Health

Wrinkles in Time

Something as simple as modifying what you eat and drink can help smooth the lines on your face

Photograph by Getty Images/Vetta

Wrinkles may be an inevitable part of aging, but that doesn't mean fighting them is useless. Protecting your skin from exposure to ultraviolet radiation is the most significant thing you can do to prevent wrinkles, sagging, and discoloration. And some people try invasive techniques, such as chemical peels, Botox, dermal fillers, or surgery. But those efforts are all done from the outside. What about protecting your skin from the inside?

Can something as simple as modifying what you eat and drink help to smooth the lines on your face or prevent future wrinkles?

Erase Wrinkles: No . . . Look Younger: Yes

Studies show that what you eat or don't eat has a definite effect on the health of your skin. As your body's outermost barrier and largest organ, your skin is continuously exposed to various sources of stress, including many environmental factors. So, although a new diet won't clear away all your wrinkles or halt skin aging, nutrition can make a huge difference not only in how you look but also in how you feel.

Foods to Fight Aging

Experts suspect that vitamins A, C, and E and the minerals zinc and selenium may keep wrinkles at bay by reducing the amount of potentially damaging free radicals produced by skin cells. And carotenoid-rich fruit and veggies such as cantaloupe, apricots, carrots, sweet potatoes, and spinach may also boost your skin's health. Tip: Choose fruits and vegetables that have deep green, yellow, orange, and red hues. The intense color is the calling card of carotenoids.

Minimize your intake of simple or high-glycemic-index carbohydrates, such as enriched bread or flour products, processed and refined foods, candy, and soft drinks. These are often low in nutrients and high in sugar. Instead, choose complex or low-glycemic-index carbs, such as legumes and whole-grain breads and cereals.

Healthy Food Choices for Your Skin

Vitamin A

  • Spinach, leaf lettuce, carrots, squash, sweet potatoes
  • Papayas, mangoes, cantaloupe
  • Low-fat milk, eggs

Vitamin C

  • Red bell peppers, broccoli
  • Peaches, oranges, papayas, kiwifruit

Vitamin E

  • Nuts and seeds

Zinc and Selenium

  • Fortified whole-grain cereals
  • Eggs, low-fat milk

Visit the Water Fountain of Youth

Imagine what happens to a plant when it goes without water for too long. It begins to droop, and then it becomes dry and brittle. Watering the plant may bring it back, but it will likely have damaged leaves. Water works similarly within people. By drinking water, you moisturize your skin from the inside out, helping to maintain its elasticity and suppleness, which means less droop, less dryness, and less damage.

It may not be a sure cure for crow's-feet, brow furrows, or laugh lines, but improving a few food and behavior choices could help your skin. Although studies specific to wrinkle prevention are currently limited, a host of other studies reveal that the same vitamins and nutrients that may protect your skin also are beneficial to the health of your eyes, teeth, nails, bones, and circulatory system. So if a more youthful appearance overall is what you're after, then skin is only one part of the equation. Eating a diverse diet, with plenty of fruit and vegetables can make your RealAge younger and can bring out a healthier and younger-looking you.

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