that people who consume a lot of dairy have a higher risk of acne, possibly because of the hormones that naturally occur in the bodies of pregnant cows. An alternative theory is that milk contains compounds that are related to testosterone, a hormone that can stimulate oil production.
Whatever the reason, the correlation between dairy and acne appears to depend on an individual person's system, so feel free to try it out by reducing your milk product intake for a while. If it helps, stay away from that eggnog!
Sugar and Refined Carbohydrates
Multiple studies have revealed that when people eat a lot of sugar, their skin ages faster. To boil the science down to its most basic levels, sugar accelerates the shortening of the telomeres, which cap the ends of chromosomes and become shorter as a person ages. Because sugar makes this happen faster, they make a person look older sooner.
You don't have to cut sugar and refined carbs out of your holiday diet completely, but do practice moderation as much as you can. And definitely don't make indulgence a habit. Your future self will be grateful for your sacrifice.
Alcohol is a killer for your skin. First, because it dilates the blood vessels, it causes your skin to flush. This might be mildly embarrassing if anything in the short term but, over time, can cause permanent vessel dilation in the form of spider veins. These permanently dilated blood vessels can also leak fluid into the skin, which makes the face look puffy.
Beyond that, alcohol is a diuretic, which means it causes your body to lose water more quickly. It even gets in the way of your kidneys' ability to reclaim water. The result? Alcohol actively dehydrates your body and makes your skin dry out. Dry skin looks dull and quite the opposite of youthful. Plus, dryness makes skin more prone to eczema and general itchiness.
You certainly don't have to swear off alcohol entirely this holiday season. A glass of red wine once in a while can even help you to maintain that youthful appearance since it is rich in the antioxidant resveratrol. But do enjoy your adult beverages in moderation, for the sake of your overall health as well as for your skin.
Now that you're in on some of the best and worst foods for skin health, don't forget about the non-dietary elements of your skincare regimen. Light therapy is a great way to help your skin look great for those holiday get-togethers. Try QuasarMD’s red light devices for younger-looking skin or blue light devices to eliminate acne. Or both!