What to eat for healthy skin. Prevent acne, sun damage and age gracefully from the inside out!
Wouldn't we all love perfect skin? As our largest organ in the body, having healthy skin isn't all about looks. Skin vitality can convey important messages to us about our internal health status. If you are having skin problems, chances are that what is happening on the outside has a link with a biological process on the inside. As you know, one of the most important and direct influencers on our health is nutrition and diet. Therefore, this article is going to address some of the most important minerals and nutrients for healthy skin, as well as highlighting some of the culprits that cause acne, spots and premature ageing.
What to avoid:
Refined or high sugary foods, dairy, processed foods and oily foods.
Nutrients that your skin loves:
Vitamin C and E
Vitamin C stabilises collagen and collagen synthesis . It works as an antioxidant, scavenging free radicals and protecting the skin against oxidative damage. Vitamin C can work effectively against UV damage, support the production of fibroblasts and repair oxidised vitamin E, making it most effective when combined with vitamin E . Vitamin C is effective at protecting skin when taken orally. Minimal evidence exists for topically applied vitamin C as it cannot be easily absorbed into the skin . Like vitamin C, vitamin E is an antioxidant and can help to prevent UV damage and collagen cross linking . Vitamin C containing foods include oranges, apples, strawberries, spinach, bell peppers, broccoli, tomatoes and more . Avocados contain healthy fats combined with vitamin C and E . Sunflower seeds contain vitamin E and selenium .
Vitamin A also works as an antioxidant . Its precursors, carotenoids including lutein and zeaxanthin, act as blue light filters and can help to prevent sunburn (as a natural sunblock) and subsequent UV damage . In addition, vitamin A can help to reduce dry and wrinkled skin . However, it is important to note that vitamin A is not recommended for supplementation, as consuming high amounts can have harmful effects. It is therefore important to focus on vitamin A containing foods to ensure a safe amount is consumed. Yellow and orange foods and green leafy vegetables contain carotenoids . Sweet potatoes and red and yellow bell peppers contain beta-carotene . As well as vitamin C, broccoli and tomatoes contain vitamin A, and lutein . Carotenoids absorption can be helped with a health fat rich as avocado or olive oil .
Vitamin D is a two edged sword. Whilst this vitamin is beneficial for skin, it is also obtained largely through sunlight exposure, which could cause UV damage. Vitamin D works to protect cells from apoptosis (cell death) from UV damage . It also reduces the risk of skin infections . A supplement can be recommended during winter time with safe sunlight exposure and the use of suncreams where necessary to obtain vitamin D without skin damage .
Polyphenols have anti-oxidative effects, work against UV radiation, DNA damage and reduce skin cancer risk . They also help to reduce inflammation and infection risk . Fruit, vegetables, cereals, tea and coffee contain many types of polyphenols. Green tea contains polyphenols and can reduce the risk of UV damage, tumor growth and inflammation . In addition, they have been shown to act as antioxidants, preventing oxidative damage to the skin . However, these benefits are seen only from concentrated tablets . Green tea is also a better alternative to ordinary tea as the milk can reduce the effect of antioxidants . Soy, such as tofu or soya milk, contains isoflavones, a type of polyphenol . Curcumin (tumeric) can help to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation . Dark chocolate contains low sugar and antioxidants which are beneficial for skin health .
Prebiotics and Probiotics
These may help to modulate the skins natural immune system and reduce skin allergies by producing antimicrobial peptides that help to eliminate bacteria . Pre and probiotics also have a beneficial effect on the health of the microbiome (the guts natural bacteria) and this has links between inflammatory diseases such as psoriasis, acne and cancer . Pre and probiotics can be supplemented or are found naturally in high fibre foods such as bananas, wheat, asparagus and leeks, sauerkraut, tempeh, kimchi, miso, kombucha and pickles.
Essential fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6)
The omegas are essential fats that help to regulate cholesterol, reduce skin dryness and skin atrophy (reduction of skin cells and size) and reduce inflammation from UV exposure . ALA, a specific fatty acid, also works as an antioxidant to prevent oxidative damage to the skin and increase blood flow to the skin which can help with wound healing . Walnuts contain essential fatty acids such as omega-3 and omega-6 as well as zinc, selenium, and vitamin C and E . Broccoli, spinach and brussel sprouts contain ALA .
Zinc and Selenium
Zinc is involved in cell creation and morphogenesis of the skin. It is also assists to repair damaged skin, maintenance of skin proteins and enzymes and stabilise cell membranes . Broccoli, wheat germ and wholegrain contain zinc . Selenium is an antioxidant and it can help to protect the skin from infection . Selenium can be found in Brazil nuts, grains and breads .
Water is arguably one of the most important components for healthy skin. Water keeps the skin hydrated, flushes out toxins and gives skin a smooth plump appearance. Drinking more water is one of the easiest changes that anyone can make for their health, not only for their skin! You can start straight away by grabbing yourself a glass of water now .
Overall, the nutrients to include in a diet that supports healthy skin are vitamins A, C, D and E, polyphenols, pre/probiotics, essential fatty acids (omega-3), zinc, selenium and water. These include natural antioxidants from a healthy diet high in fruit and vegetables, as well as nuts and seeds, wholegrains, tumeric, high fibre foods, fermented foods and dark chocolate. Combined with optional supplementation of green tea and vitamin D (during winter) with emphasis on safe sunlight exposure . Healthy, plump, glowing skin is something that everybody can achieve. Start from the inside out.
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