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Eat your way to youthful looks

Just why do some people age better than others? We ask the experts for their top advice

You are what you eat

“Cliché or not, the phrase “you are what you eat” is the best way to sum up the relationship between beauty and nutrition, says Niamh Larkin, skincare specialist at health store Evergreen in Mainguard St, Galway. “Skin conditions from acne to eczema can often be remedied with changes to the diet. In general, dairy and sugar are two culprits to avoid for blemish-free, smooth skin. Clean eating doesn’t have to be boring – instead of focusing on what you’re leaving out, get excited about the healthy ingredients you can include instead. Avocados are a great source of healthy fats including vitamin E which is great for healthy-looking skin. Nuts and seeds add protein and are also high in healthy fats, so great not just for skin but also for keeping joints supple and feeling young. Oatcakes and other oat-based snacks are great for sustainable energy and also for calming problem skin from the inside.”

“For maintaining great skin good nutritious food is a given,” says Suzan Turan of health store The Aquarian in Cahersiveen, Co. Kerry. “Go for a diet free from processed foods and drinks. It should contain lots of fresh fish and if you eat meat choose only the most local and chemical-free produce. There are definite benefits from eating good fats (also known as EFAs and omegas) as part of a daily diet, whether that is from fish or a plant source. Aim for the complete elimination of refined sugar, especially the hidden ones in any packaged food. Preservatives and additives are no-no’s too. I suggest you start reading all food labels – if there are ingredients you cannot pronounce, the likelihood is they are not good for your skin. It is all down to a perfectly performing digestive system, from breakdown of food to absorption and distribution to the cells.”

“Drinking plenty of water is probably the most important tip for younger-looking skin,” says Niamh Larkin. “Hydrated skin is happy skin! Aim to drink 2-2.5l of water a day. Boost your hydration by keeping coffee, fizzy drinks and alcohol to a minimum, and incorporating coconut water and herbal teas instead.”

“Ageing is a normal process in life and cannot be avoided. However, the foods you eat can have an effect on overall health including ageing,” says nutritionist Egzona Markolli who works with beauty brand Kinetic. “Extra virgin olive oil also has strong anti-inflammatory effects and may help protect the skin against sun damage which can result in early ageing. Omega-3 fatty acids may protect against inflammation and skin damage that occurs due to sun exposure. Foods rich in antioxidants may also be beneficial to skin – these include berries, dark chocolate, green tea and most fruits and vegetables.”

Lifestyle factors and your skin

“Sleep and peace of mind has a huge impact on people’s complexion and skin tone,” says Suzan Turan. “Both men and women who practise a regular relaxation technique such as meditation, yoga, qigong or t’ai chi tend to have a smooth and youthful glow. They then usually sleep very well and deal well with life’s ups and downs. The most important factor in my view is that we know ourselves and our bodies – this includes stress factors, medication we are taking and the side-effects those may cause. There are no quick fixes – and changes need to become a part of your lifestyle and daily routine.”

Health store help

“Staff in health food stores are trained not only on nutrition and supplements, but also on lifestyle and beauty products, making them a great resource for useful tips and advice,” says Niamh Larkin. “You’ll also find beauty products which don’t harm the earth or your skin – pure oils and butters which don’t contain petroleum, and good foods which can make switching to a cleaner lifestyle exciting and less daunting.”

“The key to youthful skin is choosing a moisturiser packed with co-enzyme Q10 which will help strengthen and firm your skin, increasing elasticity and is proven to reduce fine lines and wrinkles,” says Rowan Green who works with organic beauty and skincare company Pravera. “Q10 is an antioxidant which will protect your skin against free radical damage and help prevent premature ageing. Your skin will be left looking brighter, feeling well-nourished and fresh. Incorporate organic cranberry into your daily routine. This ingredient will do wonders for fine lines and wrinkles and helps prevent skin ageing.”

Top health store picks

Face masks – great for pampering your face once or twice a week. Go for one best suited to your skin type, and always read the ingredient list.

Hair masks and oils – a hair mask once a week keeps hair shiny, healthy and strong.

Epsom salts – in a foot bath 2-3 times per week, not only keeps feet refreshed and rejuvenated but also relaxes the whole body.

Rosewater spray – a great staple for every bathroom cupboard, rosewater acts as a toner after cleansing or can be used as a facial refreshing spray. Great for all skin types.

Body oil – although drinking water is the best way to keep the body hydrated, giving it some extra love with a good quality body oil (rather than cream) can make a huge difference to the appearance and texture of your skin. Avoid artificial ingredients such as liquid paraffin and petroleum-based oils and instead opt for easily absorbed oils such as jojoba, argan or rosehip to get the best result. By Niamh Larkin

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