In the past, many of us tended to treat various areas of our body separately. We had specific haircare products to keep our hair healthy, and certain skincare ranges to do the same for our skin. However, a new trend lately is considering overall skin healthy and everything that contributes to your skin. We see this overarching trend in many different ways, from the rise of prebiotic skin care and lymphatic skincare ranges to an increase in multi-purposes products. However, have you ever considered what role your diet plays in your skincare regime? In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the impact of your diet for skin health.
What Impacts Skin Health?
The health of your skin can be impacted by many different factors. These vary from lifestyle factors, such as sleep, stress and diet, to environmental factors such as pollution, sun exposure, and dry air.
Environmental factors that impact skin health include:
- Sun exposure
- Exposure to pollutants
- Dry air
Lifestyle factors that impact skin health include:
- Drinking enough water
- Taking medications
- Health conditions
Unfortunately, there are certain factors that we cannot control, such as underlying illness such as diabetes and the use of certain medications. These can have a negative impact on your skin health, but don’t always have an alternative. Then there are factors that you can control, such as ensuring you get enough sleep, reducing your stress, and eating a healthy diet. In order to unleash your true beauty, it’s important to work on the factors you can control to ensure your skin stays healthy.
Nutritional Strategies To Help You Achieve Your Best Skin Ever
Unfortunately, when it comes to a diet for skin health, there isn’t a single fix solution. This is due to people being different and a diet that works for you, might not be suited to someone else. Also, food allergies can make it even more difficult for certain individuals to participate in certain diets. Very restrictive diets are also notoriously difficult to stick with.
If you are looking for a specific diet to follow that will also benefit the health of your skin, the Mediterranean diet is the best one. This is because the Mediterranean diet includes a lot of antioxidant-rich foods, along with healthy fats, probiotics, and numerous beneficial nutrients.
If you’re not set on following a strict diet, but still want to boost your skin health, here are a few nutritional strategies you can consider.
- Eat Enough Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants which are vital in protecting your cells from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals can be triggered by a number of causes such as smoking, pollution, and sunlight. It’s recommended that you eat at least 5 portions of fruits or vegetables everyday as part of a diet for skin health.
When choosing fruits and vegetables, make sure you include all the colors. Orange fruits and vegetables, like carrots and pumpkin, contain beta-carotene, whereas leafy greens, such as spinach and kale, contain lutein. These nutrients are especially important for skin cell development and a healthy skin tone.
- Get Your Vitamin C
We all understand the importance of vitamin C for supporting our immune systems. However, it also helps to promote radiant skin and speeds up the healing process of blemishes. Aside from that, vitamin C is also required to produce collagen. Collagen is a protein found in the skin that keeps the skin firm, plump, and smooth.
Some of the best sources for vitamin C include blackcurrants, blueberries, strawberries, broccoli, and sweet potato among others.
- Eat Enough Vitamin E
Vitamin E plays an important part in skin health. Its role is protecting the skin from oxidative or cell damage and photo-aging. Vitamin E is one of the most efficient antioxidants when it comes to protecting the skin against the harmful effects of environmental factors such as free radicals. The oxidative stress caused by free radicals can lead to signs of premature aging, swelling (edema), rashes (erythema), and it increases your chances of developing skin cancer or precursor lesions.
Foods to include in your diet for skin health that are high in vitamin E include almonds, avocados, hazelnuts, pine nuts, pumpkin seed oil, and sunflower oil.
- Don’t Forget About Selenium
Selenium is a powerful, and often underrated, antioxidant that works alongside vitamin C and E. Recent studies suggest that selenium plays an important part in protecting skin cells against skin cancer, sun damage, age spots, and skin conditions such as psoriasis, alopecia and others.
The easiest way to ensure you get in enough selenium is by eating Brazil nuts daily. You only need to eat two or three nuts in order to get your daily recommended amount of selenium from Brazil nuts. Other sources of selenium include fish, shellfish, eggs, wheatgerm, tomatoes, and broccoli.
- Remember To Include Zinc
Zinc is another important mineral for skin health as it contributes in keeping the skin supple. Zinc achieves this by supporting the normal functioning of the oil producing glands in the skin. Not only that, but it also plays a part in the healing process and helps to repair skin damage.
Foods that are high in Zinc include fish, lean red meat, wholegrains, poultry, nuts, seeds, and shellfish.
- Add Healthy Fats
Healthy fats such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats act as a natural moisturizer for the skin. Including these types of healthy fats in your diet for skin health will help to keep your skin supple and improve its elasticity.
You can find mono- and polyunsaturated fats in foods like avocados, oily fish, seeds, and nuts. Another benefit is that these foods also come with a healthy dose of vitamin E. You should also consider foods high in omega-3s, which are a type of polyunsaturated fat that’s also anti-inflammatory. Omega-3s form the building blocks of healthy skin and can help alleviate the symptoms of conditions like psoriasis and eczema. Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, sardines, flax seed, chia seeds, and walnuts.
- Add More Phyto-Estrogens
Phyto-estrogens are naturally found in plants and they’re believed to keep natural hormones in balance. These compounds also have a similar structure to the female sex hormone, estrogen. This hormone is an essential component in skin health as it helps to support skin structure and minimize skin damage.
There are different types of phyto-estrogens, such as isoflavones which can be found in soya, tofu, and tempeh. Others, known as lignans, can be found in the fibers of wholegrain, fruits, vegetables, and flaxseed.
- Stay Hydrated
Hydration is very important for skin health. Even becoming slightly dehydrated can immediately be shown in your skin. When you’re not hydrated, your skin becomes dry, dull and can even take on a grayish hue. Water is required to keep the skin supple and allows it to stay flexible.
