by Stephen Kelly
Question: Almost every adult carries around something that weighs 8 pounds, is 22 square feet in diameter, consists of three layers and can often be in different colors. What is it?
The answer, of course, is skin.
Those facts shouldn’t be surprising, since skin is the body’s largest organ, and its importance cannot be understated. It keeps us hydrated and maintains body temperature. It protects us from the sun’s rays, produces Vitamin D for strong bones, and acts a natural barrier between the environment and your innards. Throw in the fact that it exudes antibacterial agents that prevent infection, and it’s a wonder why we don’t take better care of it.
Ironically, caring for your skin takes a lot less work than lifting weights, running, or whatever else you do to keep the rest of your body healthy. In fact, it may be as easy as eating a sensible, nutrition-packed diet. Today we’re all about the outer person as we look at all-natural, food-based ways to care for the skin you’re in.
YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT
Skin needs nutrients to stay healthy, protect itself from damage and replenish dead skin cells with healthy new cells. As expected, these nutrients are best derived from food. Some foods are better than others, but the following pack the best nutritional punch when it comes to benefitting skin health.
Omega-3 Rich Fish: Salmon, sardines, tuna and mackerel are all packed with Omega-3 fatty acids, which strengthen and hydrates cell membranes, which in turn keeps skin smooth and supple, and improves elasticity and pore health. Salmon, in particular, contains astaxanthin, a carotenoid that boosts skin elasticity. Omega-3’s can also be found in flaxseed, walnuts and canola oil.
Green Tea: Known as a superfood for its powerful antioxidant properties, green tea protects the body from free radicals, the naturally occurring particles within the body that accelerate aging. Air pollution, excess sunlight and smoking increase the number of free radicals in the blood. Green tea is also believed to protect the skin from the damaging effects of the sun and UV rays, thereby helping to prevent forms of skin cancer.
Carrots: Packed with beta-carotene and vitamin C, carrots are as beneficial for the skin as they are for eyesight. The body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A, which helps maintain and replenish skin cells. Vitamin C helps in the formation of collagen, a protein essential in maintaining healthy skin and tissues. It also helps reduce the damage caused by free radicals. Vitamin C can also be found in citrus fruits, and vegetables such as leafy greens, broccoli, carrots, bell peppers and cauliflower.
Almonds: Small in size, almonds pack a powerful punch due to high levels of Vitamin E, which not only helps in the battle against free radicals, but also moisturizes the skin from within, protects skin from damage and helps prevent premature aging. Vitamin E is also be found in avocados, olives, seeds, nuts, spinach, vegetable oil and asparagus.
As you can see, maintaining healthy skin and a smooth complexion is simply a matter of getting the right type of nutrients and vitamins, particularly A, C, E and the B vitamins. Other foods that can improve the health of skin include whole grains, olive oil, tomatoes, eggs, pomegranate and legumes.
DIY, All-Natural Skin Care Products
Of course, creams, oils and moisturizers can also be an effective part of a skin care regimen, but let the buyer beware. Amazingly, some products contain ingredients that in the long run can be harmful to skin. Read the ingredients label first. If words like parabans, alcohol, mineral oils, 1,4 dioxine or fragrances are in there, then that product should not be on your body.
Fortunately, all-natural skin care products can be found right in your kitchen. Here are a few skin care “recipes” whose ingredients you probably already have in your cupboards or refrigerator:
Avocado Facial Cream: Mash the meat of an avocado into a creamy mixture. Massage into the skin of the face and neck. Leave on for 15 minutes, gently rinse off and feel the amazing moisturizing effects.
Oatmeal and Yogurt Mask: Mix together one tablespoon each of finely ground oatmeal and live, organic yogurt (plain, not flavored) and a few drops of warm honey. Apply to face and leave on for ten minutes, then rinse off with warm water.
Banana Wrinkle Treatment: Mash a quarter of a banana until very creamy. Spread all over face and leave on for fifteen to twenty minutes. Rinse off with warm water, followed by a dash of cold water. Bananas make for a great anti-wrinkle cream, too.
Egg and Honey Facial: Beat an egg white until stiff. Stir in one teaspoon of honey and spread over face and neck. Let the mixture dry for 30 minutes, then splash off with lukewarm water, followed by a splash of cold.
Papaya Facial Mask: Puree one cup fresh pineapple and a half cup papaya. Add one tablespoon honey and mix into a smooth paste. Spread on face and leave on fifteen to twenty minutes. Rinse completely with warm water.
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