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Feed Your Face: The right foods can keep you looking youthful longer

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Even as the candles on your birthday cake increase in number, good health keeps you looking and feeling young. Modern medicine can revive the look of aging skin, but a diet with the right nutrients can prevent these concerns before they start and improve age-related issues without the cost and side effects of medication. Here are ways to maintain a radiant complexion from the inside out.

Improve skin tone

Dr. Barbara Bopp, a dermatologist with East Jefferson General Hospital, notes that a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids is one of the best ways to maintain a youthful complexion. Omega-3 fatty acids strengthen skin cell membranes, helping to maintain moisture. This keeps skin dewy and glowing while decreasing the risk of inflammation flare-ups from rosacea, eczema, or psoriasis.

Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in nuts and fruits, including walnuts and kiwi, but fish is the most accessible source because it contains both eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acids (DHA).

“All fatty fish like mackerel and salmon make the skin softer and smoother,” Bopp says. “The omega-3 fatty acids help to decrease inflammation, and when you have less inflammation, you have less aging.” Sardines, tuna, halibut, and cod also contain high quantities of omega-3s. To avoid consuming excess mercury, the FDA recommends limiting your intake of fatty fish to no more than two 6-oz. servings per week.

Fight wrinkles

Pollution, UV rays, and stress can cause free radicals to lay siege to your skin. However, antioxidants help neutralize these wrinkle-causing free radicals.

“When you ingest antioxidants, they decrease the formation of collagenase and elastase, enzymes which break down the skin,” Bopp says. “When you produce less of these enzymes, the skin breaks down more slowly, resulting in fewer wrinkles.”

A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is a good start. Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, artichoke hearts, pecans, and red beans are just a few delicious ways to keep skin supple. Green tea, the antioxidant vitamins C and E, and coenzyme Q10 also are good choices for fighting wrinkles.

Stay hydrated

One of the best methods for preserving a youthful glow is to drink water — lots and lots of water. “Of course, water hydrates us,” Bopp says. “But one of the most important things that it does for the skin is to be absorbed by glycosaminoglycans (GAGs). GAGs perform regulatory functions in the skin, helping to maintain water. When you are properly hydrated, more water attaches to your GAGs, adding volume and taking up more space. This gives the skin a softer, more filled-out appearance.”

Growing old is an inevitability we all must face, but the right foods can help keep your heart healthy, your mind sharp and your skin radiant into your twilight years. So remember, the next time you go searching for the newest thing in anti-aging remedies, the first place you can look is your own refrigerator.