As you age, your skin will likely start to lose firmness as its fatty tissue disappears and its production of strengthening collagen and elastin slows. Many people try to repair their skin externally by spackling sagging tissue with creams and ointments or visiting a doctor for injections and surgery. But some research shows you might be able to use what you eat to help aid your fight against sagging skin.
You might start out by adding soy or soy-based products, which may help give sagging skin a boost. Some research has shown that people who included soy-based products in their diet saw an increase in their skin's firmness after six months [source: MedicineNet].
Essential fatty acids, such as omega-3, can help skin retain moisture and increase its soft, supple appearance. You can find omega-3s in cold-water fish and flaxseed oil [source: WebMD].
Vitamins A and C are also great for your skin. Vitamin A helps repairs damaged skin cells and vitamin C can help prevent some DNA damage from the sun, which leads to early signs of aging [sources: WebMD, Watson]. The best way to get their full effects is to apply them to your skin in a topical form such as a cream, but including them in your diet through foods or vitamin supplements might also provide some benefit. Foods rich in vitamin A include carrots, sweet potatoes, milk and egg yolk. Those with vitamin C include citrus fruits, tomatoes and broccoli.
In general, to keep your skin healthy, you should eat a mix of fruits and vegetables so you can load up on antioxidants and other valuable nutrients. Antioxidants may help to clear out damaging free radicals, which harm your skin cells and are believed to contribute to wrinkling and sagging. Other foods high in antioxidants include fish, olive oil, fruits, spinach and other leafy greens [source: Gibson].
Of course, signs of aging aren't avoidable, and none of these foods will give you drastic results in reversing those signs, but they can help to improve your overall health, which should have a positive effect on your skin's appearance. For more information on choosing healthful foods, follow the links below.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- American Academy of Family Physicians. "Vitamins and Minerals: What You Should Know." (Accessed Sept. 25, 2009) http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/otc-center/otc-medicines/863.printerview.html
- Gibson, Lawrence E., M.D. "Are some foods better than others for healthy skin?" Mayo Clinic. July 3, 2008. (Accessed Oct. 12, 2009) http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/healthy-skin/AN01863
- MedicineNet. "Wrinkles Pictures Slideshow: Surprising Ways to Reduce Wrinkles." 2007. (Accessed Oct. 29, 2009)http://www.medicinenet.com/wrinkles_pictures_slideshow/article.htm
- Novak, Sara. "Eat 5 Green Foods to Improve Your Skin from the Inside Out." Planet Green. March 4, 2009 (Accessed Sept. 27, 2009) http://planetgreen.discovery.com/food-health/green-foods-improve-skin.html
- Real Age. "Foods that Make Your Skin Glow." April 16, 2008 (Accessed Sept. 27, 2009) http://www.realage.com/blogs/food-bites/foods-that-make-your-skin-glow
- Watson, Stephanie. "Beauty and Skin Care: Vitamins and Antioxidants." WebMD. Sept. 30, 2009 (Accessed Oct. 12, 2009) http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-lifestyle-guide/beauty-skin-care-vitamins-antioxidants
- WebMD. "Nutrients for Healthy Skin: Inside and Out." 2005. (Accessed Oct. 28, 2009)http://www.webmd.com/skin-beauty/features/nutrients-for-healthy-skin-inside-out
- Wright, Brierley, M.S., R.D. "Can Eating Tomatoes Save Your Skin?" EatingWell. March/April 2008 (Accessed Sept. 27, 2009) http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/healthy_aging/can_eating_tomatoes_save_your_skin