Anti-ageing foods fall loosely into two categories: the first is antioxidants and the other is oils. The most important of these is Vitamin C which is needed to make collagen. Collagen is the ‘glue' that strengthens many parts of the body such as muscles and blood vessels – it's found in the dermal layer of the skin, and it keeps the skin elastic.
Other antioxidants that help the skin (because they work with Vitamin C as tissue-strengthening agents so we don't sag and bag too early on) are grape seeds and blueberries. Good news! Even a glass of red wine contains antioxidants that contribute to tissue fortification, as well as all the brightly coloured fruits which are high in Vitamin C.
Collagen and other substances help make up the structure of both blood vessels and the skin itself. They do two things: strengthen the tissue and help make the intercellular mass stronger. They also help to keep free radicals in check – in other words, help to prevent the damage caused to cells. This can come from things such as cigarette smoke, pollution or ultraviolet radiation, to toxic substances in our food.
Free radical damage has an effect on healthy cells, which translates into tissue damage and shows up as ageing. It's no secret that the parts of our bodies that look the oldest are our face and the tops of our hands, all of which are exposed to the sun. Antioxidants help to protect the cells and tissues in those vulnerable areas.
Omega-3 oils containing fish oil and flaxseed, and also the omega-6 oil found in evening primrose oil are very beneficial for the skin. Omega-6 oil can also be obtained from good quality olive oil, cold pressed vegetable oils, avocados, nuts and seeds, or evening primrose oil in capsule form. Omega-3s come from fish like salmon or tuna, or flaxseed capsules and walnuts.
A balance of Omega-3 and 6 is the way to go: those essential fatty acids help plump up the cells within the skin, so you actually feel as if your skin is softer and less prone to dryness.