Today's guest post comes from Emma Banks! Emma is a 20-something new wife living in upstate New York. When she isn't blogging you can find her spending time exercising, crafting, or doing whatever brings a smile to her face. Give her blog a visit at http://www.smileasithappens.blogspot.com/
Let's face it: as far as sheer numbers go, our skin is the single largest organ in our bodies. We absolutely have to care for our hearts, brains, livers, everything—but we can't neglect our skin! We all have busy lives, but I argue that we can all make a little time and effort to take care of ourselves to keep us looking and feeling younger and healthier. Now, there are a lot of different numbers and statistics out there, but I've done a bunch of number crunching to bring the best advice I can find about skin care to you!
What to Avoid
Though I don't like to start with anything negative, it's important first to set boundaries and learn about what may be harming our health and us. There are a lot of things to watch out for, but once you get a diet going, it's easy enough to keep healthy! The first thing is to avoid too much sugar. Besides being downright bad for you and fattening to boot, processed sugars harm your skin by causing wrinkles. I advise avoiding anything with fructose corn syrup or fruits high in fructose. Another thing to be wary of is the presence of too many grains in your diet. Whole grains are usually fine, but the refined carbs like those found in rice, pasta, and white bread can prematurely age your skin.
Finally, though I love a tall cup of cool milk as much as the next girl, milk is a huge culprit in skin damage. I hate it, but like many others I am plagued by acne—but when I cut out milk, I noticed a massive improvement. Dairy is surprisingly easy to cut out, especially with the plethora of lactose- and milk-protein-free substitutes like unsweetened soy or almond milk at hand.
What to Embrace
Now, for the good stuff! I love to eat, and once I know what I have available, I love being able to experiment to make delicious meals and feel super healthy. Vitamin C is known to keep your skin healthy and help reduce wrinkles, so eat up on those fruits and veggies! All the strawberries, red fruits, oranges, and grapefruits are my favorites to incorporate into everyday life. And to protect against the sun's UV rays, you can chow down on squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, nuts, oatmeal—most unprocessed vegetables, really! Another plus of most whole grains, vegetables, and legumes is that they contain a lot of fiber, which, in addition to being great for your digestive tract, also helps to improve your complexion!
All this super-healthy eating can, I admit, get dull after a little while. But there's no reason not to enjoy the sweet things in life while also caring for your body! I love desserts, and I love baking. Berries, for example, often make a perfect, tart dessert, and are high in antioxidants, which is also wonderful for your skin. When my husband and I want a treat, what I often do is get a gluten-free pie crust (don't scoff—you can't tell the difference at all!) and whip up a tasty mixed berry pie. And for those days where nothing else will satisfy, dark chocolate is also antioxidant-rich, so I'll indulge on a square or five!
What to Drink
This whole taking-care-of-your-skin thing doesn't just stop at food. It's also crucial that we watch what we drink. A lot of fruit juices, unfortunately, are packed with processed sugars, so I've started avoiding them altogether. Recently I've actually been going on a tea binge: white and green teas are also big hits in antioxidants, and can help to protect the cell membranes in skin. (They're also delicious and require no cream or sugar!) The doctor also always recommends eight to ten cups of water a day, which will moisturize your skin and keep it younger longer. (I personally find it hard to drink that much water a day, but my doctor said the water in tea counts—thank goodness!)
Now, my family is Italian, so I've grown up with great red wine. Studies have shown that a cup of red wine in the evening is great for your cholesterol—but mind you don't have more than that! Alcohol can inflame and harm your skin, so that should absolutely be kept down to a minimum.
Phew! With all that in mind, remember: with a little practice and a set diet, you can be sure to keep your skin young and healthy while indulging in some of your favorite treats!
Thank you Emma for the great information! Seriously, you could not be more right about the sugar!!!