We all know what we eat and drink can affect the way we look. Eat a diet high in processed foods washed down with alcohol and soon your skin will begin to look dry and dull and break outs will become the norm.
But when it comes to eating the fresh stuff, are there certain fruits and vegetable which will put a halt on the ageing process more than others? Does eating chia bowls packed with colourful superfoods and berries help?
We spoke to Emma Brown MSc, nutritionist, to find out more.
If there’s one thing which annoys Emma it’s the mention of a superfood! “Let’s knock this myth on the head!” she insists.
“The truth is, there isn’t such a thing as a ‘superfood’ in the way it’s often claimed.
The term ‘superfood’ implies a single food can do remarkable things all on its own.
But if your diet is mostly bad, but you eat 300g of blueberries every day, the berries alone can’t reverse or counteract the damage the rest of your diet is doing.” Sorry to everyone is trying to do just this!
“Some foods are rich in nutrients and great to include as part of a healthy balanced diet – but the key is variety!” says Emma. “Aim for a rainbow of colours in your choice of fruits and vegetables: different colours equals different nutrients, and it’s the variety of nutrients in our diet that’s most important.”
To get the very most out of your fresh produce you need to eat them at their best too.
As soon as they start to spoil their nutritional value is reduced as well. “Aim to eat your fresh fruits and veggies within a few days of purchase as the nutrient content reduces over time, or buy frozen fruit where the nutrients have been locked in due to the fast time between picking and freezing,” Emma recommends.
While there is no doubt that a variety of fruit and vegetables is what we need for overall good health, there are some stars when it comes to anti-ageing.
“Some of the most nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables which help to keep our skin, hair and eyes looking healthy are avocados, berries, garlic, grapes, kale, peppers, spinach, sweet potato and tomatoes,” explains Emma.
But all fruits and vegetables are great to include in our diet and it’s good to try and get as many varieties in as possible to get a wide range of nutrients and to support good gut health.
So what makes avocados, berries, garlic, grapes, kale, peppers, spinach, sweet potato and tomatoes such brilliant anti-aging fruits and vegetables? “Most fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins and antioxidants, which are the nutrients that help to keep our cells healthy – and healthy cells lead to healthy looking skin,” explains Emma. “Antioxidants – vitamin C and vitamin E – are found in large amounts in berries, peppers, spinach and avocado, which helps to protect our cells.”
When cells are damaged they can accelerate the ageing process, something we would like to avoid.
“Eating foods which protect our cells can help to keep us looking youthful,” says Emma. “Avocados, for example, are also rich in healthy fatty acids, helping to keep skin moisturised and hydrated.
“Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, which can protect our skin from UV damage, and grapes contain resveratrol – an antioxidant that some research has shown helps to slow down the ageing process.”
As well as looking great on the outside, we would love to make sure everything is running well inside our bodies so we feel young too.
Emma says we don’t have to eat anything different to ensure this happens. “The two go hand in hand: if you look youthful and healthy on the outside it’s likely to be because there’s good stuff going on inside.
Eating antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables helps to keep our cells healthy and protected, which means we stay healthy on the inside as well as looking good on the outside.”
Even more reason to load up on spinach and avocados!