Ask any skincare specialist and they’re likely to list a bunch of trendy pampering ingredients to slather on your skin – morning and night – to fight the effects of ageing.
But what you put into your body can be just as, if not more, important than expensive anti-wrinkle creams and oils.
Ageing is both a privilege and a completely normal part of life; as you get older, the body’s production of collagen decreases. Environmental factors such as gravity and ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun can prematurely age skin, as can certain habits such as smoking.
Depriving your body of nutrient-rich foods can also affect the strength of your skin. From vegetables to fish, we’ve found some key foods that can’t turn back the clock, but have properties that may help you get softer, more youthful-looking skin …
If you’re lucky enough to track down tinned, or even fresh, tomatoes at the supermarket at the moment (good luck), remember they are both super delicious when stirred into bolognaise or tossed in a salad, and can also help fight UV-induced damage.
“Tomatoes contain a natural pigment called lycopene, which is also found in red peppers,” says Foga nutritionist Ruth Tongue. “This pigment helps protect the skin from sun damage and boosts collagen production, making skin appear plumper and more youthful.”
You don’t always have to splash out on fresh tomatoes either, as studies have found that our bodies can absorb lycopene from plain old tomato paste, too.
2. Oily fish
As we get older, our skin loses the ability to effectively retain water in the epidermis – the outermost layer of the skin. This is, Ms Tongue explains, because the skin cell membranes that trap the moisture start to lose their strength.
“Oily fish – like sardines, salmon, tuna steaks, mackerel and anchovies – increase skin cell membrane strength and suppleness, helping to reduce the visible signs of ageing,” she says.
There are other key benefits, too. “The omega-3 fatty acids found in these fish help to protect the heart and brain from age-induced damage and deterioration,” she adds.
“Most nuts, but especially almonds, are a great source of vitamin E,” says Ms Tongue. “Inflammation is a fundamental characteristic of ageing and vitamin E works as a powerful anti-inflammatory.”
Many major diseases – including cancer, heart disease and diabetes – have been linked to chronic inflammation. “Remember that the best sources of vitamins are always whole foods rather than supplements – and taking too much vitamin E can have a harmful effect on the body,” warns Ms Tongue.
Some people have found a slight egg shortage to be a problem just now due to coronavirus, but when you can get hold of a box, they might have some secret skin benefits.
“Eggs are a great source of sulphur – essential for collagen production in the body,” says Ms Tongue, who likes to think of them as ‘nature’s botox’. “Sulphur also increases the production of another key anti-ageing, anti-inflammatory in the body called glutathione, too.”
Beyond tasting great, berries have a lot going on in the skin-boosting department.
“Berries are packed with vitamin C, as well as other antioxidants,” says Ms Tongue. “As well as protecting your cells, these plant compounds may reduce disease risk and have been shown to reduce some of the damaging oxidation seen in ageing cells.”
Try to eat berries when in season, says Ms Tongue, to help cut your carbon footprint, or buy them frozen.
Do you already incorporate many of these into your diet?
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Health disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.