How Eating Healthy Foods Can Make You Look Younger

A healthy diet not only helps you live longer; it can also make you look younger. Certain foods can reverse wrinkles, guard against sun damage, and even promote hair growth. If you want to learn how– and see which foods you need to eat– read on.

Spinach and Kale Can Guard Against Sun Damage

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EyesWideOpen/Getty Images

Did you know that certain foods can prevent your skin from getting sun damage? According to a study in Photochemistry and Photobiology, foods with beta carotene (a form of vitamin A) can guard the skin against UV rays.

These foods include carrots, spinach, kale, sweet potatoes, cantaloupes, squash, and apricots. The less sun damage your skin gets, the fewer wrinkles will form.

It Can Improve Skin Elasticity

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The Creative Exchange/Unsplash

Certain foods can promote skin elasticity, or your skin’s ability to return to its natural shape. In 2008, a study in The Journal of Dermatological Treatment found that fish oil can improve skin elasticity. Why? Omega-3s.

Omega-3 fatty acids heal and protect the skin. Eat fatty fish, nuts, and vegetable oils for this effect.

It Can Lower Inflammation

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When the skin becomes inflamed, collagen and elasticity breaks down, creating wrinkles. Eating antioxidants can reduce inflammation in the skin, according to research in Skin Pharmacology.

Foods with high antioxidants can relieve your skin, such as blueberries, turmeric, broccoli, bell peppers, nuts, and avocado. It can even decrease redness, eczema, and psoriasis flare-ups.

It Can Reverse Wrinkles Over Time

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Free-Photos/Pixabay
Free-Photos/Pixabay

In 2017, research in Nutrients determined that eating vitamin C can smooth wrinkles. Foods with high vitamin C include oranges, chili peppers, parsley, kale, broccoli, brussels sprouts, strawberries, and lemons.

Why does this work? According to dermatologist Patricia Wexler, vitamin C increases collagen production, which thickens and rejuvenates the skin.

It Can Slow Down Biological Aging

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Getty Images

Certain antioxidants can literally slow the biological aging process. According to a 2021 study in Antioxidants, polyphenols protect RNA to help people look and feel younger.

Polyphenols are compounds that naturally occur in plant-based foods. Olives, berries, peppermint, flaxseeds, cocoa powder, artichokes, red onions, and coffee all contain polyphenols.

It Can Promote Hair Growth

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Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

Several vitamins contribute to hair growth, but one of the most important is vitamin D. According to a 2013 study, vitamin D stimulates hair follicles, and a deficiency might cause hair loss.

Vitamin D doesn’t just come from sunlight. You can also receive it from tuna, salmon, egg yolks, mushrooms, pork, and fortified milk products.

It Might Deepen Your Sleep

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Shane/Unsplash

In 2013, scientists from the University Hospitals Case Medical Center concluded that a lack of sleep speeds up skin aging. The amino acid tryptophan is known to produce melatonin, a hormone that initiates sleep.

Tryptophan-filled foods include chicken, milk, tuna, oats, cheese, whole wheat bread, and turkey. This is why many people feel sleepy after Thanksgiving.

It Might Prevent Hair Loss

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BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Certain nutrients can decrease the likelihood of hair loss. In particular, biotin, a form of vitamin H, is often used for hair loss according to research in Skin Appendage Disorders.

Biotin not only keeps your hair healthy but also fortifies it against breakage. Foods with biotin include eggs, beans, bananas, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and mushrooms.

It Can Replenish Collagen

Citrus fruits, including grapefruits, limes, lemons, and oranges, sit in a pile.
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Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Older adults have less collagen than young people, which is what prompts wrinkles. During a 2020 study, researchers determined that eating collagen (in food or supplements) can decrease skin aging.

Collagen naturally occurs in some foods, such as citrus fruits, garlic, soy, beans, avocados, tomatoes, beans, leafy greens, and bell peppers.

It Can Hydrate The Skin

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EyesWideOpen/Getty Images

The dryer your skin becomes the more wrinkles form. During dry months, eat foods with high water content. In 2015, a study confirmed that dietary water can hydrate the skin.

