The Simple Food Rule For Great Skin: A Dermatologist Explains

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As an artist, I've always been mesmerized by the color spectrum of a rainbow—the way light enters a raindrop and reflects into seven different beautiful hues: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.

But I'm also a doctor, and I get to incorporate my appreciation for color into my integrative dermatology practice, too. That's because eating a full color spectrum of fruits and vegetables can promote internal and external wellness.

I believe that what you eat becomes you. Foods can be rich (or poor) in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, bioflavonoids, and phytonutrients, all of which influence and affect our health. In my practice, we respect the connection between physical beauty and internal wellness by taking an integrative approach to skin care. When your mind, body, and soul are nourished by healthy foods, your outer being will mirror its inner beauty.

So to create a reflection of overall health, start by eating a full color spectrum of fruits and vegetables every day. After all, just as the rainbow reflects what’s inside, so do we.

Here are seven reasons eating a colorful diet can benefit your health and beauty:

1. Prevent disease.

Red foods: Lycopene, which is found in red fruits and vegetables, plays a big role in helping to prevent cancer throughout the body. This compound protects tissues exposed to UV radiation and is a potent, free-radical-fighting antioxidant. Free radicals are molecules found within all bodies that promote disease. Antioxidants, such as lycopene, fight these molecules so your immune system can keep you healthy.

The best source of lycopene comes from tomatoes, watermelons, and pink grapefruit.

2. Get glowing skin.

Orange foods: It's a known fact that eating a lot of carrots or foods rich in carotenoids can give the skin a sun-kissed appearance. And who doesn’t love that summery glow?

Studies show that foods such as cantaloupe and sweet potatoes can make our skin appear healthier and give it a yellow glow that's considered more attractive than a suntan—and certainly safer!

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3. Reduce the risk of cataracts and stomach cancers.

Yellow-orange foods: Citrus plants, carrots, sweet potatoes, and yellow beets contain alpha- and beta-carotene. These are important to have in your diet, because once in the body they turn into vitamin A. Research suggests that eating foods full of vitamin A, alpha-carotene, and beta-carotene can lower your risk of some stomach cancers.

In addition, they help in hormone synthesis, healthy cell growth and turnover, and immune responses. Plus, bright yellow-orange egg yolks contain lutein and leaxanthin, which can reduce your risk of chronic eye diseases, including macular degeneration and cataracts.

4. Flush out toxins.

Yellow foods: A pH-balanced body is a healthy body. Yellow raw lemons not only boost the immune system but also aid in digestion and help cleanse the liver.

I recommend replacing your morning cup of joe with a steaming mug of lemon water to flush out toxins and to have an alkalizing effect.

5. Stay strong.

Green foods: A high consumption of leafy greens such as spinach, kale, and Swiss chard is critical in preventing age-related conditions. And a lack of vitamin K—leafy greens are a great source—in your diet can lead to cardiovascular disease and weak bones. Leafy greens also contain chlorophyll and nitrate, which can improve muscle energetics and metabolism.

The good news: one cup of raw kale provides you with more than six times your daily dose of vitamin K!

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6. Age gracefully.

Indigo foods: Resveratrol has been dubbed the longevity molecule, since it's been suggested to help slow the aging process. In a 2013 study, it was found that resveratrol mimics the effect of calorie restriction (which we know slows the aging process) with similar effects on metabolism and aging.

Foods in the indigo family contain resveratrol, anthocyanidins, and other compounds that protect the heart, plus support brain and bone health. So to promote healthy aging, eat more purple cabbage, blackberries, eggplant, beets, açai, blueberries, and red grapes. Added bonus: red wine is included! (As always, drink responsibly.)

7. Boost your immune system.

Whites and grays: Foods lacking in color can also be full of benefits for the body—and immeasurably tasty. Cauliflower, mushrooms, onion, and garlic all fall into this category. Garlic, for example, is a natural health remedy that strengthens the immune system; it’s known antiviral properties can fight infections, congestion, and the flu.

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