The benefits of the Mediterranean diet for treating and preventing heart disease, obesity and diabetes are well known and well publicized in internet literature. But did you know that Mediterranean foods also have profound benefits for your skin? Looking younger and healthier helps boost your self-esteem. Well-cared-for skin will give you that glow year around and help you age gracefully. Skincare experts suggest washing your face at least twice a day. But no matter how many external products you use your skin will continue to mirror what’s going inside your body. After all, the skin is the largest organ and responds to protective ingested nutrients as does the rest of your body.
The skin is a complex organ, every square inch of which is made up of over a thousand nerve endings, 650 sweat glands, and 20 blood vessels. Its function is to not only protect the internal organs, but also to regulate internal temperature, sensation, and production of melanin and vitamin D.
Your Skin Reflects What You Eat
How can the Mediterranean diet help you get that healthy and glowing skin you’ve always wanted? Your skin is subject to free radical damage from intense sunlight, environmental pollution (including vehicle and cigarette smoke) as well as internal free radical overproduction from an unhealthy diet. These substances disrupt the collagen and the elastic tissue (fibrillin) surrounding it. This, in turn, causes wrinkling of the skin. Collagen, elastin, and fibrillin are the proteins in connective tissues that help keep the skin supple and plump. Ingested omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin C are known to enhance collagen formation in your body’s ligaments, and hence, ward off the damaging process of skin aging.
Mediterranean Foods Rich in Omega-3 Reverse Wrinkle Formation
Oily fish and shellfish are some of the best sources of omega-3 in nature. Salmon, particularly wild salmon, is a primary source of omega-3s plus is very low in toxic mercury. Omega-3 rich fish also contains a nice amount of protein, magnesium, potassium, selenium, and B vitamins. Similarly, canned sardines, trout fish and shrimp, are other commonly available aquatic foods that contain a similar bounty of nutrients good for your skin.
Among plant-based sources, flax seeds, walnuts, kidney beans, and soy, are excellent sources of both omega-3s and antioxidants. Mixing oatmeal with nuts and berries for a snack can help satiate food cravings, as well as serve as a healthy energy boost during your daily routine.
Foods Rich in Anti-Oxidants to Reverse Visible Skin Damage
Much of skin aging is due to the presence of unstable molecules, or free radicals, in your body. To counter these free radicals your body needs to consume antioxidant-rich food. Mediterranean recipes are most often plant-based—loaded with plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables and extra virgin olive oil—all rich in wrinkle-fighting antioxidants.
Freshly picked berries, such as blueberries, strawberries, grapefruits, etc., are also rich in antioxidant vitamins A, C & E. These fruits form an essential part of the Mediterranean breakfast and help control visible damage to your skin.
Consuming 6 to 8 glasses of water a day, along with Mediterranean recipes (rich in protective nutrients and free radical fighting antioxidants) and using sunblock, can go a long way towards rejuvenating your skin and preventing wrinkles. You can get detailed meal plans, diet charts, and exercise routines recommended by Dr. Janet in her Mediterranean diet articles section.
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