There are hundreds of superfoods that benefit the skin - here is a tiny sampling.
1. Wild Alaskan Salmon and other cold water fish (salmon, sardines, herring, trout, etc.) are great sources of protein which is necessary to maintain and repair the body-including the skin on a cellular level. Protein cannot be stored in our bodies. For optimum health and cellular repair we need to have a good source of quality protein at each meal.
If we are rating a food group either pro-inflammatory or anti-inflammatory, we will find that protein, on the whole, is neutral. However, some sources of protein, such as the fish listed above, provide powerful anti-inflammatory benefits for two reasons:
a. They are high anti-inflammatory omega 3 essential fatty acids which keeps skin radiant, supple and wrinkle free, moods upbeat and brain functioning at optimal levels
b. Wild salmon's bright pink or deep red color, depending on variety, owes its pigment to the presence of astaxanthin, a super powerful carotenoid anti-oxidant with potent anti-inflammatory properties.
2. Green Foods. When we talk about "Green Foods" we're referring to a group of foods that includes young cereal grasses like barley grass and wheat grass. Nutritionally, they are close cousins to dark leafy, green vegetables, but offer far greater levels of "nutrient density." In other words, an ounce of these concentrated green foods contains much more of the beneficial phytonutrients found in an ounce of green vegetables. Green foods, such as Green MagmaTM help detoxify the body to keep skin clear and radiant.
The results of many experimental studies show that green foods have marked beneficial effects on cholesterol, blood pressure, immune response, and cancer prevention. These effects are attributed in part to their high concentrations of chlorophyll.
Chlorophyll, the phyto-chemical that gives leaves, plants, and algae their green hues, is the plant equivalent of the oxygen-carrying red pigment hemoglobin in red blood cells. Dietary chlorophyll inhibits disease bacteria and exerts therapeutic effects on bad breath and internal odors.
3. Beans and lentils. Beans and lentils are a superfood for a number of reasons in addition to their high fiber content. When it comes to maintaining beautiful skin and keeping unwanted pounds at bay, beans and lentils are a body's best friend. The reason is because they are very low-glycemic. This means they will not cause a rapid rise in blood sugar when eaten, the way sugary, starchy food do. Beans and lentils are anti-inflammatory foods, and will keep your blood sugar stable-key in preventing dull, dry, wrinkled sagging skin and hard to lose body fat.
4. Olives and extra virgin olive oil. We need a source of good fats in our diet, fats that will help us absorb nutrients from our vegetables and fruits, keep our cells supple, our skin glowing and wrinkle-free, our brains sharp and our mood upbeat. We also need dietary fat to burn fat. Extra virgin olive oil contains oleic acid, which helps us to absorb the omega-3s and other vitamins and nutrients from our foods. Oleic acid is vital in keeping the outer portion of the cell, known as the cell plasma membrane, supple, thereby allowing nutrients to enter the cell and wastes to exit.
5. Green Tea. Green tea contains compounds known as polyphenols which help to eliminate inflammation-producing free radicals. Recently, researchers have found that these polyphenols protect healthy cells from cancer causing DNA damage, while ushering cancer cells to their death.
Another remarkable finding is the power of green tea polyphenols known as EGCG to reactivate dying skin cells. In fact, researchers consider this amazing energizing of dying skin cells to potential benefit skin diseases such as psoriasis, ulcers, rosacea, wounds-and yes, even wrinkles.
6. Blueberries. Blueberries have some amazing qualities including the fact that are one of the greatest sources of antioxidants. They also have great anti-inflammatory properties-remember inflammation is not just linked to disease-it is a major cause of wrinkling and sagging in the skin. Blueberries also increase brain power, restore balance and improve memory.
Anything that is good for the brain is also excellent for the skin because of the brain/beauty connection. In embryology there are three layers of tissue that develop into every organ system in our bodies. The same layer of tissue that is responsible for the production of the brain also produces skin. As a medical student I recognized that when something is therapeutic for the brain the skin improved.
7. Sour Citrus Fruits. This includes citrus like lemons, limes, and grapefruit. All are rich in antioxidants known as limonoids and limonene's which offer their own special benefits:
I. Protect lungs; alleviate chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
II. Help prevent cancer, by boosting the activity of detoxification enzymes in the liver.
III. Lower blood cholesterol levels.
IV. Inhibit cancer in human breast cells, skin, lung, stomach, mouth and colon cancer in laboratory animals.
Lemon bioflavonoids contain hesperidin as well as proanthocyanidins. Proanthocyandins are defined as a class of nutrients that belong to the flavonoid family. A study conducted for Bordeaux Médical found that proanthocyanidins (also found in teas, black currant, bilberry, cranberry, grape seed, and grape skin) have been shown to strengthen capillaries. They also play an important role in the maintenance of elastin and the stabilization of collagen-crucial for healthy, youthful skin.
Nicholas Perricone, MD, FACN, CNS, is a board certified dermatologist, award-winning scientist, inventor and the author of multiple #1 New York Times bestselling books.