Search for foods with high water content. Fruits such as watermelon, oranges, pineapples, and peaches work. Dark leafy greens and celery also provide water.

It Might Eliminate Acne

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Marcus Hessenberg/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Did you know that many people get acne after age 25? It is called post-adolescent acne, and your diet can combat it. According to the Journal of Clinical Medicine, probiotics can nourish the body’s microbiome, which reduces acne.

Probiotics can be found in yogurt, kefir, some cheeses, pickled vegetables like sauerkraut and tempeh, and fermented soy products like miso and tempeh.

It Can Brighten The Skin

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Certain vitamins can brighten the skin and erase dark spots. According to a 2020 study in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, vitamins C and E are the best for illuminating the skin.

Foods with vitamin C include red pepper, cauliflower, grapefruit, tomatoes, and strawberries. For vitamin E, eat fish, vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds.

It Can Shine Your Hair

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Camerique/ClassicStock/Getty Images

Did you know that foods can make your hair look shinier? According to a 2012 study, fish oil–specifically omega-3s–can improve hair shine. It might also prevent hair loss, but it won’t improve growth.

Beyond supplements, you can receive fish oils naturally through salmon, mackerel, sardines, anchovies, caviar, and oysters.

It Can Push Blood Flow To The Skin

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Courtney Cook/Unsplash

When blood rushes to the skin, through either exercise or diet, it provides nutrients to the skin. It can even absorb UV radiation and guard the skin against sun damage, says registered dietitian Mitzi Dulan. Over time, it can make you look more youthful.

According to the European Journal of Nutrition, flavanols in cocoa can increase blood flow to the skin. Eat raw cocoa powder or dark chocolate for those benefits.

It Reduces The Likelihood Of Skin Diseases

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BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

As people age, their likelihood of skin conditions increases. Healthy fats–specifically monounsaturated fats–can decrease the likelihood of skin diseases.

According to the scientific journal PLoS ONE, monounsaturated fats reduce oxidative stress, which lowers the likelihood of skin conditions and aging. Monounsaturated fats are in avocados, peanut butter, vegetable oils like olive oil, and nuts.

It Might Increase Muscle Mass

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Exercise has anti-aging effects, according to research in Clinical Interventions in Aging. But muscle mass decreases with age. Along with workouts, you can maintain your muscle mass through food.

In 2013, researchers determined that an antioxidant called resveratrol helps to build and maintain muscle mass. Red wine, peanuts, pistachios, blueberries, and dark chocolate offer resveratrol.

It Can Thicken The Skin

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Skin naturally thins with age, which reduces elasticity and creates wrinkles. According to a 2013 study, essential fatty acids–which include omega-3s and omega-6s–can thicken the skin.

The body does not produce enough essential fatty acids, so you should get them from seeds (like chia and flax seeds), nuts (like walnuts and almonds), and vegetable oils (including canola and olive oils).

It Can Strengthen Your Hair And Nails

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Andia/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Keratin is a protein that creates your hair and nails. Certain nutrients increase keratin production, especially an amino acid called L-cysteine, according to a 2018 study in Molecules.

L-cysteine is in protein-filled foods like meat, dairy, beans, nuts, seeds, and protein powders. It might increase keratin production, which will strengthen your hair and nails to prevent breaking.

It Might Remove Free Radicals

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Christine Vasquez Costello/Pinterest

Free radicals are unstable atoms and molecules that damage the skin and make it age quicker. In 2010, research in Pharmacognosy Review concluded that foods with antioxidants can destroy free radicals.

For more antioxidants, eat berries (mainly blueberries), pecans, dark chocolate, plums, strawberries, dark leafy greens, cherries, and beans.

It Might Keep Your Bones Strong

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If you want to remain active and youthful, protect your bones. Bone mass shrinks with old age, and vitamin K is known to increase bone density, according to research from 2017.

Dark leafy vegetables, like spinach and parsley, are nutritious sources of vitamin K. So is pork, chicken, broccoli, brussels sprouts, avocado, apples, and grapes.