In our beauty-centric American culture, people can be unforgivingly shallow. As unfair as it is, you will be judged by others based upon your appearance. Whether it’s a potential employer, colleagues, clients, or your partner, your appearance is probably important to them; and it should be important to you. To look your best, you need to eat your best. Besides improving your overall health, a healthy diet can also improve the way you look. We’re not just talking about keeping your weight down either. Eating certain foods can improve the way you look cosmetically: skin, hair, and nails. If you want to improve your appearance, follow these five basic principles to learn about foods that will make you look better.
Foods that will make you look better: The Five Principles
1. Drink water
If you want to look good, staying hydrated is essential. Water improves the way you look on multiple levels. First, water works with fiber to carry toxins out of your body. Without enough water in your system to flush them out, toxins remain in your body and wreak havoc on your appearance: puffy face; red, dry, and puffy eyes; dull and dry skin, hair, and nails; even acne breakouts and dermatitis.
Second, water protects your skin cells. The more water a skin cell contains, the less vulnerable it is to invasion by potentially harmful bacteria. Once the structure of the skin cell becomes damaged, it becomes unhealthy, resulting in bad looking skin. So, if you want to avoid lousy looking skin, drink water.
2. Eat healthy fats
Essential fatty acids from seeds, nuts, olives/olive oil, flaxseed, fish oils, and lecithin (from eggs) are crucial to the skin’s natural moisture balance. By maintaining cell structure, they keep bad things out and good things in. If you don’t eat enough of these fats, your skin will become dry, cracked, scaly and itchy.
3. Get your daily dose of zinc fortified proteins
The protein you eat has a lot more to do with how you look than you may think. Your skin, hair, and nails are all made of protein. But if you are not eating enough protein, your body will divert the protein nutrients to more essential body parts first. This will leave your skin, hair, and nails deprived of their essential building block and leave them weak and looking awful. Potential consequences of protein deficiency: your skin will become dry, flaky, dull, and irritated, your nails will break more easily, and your hair might start to fall out.
An additional benefit to eating protein is zinc, which is an important mineral for skin, hair, and nail health. Seafood, shellfish, lean red meats, dark meat poultry, nuts, and eggs are all protein sources that contain high levels of zinc. Be sure to stay away from artery clogging high-fat proteins and stick to the ones listed above.
If you are a vegetarian, you can also get your zinc from peaches, onions, whole grains, fermented soybean paste, and some legumes. And, of course, you can also take a daily vitamin or supplement.
4. Listen to your mother and eat your fruits and vegetables
Along with being additional sources of zinc (see above), fruits and vegetables also contain various vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that help to ward off diseases of the skin and eyes. Eat brightly colored and dark fruits and vegetables for antioxidants (see our article A Review of the Best Antioxidant Rich Foods), use vegetable oils high in vitamin E to fight free radicals and Alzheimer’s disease, and eat soybeans to get a variety of phytochemicals to help fight diseases, including cancer.
5. Skip the sugar
If you want to look 10 years younger, you only have to do one thing - reduce your sugar consumption. If you do, the impact will be profound. Why? For one simple reason, sugar is responsible for almost half of all aging that takes place inside skin cells. How so? By binding with collagen, the protein that makes up 75% of skin, sugar activates a chemical reaction called glycation. The gist: “The sugars bind with tissues to form harmful molecules, called advanced glycation end products (ironically known as AGEs), which damage elastin and collagen -- two substances your skin needs to stay supple and elastic” (Dr. Leslie Baumann, 2009: Too Much Sugar Causes Wrinkles). So, how does it work? If left undisturbed, collagen molecules move smoothly across one another with little friction, resulting in soft, supple skin. However, when sugar molecules attach to collagen molecules, the collagen molecules can no longer slide past one another smoothly and begin to get stuck. Because collagen is responsible for keeping lines and wrinkles at bay, when sugar interferes, collagen can no longer do its job. The result is wrinkles and sagging skin. When it comes to your looks, sugar is the Grim Reaper, so avoid it like the plague!
Follow the five basic principles listed above about foods that will make you look better, and you will notice significant improvements in your appearance. Eat the right things and healthy skin, shiny hair, and stronger nails are just a few bites away.
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