Skin care, diet, lifestyle: A holistic anti-aging approach

Laura Williams, M.S.Ed. is a personal trainer, freelance writer and entrepreneur who works with a wide variety of fitness clients. She's the founder of the popular website, - Girls Gone Sporty, and she's the host of the High Impact Blogg...

Youthful skin from the inside out

You can buy a million products that promise younger, healthier-looking skin, but if you're not taking care of your skin holistically, there's only so much that those products can do. To keep your skin looking youthful for years, makeover your skincare routine with a holistic, anti-aging approach that targets diet and lifestyle change. You may be surprised - it's easier than you think!

Woman looking in mirror

A whole-body approach

Your skin is your body's largest organ, and just like your other major organs, it needs to be treated with care. With that in mind, all the "old rules" apply - exercise, a well-balanced diet, plenty of sleep and a smoke-free lifestyle are all critical to healthy, vibrant skin. Take a minute to ask yourself a few questions:

  • Am I getting at least 180 minutes of cardiovascular exercise each week?
  • Am I getting seven-to-eight hours of sleep each night?
  • Am I eating five to nine servings of fruit and vegetables each day, incorporating rainbow-like variations?
  • Am I eating healthy fats regularly, such as those found in nuts, avocados, fish and olives?
  • Am I doing all I can to avoid first- and second-hand smoke from cigarettes and other tobacco-related products?
  • Am I drinking approximately eight glasses of water each day?
  • Am I keeping my alcohol consumption in moderation?
  • Am I wearing sunscreen every time I go outside?

If you answered "yes" to each of these questions, you're well on your way to keeping your skin vibrant and healthy. Even if a few of your answers were "no," don't worry about it! You just identified the key areas that you should address when making over your skin care routine with a holistic approach.

Read more: 10 New Year skin resolutions >>

The importance of hydration

Water makes up between 50 and 70 percent of a healthy human body, and even mild dehydration can affect the way cells function. When you aren't properly hydrated, your skin may look "deflated" and more wrinkled; plus, failing to drink enough water can slow the removal of waste products from the cells, leading to breakouts and other skin problems. So, pump up and flush out those cells by drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated. This also means limiting your consumption of alcohol and caffeine, both of which can leave you dehydrated.

Read more: Are you drinking enough water? >>

The importance of diet

One of the best ways to keep your skin looking young is to give it the tools it needs to repair itself. Though some skin care products provide topical antioxidants, unless you're consuming a diet filled with these same antioxidants, the products will only do so much. Consuming a diet rich in brightly colored vegetables and healthy fats will ensure that you're receiving the healthy-skin vitamins A, C, E and B-complex. These antioxidants work to fight skin damage caused by the sun and other environmental factors, leaving you with smoother, clearer and more vibrant skin.

Extra tip

Not sure where to start? Pick up red, yellow and dark green fruits and vegetables - these are full of vitamins and minerals. Then, supplement your fruit and veggie intake with several servings of fatty fish each week (think salmon and tuna) and a handful of almonds or walnuts every day.

Read more: Foods that brighten your skin >>

The importance of exercise and sleep

Regular exercise promotes circulation, which in turn promotes healthy skin. According to Dr. Ellen Marmur, exercise stimulates blood flow to the skin, which speeds waste removal from the cells and helps prevent damage from occurring. And if damage does occur? That's where sleep comes in! Your body uses sleep to rest, recover and repair. If you don't give your body the time it needs to do these things, your skin will end up looking dull and droopy.

Video: Sleep and skin >>

Avoiding sun exposure and smoke

In the same way that vitamins and minerals help build stronger, healthier skin, sun and smoke exposure cause skin fibers to weaken and break down, leading to a droopier, more-wrinkled appearance. The solutions are simple: wear sunscreen whenever you head outdoors and avoid smoking at all costs. If you're currently a smoker, or even a sun-tanning enthusiast, it's time to make a change. It's not just your skin that will thank you - your entire body will reap the rewards!

Read more: 10 Reasons to quit smoking >>

More beauty tips

Treating common aging signs on your face
5 Ingredients that help reverse sun damage
How skin affects self-confidence

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