What To Eat: Foods That Help Your Skin Glow

One of my first resolutions to myself for this year was to accept my failures with grace and determination. Something that I consider myself a pretty big failure at is eating healthy. Sure, I try as best I can to eat organically, and I at least attempt to choose fresh veggies whenever I have the chance - but as a 20-something adult, am I eating what I really should to take care of my body in the long run? The fried chicken sandwich I ate yesterday says otherwise (hey, there were pickles on there - they were green). So does the amount of butter that somehow goes missing from my fridge each month (I blame that on Shep).

As I've been listening to more podcasts over the past three weeks, and trying to enrich my life with intention and direction this year, I've been reading and hearing a borderline-crazy amount about health, and especially about diet. Now, I'm not overweight by any means, but I'm definitely not at the peak of my health. I don't have a membership to a gym, and I'm not that Soul Cycle girl you know. I enjoy Yoga and Pilates from time-to-time, but that's certainly not a regular occurrence (just bein' honest).

What I've learned so far on my journey through the sometimes-weird-and-obsessive health websites? Diet takes a major toll not only on your health as you get older, but also on your skin. You always hear people say, "You are what you eat," so while I will still be indulging in fried chicken whenever I need a treat, I'm trying my best to keep a better handle on what's going into my body. It's all about moderation, y'all - plus I could never live without my comfort foods. I'm from the south. Really, though.

I've written a lot about beauty serums and other outer fixes for problematic skin, but let's talk about 8 of the basic beauty foods we should all be eating that can help with making your skin more youthful and giving you the glow that we've all be searching for. Some of the below foods I already thoroughly enjoy, which is freakin' awesome progress for those resolutions I made for myself (self-high-five!).

Eat to Glow
1. Water. No-brainer. Duh. While this may seem pretty apparent to most of you out there, getting enough water for your skin to glow is kind of a hardy task. Between coffee, tea, soda, and juices, I find it really difficult sometimes to remind myself that water is more important to ingest. I'm now trying to drink at least 8 glasses a day, and I already see a huge difference in my skin! There are endless trips to the bathroom, yes, but water keeps your body healthy by flushing out toxins. Also, when your skin cells are properly hydrated, they're round and plump and beautiful; but, when you're dehydrated (which can be caused by so many things throughout the day - exercise, stress, diet, etc.), your cells are thirsty - making your skin dry and dull, and increasing the appearance of wrinkles. Which no one wants.

2. Avocados. YAY! I love avocados, so let me sing their praises here for a bit. They're rich in so many nutrients - potassium, Vitamins B, C, K, and E, as well as antioxidants and essential fatty acids. All of these things can some really awesome things for your skin: reducing inflammation; balancing out hormones (which can lead to acne); protecting against sun damage and UV rays; and increasing hydration and nutrient intake, while helps to keep toxins out of skin cells. They also lower cholesterol, promote a healthy body weight, and can reduce the risk of a bunch of diseases. Basically, you always want the added guac. It's worth the money.

3. Sweet Potatoes. I kind of don't understand people who don't like sweet potatoes - they taste like candy to me. Which is pretty freakin' cool, since they're amazing sources of Vitamin C - which helps to smooth out fine lines, acne scars, and wrinkles by naturally stimulating collagen production at the cellular level. They also have a load of beta carotene and carotenoids, which aid with water retention (keeping skin silky and soft) as well as helping the liver to flush out nasty toxins, protecting skin from UV damage, and fighting acne-causing bacteria in the skin. Sweet potatoes are also great sources of Potassium, Magnesium, and Vitamin D, which can keep our bodies and minds happy, healthy, and disease-free.

4. Greek Yogurt. This stuff is so good for you in so many different ways. The most important for your skin's health? Greek yogurt is high in a Protein rich in amino acids, which helps build new skin. As we get older, we need more of this lovely stuff in order to be able to repair damage in our body - including our skin. Greek yogurt is also an amazing food for your body's health in general because of it's Potassium and Vitamin B content, helping maintain energy levels and brain function, supporting low blood pressure, and warding off disease. And I didn't even get to mention the Calcium level (great for bone health and for watching your weight) or the Probiotics that keep your internal systems regular and balanced. I told you it was a doozy.

5. Baby Spinach. We all should've listened to Popeye when we were little. Spinach has a high level of Folate, which - first and foremost - can prevent skin cancer by helping to maintain and repair your cells at DNA-level. I think that's pretty important information to put out there given the Jersey Shore tanning after-effects. On top of that, the Vitamin A found in spinach aids cell regeneration, enhancing a youthful glow while helping skin rebuild and refresh. Vitamin A also prevents the overproduction of cells, which would lead to pore clogging (ugh, acne). Any type of leafy green you come across at the super market always contains a high water content, which rehydrates skin cells, reducing fine lines and wrinkles. Spinach, specifically, is also rich in Iron and Vitamin K - which can improve the circulation of blood, helping the skin get added oxygen, and prevent the appearance of varicose veins.

6. Almonds. Beauty experts have long hailed this nut for it's beauty-giving properties. There are so many wonderful things that almonds do to help to make your skin it's glowiest. Fatty acids found in just a handful of almonds help skin cells to better retain water; they also help you to maintain a healthy body weight, lower your cholesterol, and reduce your risk of heart disease. I haven't even mentioned the fact that they're packed to the brim with Vitamin E which helps to protect skin from sun damage from the inside-out. Almonds (along with other nuts) also have a butt-load of antioxidants which help skin cells to regenerate and fight off free radicals, reducing wrinkles and fine lines. Another added bonus outside of glowing, healthy skin? They're super-rich in Biotin, too, which can make your hair shiny and your nails strong.

7. Tomatoes. Strangely enough, canned tomatoes are said to be even better for your body than fresh tomatoes because they are richer in Lycopene - which protects your pores from getting clogged, and can also protect skin from harmful UV rays from the sun. Fresh tomatoes (should you be totally upset at the thought of BPA in canning) are also rich in Vitamin C, which serves to boost your immune system and heal scarring on your skin. Fresh tomatoes additionally reduce inflammation, and are rich in anti-oxidants that protect against free radicals aging the skin. Other health benefits: tomatoes have been proven to fight against multiple types of cancers, while supporting bone health and lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease. 

8. Sunflower Seeds. Your favorite childhood baseball game snack may surprise you with how packed it is with goodness. Sunflower seeds have an incredible amount of Selenium, which helps to tighten and smooth skin by preserving elastin, while also acting like an antioxidant (so, double duty) reducing free radicals and protecting against those harmful UV rays and sun damage. They also are a great source of Vitamin E, which works to enhance the effects of Selenium to improve skin texture even further (healing dry skin and scarring) while reducing inflammation. In general, sunflower seeds have been known to reduce cardiovascular disease, lower cholesterol, and help with stress levels because of their Magnesium levels. Bonus: the Choline found in sunflower seeds has also been linked to improved brain function, especially with memory.

I know that's a lot of information to take in at once, so I hope you'll do some reading of your own on the matter of skin health and nutrition - it's actually REALLY interesting once you do some digging! I've included a short reading list below, but the links above lead to some more science-y places that are kinda neat if I do say so myself (#beautynerd).

Which foods make your skin glow? Leave a note in the comment below or shoot us an e-mail at hippieteaparty@gmail.com.

Read more by clicking the links, or at these lovely articles:
- LaurenConrad.com
- FitnessMagazine.com
- Cosmopolitan.com
- MindBodyGreen.com
- BBCGoodFood.com
- TheHealthSite.com

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