Advisable to nourish your skin for optimal health

What do cigarettes, soap, stress and tanning beds have in common?

These are the four main factors that contribute to skin damage.

Chemicals in tobacco smoke can damage the skin, which results in wrinkles and sagging. Some soaps and detergents consistently damage some of skin’s healthy barriers. Stress can affect the skin, leading to conditions such as eczema or psoriasis. And tanning, whether in the sun or in a bed, leads to premature aging and possibly skin cancer from ultraviolet rays.

Certain foods can help prevent damage to skin. They include fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and fish. Lowering your intake of saturated and trans fats, as well as sugar and refined flour products, also can reduce the risk of skin damage.

A healthy skin diet is the same as a heart-healthy diet.

If you’d 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 Ward County is holding a class at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, May 28, at the Ex-servicemen’s Room of the Ward County Courthouse, 315-3rd St. SE, Minot.

This class is part of NDSU Extension’s 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. However, any adult can benefit from the information.

Nourishing Boomers and Beyond offers classes on a different topic each month. Participants will be able to take part in hands-on activities and discussions, and they’ll receive material such as handouts and healthful recipes to take home.

Visit the program’s website at ( if you aren’t able to attend a class or want more information on the topic covered in a session. Anyone can sign up for the free monthly newsletter by visiting the website or contacting your local Extension office. Participating county Extension offices will have Facebook pages to interact with their clients, and we’re now on Pinterest at “nourishboomers.”

Also visit ( to see if a Nourishing Boomers and Beyond class is being held near you.

Things you’ll learn about in May include how to perform skin cancer self-checks, how and when to supplement with vitamin D, and how to make a facial with ingredients from your kitchen.

(Ellen M. Bjelland is a family and consumer science extension agent with the Ward County office of the NDSU Extension Service.)