Do you want healthy, glowing, ageless skin? Research has revealed that there may be more to good skin than just genetic and lifestyle factors, and it doesn’t involve expensive lotions and serums. Instead of seeing a dermatologist, consider heading to the grocery store instead, as diet can play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy, youthful complexion.
While there are the obvious things to avoid, such as refined carbohydrates (simple sugar!) and processed foods, others may be less so, like spicy foods, known allergens, and low-fat dairy (or all dairy, if you’re sensitive). Dairy and refined carbs can stimulate oil production, leading to an increase in acne, while spicy foods can be rich in acidic lycopene that throws off your skin’s pH levels. Food allergens can upset the delicate balance of your gut’s microbiome, which can also be reflected in your skin. However, avoiding known complexion-busters is just one part of the equation. You can boost your skin’s radiance, prevent sun damage and cancer, and even stave off aging by making a few conscious choices in your diet. Here’s how:
To fight acne, eczema, and other inflammatory conditions, get more Omega 3 Fatty Acids and Zinc
• OMEGA-3s offer a host of skin-boosting benefits. They help fight inflammation, manage cortisol levels, maintain moisture, and aid in skin repair. An especially good source is fish oil, which contains EPA and DHA, both of which are anti-inflammatory. They are key to fighting acne, eczema, psoriasis, and atopic dermatitis—all conditions caused by inflammation.
Our bodies don’t produce these essential fatty acids on their own, meaning we must seek them out in our diet instead. Food sources include wild-caught fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, and herring, walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and sunflower seeds.
You can also supplement with a fish oil capsule or liquid. But make sure you use a very pure, high-quality brand. Flaxseed oil, walnuts and sunflower seeds are also rich in ALA, an omega-3 that the body tries to convert into low levels of EPA and DHA, as well as moisturizing linoleic acid. You’ll need to consume much more of these foods to get the therapeutic dosage needed for skin health, so supplementation might be your best bet.
• ZINC, a trace mineral, may also play an important role in acne prevention as it helps regulate skin oil production, and a zinc deficiency can lead to an acne problem. Zinc-rich foods include oysters and other shellfish, eggs, pastured meats, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
To improve skin’s elasticity and overall appearance, get more COLLAGEN + VITAMIN C
• COLLAGEN is a fibrous protein that helps our skin retain its elasticity. Because our body produces less as we age, we must support collagen production through diet—and we can find it in the food we eat. There are three amino acids that are essential to the production of collagen: proline, glycine, and lysine. Proline is found in foods such as egg whites, cabbage, and mushrooms and supports the growth and maintenance of connective tissue. Beans, kale, and pumpkinare plant-based sources of glycine, and animal-protein sources include bone-in, skin-on chicken; unflavored, grass-fed gelatin; and pastured bone broths. The body produces some glycine, but it’s often not enough for collagen synthesis without support. The third amino acid, lysine, can be found in black beans, lentils, pepitas, pistachios, and quinoa, as well as red meat, poultry, eggs, cod, and sardines. In addition to helping build collagen, lysine has been linked to better calcium absorption and retention, improved wound healing, and may even reduce feelings of anxiety and lower cortisol levels in some people. Finally, shellfish, beans, nuts, dark leafy greens, prunes, and unsweetened cocoa powder are all rich sources of cuproenzyme, a supportive copper enzyme that links collagen and elastin to help the body create strong, flexible connective tissue. There are a lot of powdered collagen supplements out there, so choose carefully.
• VITAMIN C, a powerful antioxidant, is also a key element of collagen production. Lemon, lime, berries, bell peppers, and dark leafy greens like kale, collards, and parsley, are just some examples of fruits and veggies high in vitamin C. In addition to aiding collagen production, vitamin C’s antioxidant properties help lower cancer risk as well as increase levels of hyaluronic acid in the body, which helps lubricate joints.
To fight against wrinkles and premature aging, get more Vitamin E + Selenium Two other powerful antioxidants, vitamin E and selenium, are essential to skin health and a youthful appearance.
• VITAMIN E fights free radical damage caused by pollution, sun exposure, and processed foods, making it an excellent wrinkle fighter. And, when combined with vitamin A, it is especially powerful at preventing certain types of skin cancer. Rich sources of vitamin E include veggies like avocados, asparagus, and spinach; nuts and seeds such as almonds, pine nuts, and sunflower seeds; oatmeal, olives, and omega-3 powerhouses like walnuts and pastured eggs.
• SELENIUM not only helps maintain skin’s firmness and elasticity, but it also helps the absorption of vitamin E. High selenium food sources include seafood such as snapper, tuna, and herring; walnuts, brazil nuts, onions, and poultry.
To aid skin repair and fight sun damage, get more BETA CAROTENE + VITAMIN A and ZINC
• RETINOL, AKA vitamin A, is the skincare industry’s favorite weapon in the fight against aging. However, you can reap its benefits through your diet rather than expensive topical products.
• BETA CAROTENE, found in brightly colored fruits and vegetables, also converts to vitamin A in the body. While vitamin A helps speed up skin renewal, beta carotene helps reduce free radical damage from sun exposure, acts as a mild natural sunblock, and may even help protect against skin cancer. Great sources of both beta carotene and vitamin A include carrots, sweet potatoes, apricots, cantaloupe, red and yellow bell peppers, eggs, asparagus, and beet and collard greens. Another nutritional powerhouse is broccoli, which not only contains zinc and vitamins A and C, but lutein, which acts like beta carotene in the body.
To protect your skin from harmful bacteria, get more Probiotics and Fiber A healthy gut provides a strong foundation for good health in all aspects of our wellness, including our skin. Because a healthy population of good bacteria in the digestive tract protects the gut lining, our bodies are better able to absorb nutrients and fight bad bacteria. It also supports the skin’s lipid barrier which not only helps retain moisture, but protects against irritants and bacteria.
• PROBIOTIC foods, when combined with FIBER-rich foods, become a skin-saving powerhouse. Probiotics support a healthy gut and fiber delivers the prebiotics the bacteria need to survive, as well as helps our digestive system detox. For rich, whole-foods sources of probiotics, reach for fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, and kombucha, as well as yogurt and kefir if you can tolerate dairy. Viable probiotic sources will be refrigerated instead of shelf-stable, as the latter is likely pasteurized. If your product has been sitting on a shelf, the beneficial bacteria you’re looking for may be dead, so please, please choose wisely. Artichokes, avocados, bananas, pistachios, dark leafy greens, and oatmeal are just a few good high-fiber sources that will support your microbiome.
To support your body’s natural detox process, get more WATER and CRUCIFEROUS VEGGIES Our liver and kidneys are part of our body’s natural detox system, and when they are running optimally, our skin reflects their health. Hydration and cruciferous vegetables can go a long way in supporting the body’s natural detox process. Start your day off right by drinking at last 16 ounces of water, first thing. A squeeze of lemon or dash of sea salt will provide an extra boost of hydrating electrolytes. Vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and kale contain glucosinolates, compounds that optimize liver function and may even help prevent cancer.
Each and every one of these nutrients will not only boost your skin’s health, but will improve your overall wellness. A balanced diet rich in unprocessed, whole foods, helps manage blood sugar, control weight, reduce inflammation, and prevent serious diseases.
If you need help choosing specific products to help supplement your healthy skin diet, please contact me as the process can be confusing, costly, and overwhelming. I’m here to help!