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NDSU Extension Family Nutrition Program

By Trisha Jessen

Nourish Your Skin for
Optimal Health

What do cigarettes, soap, stress, and tanning beds all have in common? These are the four main factors that contribute to skin damage. More than 4,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke damage the skin, resulting in wrinkles and sagging. Some soaps and detergents consistently break down and damage the skinís healthy barriers. Stressful emotions also can affect the skin, leading to conditions such as eczema or psoriasis. And tanning, whether in the sun or in a tanning bed, leads to skin damage and possibly skin cancer from ultraviolet rays. The best way to protect your skin from damaging rays is to use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 before going outside and reapply every hour and a half to two hours. Wearing sunscreen decreases the amount of vitamin D your skin is able to make. To get adequate vitamin D we need 15 minutes of sun exposure about twice per week. We can also look for vitamin D from dietary sources such as milk, eggs, yogurt, and cereal.

Oxidation is the main process that damages our cells. Antioxidants are naturally occurring molecules in certain foods that can help prevent this damage. Focus on fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and fish. Lower your intake of saturated and trans fats as well as sugar and refined flour products. A healthy skin diet is the same as a heart-healthy diet.

If youíd like to make some changes in your diet or lifestyle to improve your skin health, the North Dakota State University Extension Service can help. The Extension Office in Renville County is holding a class at the Glenburn Senior Center on May 8th at 1:00 p.m. This class is part of NDSU Extensionís Nourishing Boomers and Beyond program. The program is designed to provide rural North Dakotans age 50 and older with information and strategies to reduce their risk of developing chronic diseases. If you arenít able to attend class or want more information on the topic covered in a session, visit the programís website Anyone can sign up for the free monthly newsletter by visiting the website.

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