Environmental Nutrition: Eat to glow
The great grape
If you like to regularly venture into the great outdoors, popping a few grapes could help you keep premature skin aging at bay via some sunburn-protective effects. According to a study by scientists in Spain, the flavonoids found in grapes, especially darker varieties, can act as natural photoprotection by lessening UV-ray-activated reactive oxygen species (ROS) from forming and causing skin cell death. These results are not enough to make sunscreen obsolete but suggest that sweet grapes are a summer-friendly snack your skin could benefit from.
Don’t be fresh obsessed
Looks like there might be a gut-skin axis. Preliminary research suggests that exposure to higher amounts of the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus can impact the expression of certain genes in the skin involved in adult acne. Other science published in the journal Nutrition Research found that higher intakes of fermented foods may reduce the risk of developing eczema. (Of note, eating more meat and processed packaged foods caused higher rates of eczema.) “The gut and skin are innervated organs and each affects the other, health-wise,” says Lockhart. Research is still in its infancy, but Lockhart says you can try to combat pimples and red, itchy skin (and also keep your digestive health in tip-top-shape) by eating more fermented foods like kimchi, kefir, miso, and sauerkraut.
Go fish for salmon
Better known as a great source of heart-benefiting omega-3 fats, this swimmer also serves up an important compound to help stamp out photoaging. Data presented in the journal PLOS ONE suggest that astaxanthin, an antioxidant pigment found in pinkish fish like salmon and arctic char, can accumulate in the skin where it protects against the harmful effects of UV exposure including the skin water loss that contributes to wrinkles. An Italian study also found that low weekly intake of fresh fish, as well as fruits or vegetables, were associated with higher rates of adult acne.
Joy for soy
One study found that increasing the amount of soy-derived isoflavones in the diets of postmenopausal women improved skin thickness and boosted concentrations of collagen and elastic fibers for a more youthful appearance. Find isoflavones by reaching for tofu, tempeh, and edamame. As a bonus, the amino acids in soy-based foods can supply our bodies with the essential building blocks to support collagen production, the protein responsible for helping promote skin firmness which tends to suffer as we age.
(Environmental Nutrition is the award-winning independent newsletter written by nutrition experts dedicated to providing readers up-to-date, accurate information about health and nutrition in clear, concise English. For more information, visit www.environmentalnutrition.com.)