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Nourish your skin from the inside out

By Carolyn O’Neil
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Just in time for shopping trips to buy warmer weather’s skin-baring fashions, here’s advice on what to eat to nourish your skin. Nutrition plays a starring role in skin health and anti-aging because skin cells need certain nutrients to repair and regenerate.

We found some inspiration by checking spring fashion trends. The Pantone Color Institute, known for predicting the exact colors to hit runways, chose a palate for spring 2013 that sounds pretty food-friendly.

Lemon zest, nectarine and tender-shoots green are on their top color list, along with poppy red for lips and fabrics. They’re on the top list for skin health, too.

C olor me healthy: Citrus fruit, nectarines and green leafy vegetables are good sources of vitamin C, which is vital for building collagen, which is a spongy network of fibers that keeps skin plump, elastic and wrinkle-free.

Other sources of vitamin C include red peppers, tomatoes, strawberries and kiwi fruit.

For more skin health, think deep red tomato sauce and red peppers for lycopene. This carotene-like compound may even help blunt sunburn damage.

A study in the British Journal of Dermatology showed that lycopene protected against ultraviolet light exposure and reduced premature signs of aging in the skin.

Antioxidants found in a wide variety of plant foods in a kaleidoscope of colors protect against the oxidation or breaking down of cells in the body, including the skin. Don’t want to look like a prune? Eat more of them.

S kin friendly: There’s something to that “fountain of youth.” Drinking water keeps skin moisturized from the inside.

Overdoing it at the bars or even coffee bars can show on your face. Avoid excess alcohol and caffeine, which dries and dehydrates skin and causes fine lines to be more visible.

Drink the equivalent of 8 8-ounce glasses of water a day. Note that some of the fluid can come from water in fruits and vegetables.

Protein and the mineral zinc are also essential for cell repair and wound healing. Sources of protein include poultry, fish, beef, pork, eggs, fat-free or low-fat milk, soy foods, beans, nuts, seeds and nut butters.

Sources of zinc include oysters, legumes or beans, nuts and seeds, oatmeal, poultry, wheat bran and wheat germ.

Healthy mono-unsaturated oils in olive oil and avocados help keep skin moisturized by regulating water content within the cell wall and help the body absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. The fats found in fish and seafood, omega-3 fats, help boost skin health, too.

Carolyn O’Neil is a registered dietitian

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