"Foods that are high in sugar and simple carbohydrates speed up aging," says Wu, who adds that sugar is public enemy No. 1 when it comes to skin health. Neka Pasquale, acupuncturist, herbalist and certified Chinese nutritionist, agrees. "Your sugar intake can have profound effects on your appearance. It promotes dull, brittle skin through a process called glycation, and causes skin inflammation and wrinkles," says Pasquale.
Superfoods, on the other hand, may be the aging antidote you're seeking. Research suggests that some foods help protect against sun damage by amping up skin's defense against UV rays, while others ward off wrinkles caused by free radicals.
Here are the seven skin superfoods to reverse the clock from the inside out.
Image courtesy My Web Grocer
For Plumper Skin
There is a fountain of youth, and it's water -- simple as that, according to Wu. "Drinking water in general is good for your skin; it hydrates to keep your skin looking plump and aids digestion, which helps with acne breakouts," says Wu.
Get an extra dose of beauty benefits in your hydration routine by adding cactus water to the mix. Though coconut water has long been the plant-water darling, cactus water aims to change that. The drink contains tough-to-come-by antioxidants known as betalains, which are said to detoxify and revitalize skin. What that could mean for you: an extra-glowy complexion and less under-eye puffiness. Though more research is needed, animal studies have shown that cactus extract can help fight the effects of the sun's skin-damaging UV rays, while human studies suggest that taking prickly pear extract helps to regulate blood sugar.
Wu suggests drinking cactus water after binging on sweets to help your body handle the sugar overload. She warns to be careful of the type of cactus water, though -- some have added sugar and flavors. Look for cactus water with just prickly pear extract added.
Image courtesy 9th of June
For a Glowing Complexion
Considered the liquid gold of the nutrition world, chlorophyll is a chemical that gives plants their green color. In people, the antioxidant-rich extract helps produce red blood cells, imparting a youthful, got-it-from-the-greens glow.
You can find liquid chlorophyll (derived from alfalfa, algae, spirulina or wheat grass) at your local health food store. We're partial to the mint-flavored kind, which makes for a refreshing pick-me-up when added to water or iced tea.
Image courtesy Shutterstock
For Softer, Wrinkle-Free Skin
Cue the jumping for joy: Butter, yes, butter has made it on our list of skin superfoods. Ghee, a staple in Indian cooking, is clarified butter that has been boiled down to remove the water content and dairy elements. Compared to regular butter, it's high in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin K, which Wu says help maintain skin elasticity and prevent bruising, respectively.
The superfat is especially popular among the Paleo set, many of whom drink ghee-spiked coffee (also known as Bulletproof coffee). Ghee advocates claim they have more energy, clearer skin and brighter eyes. Wu admits that ghee is a healthier alternative to standard butter, but "it's still saturated animal fat." Translation? Eating too much of this fat in the name of clear skin won't do your figure any favors.
Image courtesy Incredivape
Banish Cellulite and Your Ruddy Complexion
Green juice may soon lose its status as the "It" accessory of the wellness elite as bone broth creeps onto the scene. As the name suggests, bone broth is made by boiling animal bones and vegetables for several hours, then straining the liquid. The idea is that the bones and their marrow release nutrients over time -- the longer they're boiled, the more nutrients are released.
Depending on the type of bones and vegetables cooked, this trendy broth can contain skin-saving ingredients like calcium, magnesium, sulfur, phosphorus and glucosamine, which, research suggests, can soothe inflammation, translating to less-blotchy skin. And, according to Pasquale, because it's a good source of collagen, bone broth may help with cellulite and promoting toned, youthful-looking skin.
Image courtesy Shutterstock