Healthier Spring Skin Care
It's been spring for a few weeks now; flowers are blooming, birds are chirping and your skin…well, what exactly is going on with your skin? Despite the weather being consistently better, some of us still seem to be battling parched patches left over from old man winter, or blemishes irritated by fluffy scarves or all those extra layers. Well, fear not! We asked a few experts ways to keep skin looking great all season.
While it's important to use sunscreen and avoid direct sun exposure for too long, did you know that what you eat can protect and improve your skin from the inside out?
Go for Tomatoes
Dr. Karin Hermoni, Lycored Nutrient Complex Category Manager advises complementing the use of topical sunscreens through "A healthy diverse diet, rich in fruits and vegetables, helps promote skin wellness and prevent the skin aging processes." She mentioned certain, "phytonutrients in our diet which can amplify the ability of our skin to cope with the environmental damage and UV rays which are major contributors to skin aging. Specifically, tomatoes contain high levels of the plant pigments, called carotenoids, such as lycopene that gives the tomato its red color and is known for its many health benefits, as well as phytoene and phytofluene that absorb light in the UV range."
Don't Go for the Burn
Dr. Hermoni said that the beneficial effect of tomato carotenoids on human skin has been extensively researched. "Scientific evidence point to the ability of these nutrients to protect our skin from UV damage and the accelerated skin aging that results from it. For example, consuming tomato products or tomato based supplements can reduce sun-burn as well as control the intracellular oxidative stress and inflammation associated with UV damage. Moreover, it has been shown that tomato carotenoids can reduce the level of skin biomarkers playing key role in skin photo-aging and wrinkle formation thus supporting not only skin health but also skin appearance."
In other words: If you don't want to look as red as a tomato after a day in the sun, eating tomatoes regularly may help you protect your skin from getting sun-burned.
Hey Good Cooking
In case you're wondering the best ways to unleash the full strength of the tomato effect, Dr. Hermoni says that it's important to note that "lycopene and the rest of the active compounds in the tomato are oil soluble. In order to increase their absorption, it is better to cook them in oil. Always choose a healthy oil, such as olive oil, which is the main oil used in the Mediterranean cuisine. If you like your tomatoes raw, to a salad, add some olive oil for better absorption of those tomato carotenoids."
Add some Vitamins to the Mix
Dr. Jeffrey Gladd, MD of GladdMD Integrative Medicine and Scientific Advisory Board Care/of said "While there are definite benefits to sensible exposure, it's important to be cautious of over-exposure, as it may lead to early weakening of the skin's elasticity, ultimately resulting in wrinkles." But don't panic just yet! There are many vitamins and nutrients that can help protect skin from the inside out.
Dr. Gladd said "Vitamin C and astaxanthin (and antioxidant supplement) are known for their antioxidant protection, specifically guarding the skin from the damaging effects of the sun. In some studies, these skin supporting nutrients are even associated with better skin appearance and notable decreases in wrinkling." If you're concerned with moisture in your skin, Dr. Gladd said "Much like the need to fuel our bodies with good nutrition, healthy skin requires proper nourishment. One component needed for great skin is gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which helps to preserve moisture, firmness, and elasticity. As GLA is not abundant in most foods, a supplemental version is often beneficial to overall skin health, particularly for dry skin conditions like eczema. Evening primrose oil has a long history of being used to support skin health, offering the benefits of GLA."
Despite all this delicious advice, always remember to slather on sunscreen and wear a wide-brimmed hat before the most intense sun exposure.
Also, in the Mediterranean spirit, an overall healthy diverse diet that includes not only tomatoes, but other phytonutrients from fruits, vegetables and spices will balance our skin as well as contribute to overall wellness (which is also reflected in our skin). Research shows that some phytonutrients actually work in synergy and their combined effect is larger than each compound on its own. For example, during the research process that lead to the development of a unique food derived holistic solution to skin wellness from Lycored, we realized that the combination of tomato lycopene with the rosemary spice which is rich in a potent antioxidant called carnosic acid is highly synergistic and helps control local inflammatory and oxidative stress processes in the skin. The day I saw the synergy in the lab, it was so exciting to me (as if you put 2 things in the magic hat and you get something completely else….). Guess what I made for dinner that night? Oven baked potatoes with tomatoes, rosemary and olive oil (for better absorption, and for better taste!). Lycoderm is that dish packed in a soft gel in the most bioavailable way.
It is important to note that in skin care as well as in overall wellness there are no magic pills. It is all about healthy choices that we need to make on our day to day. Healthy and active lifestyle, diverse nutrition, topical skin care and sun-smart lifestyle as well as a general positive approach to life will all be reflected in our skin.