Eat Your Way to Beautiful: How to Nourish Your Body From Within

Sure, moisturizers and serums provide skin-deep benefits. But good nutrition goes much deeper – and is much more effective for maintaining your appearance over the long haul, says Halle Saperstein, R.D., a clinical dietitian at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital. “Food plays an active role in helping you look good,” she says. “You really need to nourish your insides, and that will show through in what people see.”

Want to try an “inside-out” makeover? Here’s how.

Glowing Skin

Care for your largest organ with plenty of antioxidant-rich foods, including brightly colored fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants protect against inflammation, Saperstein says.

Antioxidants take different forms, including vitamins, minerals and enzymes. Blueberries, for example, contain phyto-nutrients, a type of antioxidant believed to offer substantial health benefits.

There’s a reason Vitamins A, C and E – all antioxidants – appear in face creams. These skin-loving vitamins may promote smooth, hydrated, healthy skin. You’ll find them in a range of foods, including carrots, sweet potatoes, red peppers, citrus, leafy greens, avocados, nuts and seeds, olives and vegetable oils.

Two more skin-boosting antioxidants are coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) and selenium. CoQ10 can help cells create energy and function efficiently. “As we age, we become less effective at making CoQ10,” Saperstein says. You can find it in fish, chicken, beef and whole grains, as well as broccoli, spinach and cauliflower. Bonus: It may soften wrinkles, she says. Selenium, a mineral found in mushrooms, Brazil nuts, shrimp, tuna and sardines, may also battle wrinkles and dryness.

But good skin isn’t only about antioxidants. Healthy, essential fatty acids help prevent dryness, among other benefits. Omega-6 fatty acids come mostly from plant oils, nuts and seeds. Fatty fish, including salmon, mackerel and tuna, are good sources of Omega-3s.

And make sure to drink water throughout the day. “The less water we drink, the more wrinkly we look,” Saperstein says. “Water can add a vivacious, youthful look, especially as we age. But it may also help with all our body processes and help us better absorb nutrients.” Aim for roughly eight 8-ounce glasses a day, she says. Start by drinking water at each meal.

Glossy Hair

Hair is made of keratin, a type of protein. “Without enough protein in your diet, your hair can become dry or brittle,” Saperstein says. “We need to actually ‘feed’ our hair.” The body absorbs protein best from meat and poultry, she says. Vegetarians can fuel up on tofu, legumes, quinoa, nuts and seeds.

Liver-lovers rejoice: Iron can help prevent hair loss. Or eating lean beef once or twice a week, along with low-fat poultry sources at least twice a week, should take care of your iron needs, Saperstein says. Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron, so slice up a red bell pepper and add it to beef fajitas. Vegetarians, reach for wheat germ, dark, leafy vegetables; lima and kidney beans; and iron-enriched cereals.

“Vitamin D is another key ingredient for gorgeous hair,” Saperstein says. “Salmon is one of the best sources of Vitamin D,” she adds. Other fatty fish, including mackerel and tuna, are good sources too, and you can buy milk and other foods fortified with the sunshine vitamin.

Still, Saperstein says, “Vitamin D is really hard to find naturally in food.” Many people need to take a supplement, but too much Vitamin D can be toxic. “You never want to mega-dose,” Saperstein says, “and always get recommendations from your doctor based on your blood test results.

Other ways to love your locks

Probiotics add shine to hair. Consume kefir (a fermented milk beverage) or Greek yogurt.
Zinc helps repair damaged hair follicles. It’s abundant in oysters but also found in fortified cereals, baked beans, turkey and beef.
Biotin is found in egg yolks and helps develop keratin. Avocados do, too, but not as effectively. Also try biotin shampoos or a supplement.
Vitamins A and C and plant oils help produce sebum, a fatty substance that keeps hair nice and shiny, Saperstein says.

Sparkling eyes

Mom was right about carrots helping your eyesight, Saperstein says. “Beta-carotene, which is the type of Vitamin A found in carrots, can help reduce cataracts and macular degeneration.”

Vitamins C and E may also tag-team to firm up the skin around the eyes. Zinc and fatty fish support eye health. In fact, a deficit of DHA fatty acid (a type of Omega-3) can lead to dry-eye syndrome, Saperstein says. Watch your alcohol intake too.

“You can tell when people are unhealthy by looking at them,” she says. "It’s really important for all of us to realize that you are indeed what you eat.”

Strong bones

Show your bones some TLC now, and they’ll help support an active and independent life well into your golden years.

Bone health starts with calcium and Vitamin D, but it’s difficult to get enough through food, says clinical dietitian Halle Saperstein, RD. Plus, our bodies absorb calcium less effectively as we age, she says.

The best food sources for calcium are low-fat and nonfat dairy products, Saperstein says. You can also get it from dark, leafy greens; broccoli; canned sardines and other fish, as well as calcium-fortified juice. (Watch the full-fat cheese and juice, though, Saperstein cautions, because their calories add up fast.)

Your doctor may also suggest dietary supplements and a bone-density test. Try weight-bearing workouts such as strength training, walking, tennis and yoga to help build and maintain bone density.

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Categories: Get Healthy

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