Eat Your Way to Good Skin04.01.11
What usually comes to mind when you think of the word “diet?” Some common responses include deprivation, starvation, temptation, success and or even failure. But one answer you don’t hear often is great skin. Eating a balanced diet composed mostly of whole foods will help you not only fit into your skinny jeans but can also improve your complexion. But which diets are the best for youthful and beautiful looking skin? Cotton Candy got the answers. We’ve recruited Registered Dietitian Amy Shapiro, founder of Real Nutrition NYC. She spells out these five popular diets that’ll benefit not only your health but your skin too.
The Mediterranean mainly focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, olive oil and a moderate amount of seafood. Poultry, eggs and dairy foods are eaten less often and sweets and other meats are eaten even less. So what is it about this diet that will give you radiant skin? The antioxidants found in the fruits and veggies, the heart healthy fat found in olive oil and the omega 3 essential fatty acids from the seafood. Antioxidants help repair damage to your body’s tissues from environmental factors and can even cure and prevent sun damage. But still remember to put on sunscreen. While olive oil aids in the absorption of fat soluble antioxidants (vitamins A & D) and the omega 3 fatty acids, keep your skin hydrated, prevents eczema and psoriasis and can provides additional UV protection.
A vegan diet eliminates all animal products so ideally the main focus is on antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables along with plant proteins and whole grains. If followed in this way, the benefits are consistent with those of a Mediterranean diet just make sure you are getting omega 3 fatty acids from a source other than seafood such as flaxseeds/flaxseed oil, walnuts or canola oil. By eliminating animal products from your diet, you decrease the intake of hormones and foods that may cause inflammation ultimately lessening the incidence of acne, eczema and psoriasis. Beware of overdoing it with breads and pastas – a frequent pitfall of veganism. Although meat free, if consumed in excess you may be doing more harm than good since excess sugars, the end product of carbohydrates, can have an aging effect on your skin – not to mention your waistline.
Raw Food Diet
Going “raw” means you refrain from heating foods above 105 degrees to preserve the integrity of the enzymes and proteins in those foods. Although raw foodists do eat meat or fish, it is in limited portions. So again, the skin-protective benefits of this diet come from antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables, heart healthy fats found in seeds, nuts and oils and fiber from whole grains & legumes. Are you starting to see a pattern here? Fiber helps us to regularly eliminate waste and along with it toxins. This is a very pure diet. The cleaner you eat, the better your skin will look.
Low Fat Diet
Fat free was so 1990s and can cause dry skin, brittle nails and hair loss. What’s attractive about that, right? Well LOW fat – never recommend less than 20% – is another story. And when paired with a diet rich in fruits and veggies, (there they are again) fruits and vegetables can prevent the occurrence of melanomas. Research shows a diet too high in fat and carbohydrates can accelerate the aging process. So cut fat, but not too much, to maintain a youthful glow.
Protein is necessary for collagen synthesis, which will help thicken and restore the skin while preventing wrinkles and signs of aging. (More steak please!) It also repairs and rejuvenates hair and skin where as a protein deficiency can make skin appear dry, dull and unhealthy. So pair your protein with those antioxidant rich fruits and veggies to get a double dose of skin protection and wrinkle prevention.
Written by: Amy Shapiro MS, RD
Shapiro is the founder and director of Real Nutrition NYC, a Manhattan-based private practice dedicated to healthfully and successfully guiding clients to their optimal nutrition, weight, and overall wellness. She has cultivated a local and national clientele for her lifestyle-minded approach, which integrates realistic food plans, smart eating habits, and active living based on the individual’s daily routine. She believes that through encouragement, education and the right tricks of the trade, anyone can achieve their nutritional goals while still enjoying the foods and flavors they crave.