When was the last time you looked into the mirror and didn’t see a pair of dark circles staring back at you?
Periorbital circles, the clinical term for dark blemishes under the eyes, develop when blood pools beneath the eyes and causes fragile capillaries to stretch and leak. Because skin under the eyes is thin, the rings formed by this leak stand out. Dark circles can also be caused by hyperpigmentation. This discolouration occurs when an excess of melanin, the brown pigment that produces normal skin colour, forms deposits in the skin. It’s most commonly seen among people with Asian skin tones.
Contrary to popular belief, under-eye circles aren’t caused by tiredness. Genes play an important role — if you inherit fair or thin skin under the eyes, it’s more obvious when blood collects, there. Age is another factor. Over time, skin loses collagen and thins, so veins show through more prominently. Sun exposure accelerates this process by breaking down collagen and blotching skin colour. Seasonal allergies can also trigger the release of histamines in the body, which in turn cause inflammation of blood vessels resulting in swelling.
If you want to put a fresh face forward, preventing dark circles is your best bet. Apart from getting enough sleep, de-stressing and drinking plenty of water, following a healthy diet will help minimise their appearance.
Your daily meal plan should include:
Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies. It gives our skin strength and elasticity, and helps replace dead skin cells. Soy products, dark leafy vegetables, beans and bone broth will increase the collagen in your skin.
Foods high in iron
An iron deficiency – known as anaemia – hinders the supply of oxygen in body tissue and makes under-eye circles more pronounced. Include iron-rich foods such as soya beans, red meat, chia seeds, dried apricots and spinach in your diet.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Sun exposure enhances the severity of dark circles, but its effect can be countered by Omega 3 fatty acids as they protect the skin from radiation. Omega 3 also helps build up the body’s defences against allergies, which are a leading cause of dark circles. Fatty fish, green leafy vegetables, walnuts, flaxseeds, fresh fruits, etc, are all good sources of Omega-3.
Vitamin C packed foods
It strengthens blood vessel walls, inhibits the melanin-producing enzyme, defends cells from free radicals and rejuvenates the skin’s collagen. Broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, tomatoes, strawberries and pineapple are good sources of vitamin C.
Fruits and vegetables loaded with Vitamin K
Regulates blood clotting and strengthens capillary walls to prevent leakage of deoxygenated blood which forms dark circles. Eggplant, kidney beans, oregano, thyme, celery, cucumber, prunes, grapes, pears and plums are good sources of Vitamin K.
Foods full of Vitamin E
A powerful antioxidant, it protects cell tissues from environmental pollutants and the ultraviolet rays of the sun. Vitamin E can be found in nuts, milk, eggs, fish and vegetable oils.
Foods that contain ‘sleep aids’
These foods combat sleep-deprivation dark circles as they prepare the body for a full night’s rest. Melatonin can be found in oatmeal, whole-grain bread, cherries, nuts and oats. Tryptophan is in hummus and almonds. Honey and chamomile, passionflower and lemon balm teas also induce sleep.
Dark chocolate contains flavonol, a compound that improves blood flow as well as serotonin, which helps combat sleep-deprivation and tiredness.
While there are several diet do’s, there are also certain items you should avoid to get rid of or prevent dark circles. Caffeine or caffeinated drinks cause dehydration that worsens under-eye rings. Eating a diet too rich in salt can lead to water retention, which causes the skin beneath the eyes to puff up, making dark circles more noticeable. Moderating your alcohol intake to a glass of wine a day will also be helpful.