Why a good diet shows on your face

Some people seem to be naturally blessed with the smooth, clear skin that radiates ‘good health’. But better lifestyle habits go some way towards getting that healthy glow

Healthy looking skin has more of those youthful qualities: elasticity, an even tone and a glow from within. But why do some of us lose these qualities more quickly than others, causing us to look older?

Genetics has a big part to play in the speed and degree of ageing in the skin, but research has shown that environment and lifestyle have an impact, too. Significant skin damage is caused by smoking. Research comparing smoking and non-smoking twins has revealed skin sagging, wrinkles and dark under-eye circles as key signs, as well as pigmentation and scaly skin. Pollutants in cigarettes deprive cells of oxygen and cause premature cell death, and exposure to high levels of air pollution is also associated with skin ageing and inflammatory skin disorders such as acne, eczema and psoriasis.

And then, of course, there’s the sun, whose UV rays can cause damage even on a cloudy day. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), large doses of UVA rays cause ageing. They penetrate the upper layers, affecting connecting tissue and blood vessels, which leads to wrinkles. They’re also linked with enhancing development of skin cancer. UVB rays trigger the production of melanin in the skin, causing it to tan, and they, too, increase the risk of skin cancer.

So what diet and lifestyle choices can we make to offset some of the damage?