The Diet Detective: The Best Foods to Nourish Your Skin

Beta carotene: "Beta carotene (a form of vitamin A) is involved in the growth and repair of skin tissue and may protect against sun damage," says Bauer. "In extremely high doses, straight vitamin A from supplements can be toxic, but ample beta carotene from foods like sweet potato, pumpkin, carrots, mangoes and apricots is entirely safe and great for your skin."

Selenium: "This helps safeguard the skin from sun damage and delays aging by protecting skin quality and elasticity," says Bauer. Food sources include Brazil nuts, tuna (canned light in water), crab and wheat germ.

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Coenzyme Q10: According to Baumann, research at University of Miami has demonstrated a positive result from using a coenzyme Q10 supplement to treat skin cancers. She recommends 200 milligrams every morning because it has a caffeine-like effect. Coenzyme Q10's effects are cumulative and not immediate.
 
Glucosamine: Available as a dietary supplement, it increases hyaluronic acid levels, which helps skin hold onto water and gives it plumpness, says Baumann. Results can be seen in four to six weeks.

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What can actually damage your skin?

Sugar: Sugar can be very detrimental to your skin. It increases acne and may speed aging by causing glycation--the result of sugar breaking down and bonding with protein molecules. This reduces the elasticity of the collagen and leads to tougher, wrinkled skin, says Baumann. "Sugar is very bad for the same reason that poorly controlled diabetics have more heart disease and blood vessel damage (due to glycation of these tissues)," adds Talbott. The same effects can occur to the skin due to excessive blood sugar fluctuations." A recent study shows that refined sugary foods that promote inflammation may also negatively affect the skin, says Bauer.
 
Spicy foods: "If you are prone to facial flushing, hot (temperature) or spicy foods will increase flushing, leading to dilated visible blood vessels on the face," says Baumann.

Caffeine: It can dehydrate you, but it also has an anti-inflammatory and anti-aging effect. It is the most popular ingredient in cellulite creams and is a hot new ingredient in many skin-care products, adds Baumann.

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Alcohol: Red wine has two substances that prevent aging: grape seed extract and resveratrol. However, too much alcohol leads to free radicals, which age the skin, says Baumann.

Chocolate and greasy foods: Most of the research says that chocolate doesn't specifically affect your skin; however, foods that are high in saturated and trans fats have been shown to do so. Plus, chocolate has sugar. 

Stress: "This can increase oil production in the skin (via cortisol overexposure), leading to clogged pores and an environment suitable for bacteria-overgrowth," says Talbott. "In addition, cortisol overexposure can increase inflammation."

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