By JJ Virgin

As she walks into the room, you focus on her sleeveless gauzy dress that accentuates her toned arms and defined physique. You notice her radiant smile. Most of all, you want to ask her how she got such glowing, healthy, vibrant skin.

Summer doesn’t allow much room for concealment. Whereas during colder weather you can hide behind baggy sweaters and loose-fit pants, sweltering July days practically demand exposed skin and form-fitting attire.

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Likewise, many women forego makeup for that sexy au naturale look. Unfortunately, too many late-night barbecues and hours lazily basking in the sun can leave your skin looking haggard, tired, and flakey.

Glowing summer skin starts not from exorbitant department-store creams but from what you eat. Beauty comes from within, and the best dermatologist and cleansers can’t rescue a bad diet’s effects on your skin.

These five strategies can boost your complexion for younger, healthier skin no matter what the season.

1. Make an oil change. Vegetable oils and processed foods are loaded with inflammatory fats that help neither your waistline nor your complexion. Swap them for extra virgin olive oil (drizzling on salads), olive oil (sautéing), and coconut or red palm oil (high-heat cooking). Avocado, olives, and coconut milk also provide good fat for glowing skin. Raw nuts and nut butters make healthy snacks rich in good fat. A study in the Journal of Lipid Research found the omega 3 eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) in fish and fish oil could help prevent skin aging. If you’re not eating wild-caught fish several times each week, supplement with high-quality essential fatty acids formula.

2. Eat from the rainbow. A variety of fruits and vegetables provide valuable nutrients and antioxidants that support healthy skin. As you get older, your collagen breaks down, leading to wrinkles. Since your body requires vitamin C to synthesize collagen, you’ll want to get optimal amounts from fruits and vegetables like broccoli and berries. You’ve probably heard about resveratrol in grapes, blueberries, and yes, red wine. A study in the journal PLoS One found this anti-aging compound could prevent age-related skin disorders.

3. Dump the sweet stuff. You know sugar isn’t doing you any favors, and that especially proves true with your skin. Sugar attaches to collagen in a process called glycosylation. Scientists call these sticky proteins advanced glycolated end products, with the appropriate acronym AGEs, since in this case they age your skin. A study in the journal Experimental Gerentology found that skin AGE accumulation contributes to the loss of skin elasticity. Learn to satisfy your sweet tooth with low-glycemic berries and other fruits, sweet potatoes, and vanilla.

4. Eat protein for healthy collagen. High-quality protein like wild salmon and grass-fed beef offer optimal amounts of collagen-building amino acids like lysine and proline. Animal protein also contains zinc. A study in the International Journal of Dermatology found this mineral provides excellent antioxidant protection for healthy skin. I start every morning with a protein shake that combines plant-based (but not soy) protein powder, unsweetened coconut milk, berries, kale, and flax or chia seeds. Talk about a fast, filling, fat-burning breakfast that’s also fabulous for your skin!

5. Hydrate. Once you realize you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated, which takes its toll on your skin. Always keep a canteen with purified water nearby to quench your thirst and hydrate your cells so nutrients stay in and toxins get out. Proper hydration means you sweat more efficiently to keep your skin glowing and looking fabulous. A study in the journal Wound Repair and Regeneration showed that about two cups of water every day improved blood glow to your skin. I want you to drink half your body weight in water ounces, starting with a big glass first thing in the morning. The only time you shouldn’t drink is during meals, when too much liquid can dilute stomach enzymes that break down protein.

This article was written by JJ Virgin and originally published on June 24, 2013.

© 2013 JJ Virgin & Associates, Inc.

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