Try to drink between six to eight glasses of water each day. While other fluids, such as coffee or tea, also count towards this, water is the best to keep you (and your skin) sufficiently hydrated.
- Stick to Low GI-Carbs
GI refers to the glycemic index of foods. It is a system that ranks carbohydrate-based foods on how long the body takes to break them down into glucose. Low GI tends to be a healthier option as these foods are broken down more slowly. As such, they release energy into the bloodstream gradually, leaving you feeling energized and satisfied for longer. Hi GI foods, such as sugary drinks and snacks, are processed very fast which can lead to insulin spikes, energy crashes, and feeling hungry soon afterwards.When it comes to the skin, the insulin spike caused by high GI foods can damage collagen and lead to increased wrinkles.
Low GI foods include beans, pulses, and porridges.
- Beware of Crash Diets
Constantly losing and gaining weight can have a direct impact on your skin. Sagging, stretch marks and wrinkles are just a few of the side effects you can experience if your weight isn’t consistent. Not only that, but most crash diets are restrictive and don’t include all of the essential vitamins and minerals required for healthy skin.
As such, if you decide you need to lose weight, make sure that you research the various diets carefully. Explore the facts surrounding the diet first, and wherever possible, try to read reviews of these diets by experts to gain a better understanding before you try it.
The Benefits of Supplementation in Achieving Healthy Skin From Within
While we’ve just explored the benefits of a good diet for skin health, the reality is that in this modern world it can be difficult to get in all of the vitamins and nutrients required. Time constraints paired with strict budgets and difficulties sourcing high-quality nutrient-dense food can make it a challenge to ensure you get all the nutrients your skin needs.
As such, many skincare brands are taking a more holistic approach and focus on an inside-out approach to skin health. Brands are bringing out supplements to help improve your skin health and ensure you get the required nutrients and vitamins.
While the best approach is still to take in as many of these nutrients as possible through a healthy diet, supplements are a great way to ensure that your body gets everything it needs. However, if you do decide to add supplements to help bolster the effectiveness of a good diet for skin health, make sure to discuss this with your doctor first.
How To Create a Balanced Diet for Skin Health?
When you’re looking for a diet for skin health, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. There’s no denying that the best option is to create a balanced diet – but what exactly does that mean? Basically, a balanced diet means eating a variety of different foods that provide essential nutrients for good health.
When creating a meal plan to improve the health of your skin, focus on including lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, low GI carbs, healthy fats, and nutrient dense foods. You can look at the Mediterranean diet for some inspiration. Make sure to incorporate the skin-health powerhouses below to ensure you’ve got a good plan in place to improve the appearance of your skin.
10 Skin Healthy Foods To Include in Your Diet
When it comes to a diet for skin health, there are certain nutrient powerhouses that you should consider adding to your meal plan. Below are 10 of the best skin healthy foods to incorporate in your diet.
- Bell Peppers
Bell peppers are rich in vitamin C. Only half a cup of these peppers can provide you with your daily requirement of vitamin C. They’re also a powerful antioxidant and support the immune system.
First off, watermelon has a very high water content and can keep you hydrated. Two cups of diced watermelon are equivalent to one cup of water. The hydration provided helps with skin elasticity. However, that’s not all. Watermelon is also an excellent source of vitamin C and beta-carotene to help fight inflammation and protect against free radicals.
Cod, like a lot of seafood, contains a high level of omega-3 fatty acids. These polyunsaturated fats are important in skin function and appearance. Most Americans currently don’t eat enough seafood, and therefore, are deficient in omega-3s. Cod is a versatile option that can be prepared in a number of ways and pairs well with different marinades and sides, making it a good option for many to include. Other options if you’re not a fan of cod include salmon, anchovies, herring, and tuna.
Kefir is a fermented milk drink that’s very similar to yogurt in a lot of ways. It is an amazing source of probiotics which are essential in supporting your gut health. Probiotics support a healthy gut microbiome, which directly impacts how nutrients and minerals from your food are absorbed. You can eat all the best powerhouse foods, but if you have an unhealthy gut, your body will struggle to absorb the nutrients and you’ll notice fewer benefits.
Kefir milk is a great way to get in some probiotics and keep your gut healthy, resulting in better skin health. You can drink kefir milk on its own, or if you prefer you can add it to smoothies or salad dressings. Some people even turn it into cheese which they incorporate into meals.
Walnuts are an excellent source of omega-3s, and contain the highest levels of these polyunsaturated fats than any other nut. Walnuts are also a great source of polyphenols which combat free radicals and inflammation. Walnuts are also a great source of prebiotics, an important prebiotic that feeds probiotics and keeps the gut healthy. Walnuts are also a great source of melatonin, which is essential for good sleep.
Strawberries, like most other berries, contain high levels of vitamin C. Since the body cannot produce this vitamin, it’s important to get it in through food. Half a cup of strawberries contain 50% of the daily requirement for vitamin C. Strawberries also contain fiber and antioxidants which help promote healthy skin. Strawberries contain phenolic compounds, such as ellagic acid, which support the skin and repair damage to cells.
Grapes contain two important compounds that help to combat oxidative stress caused by free radicals. These compounds, allergic acid and resveratrol, also seem to help protect against UV rays if consumed consistently. According to a recent study done, individuals who ate grapes daily for two weeks required more sun exposure before developing a sunburn. Not only can grapes help protect your skin from UV rays, but they also help repair DNA damage, improve preservation of skin cells, and reduce inflammation.
Similar to grapes, tomatoes can also prevent photodamage caused by UV rays. Tomatoes contain lycopene, the same pigment found in skin cells that protect against sun damage. This antioxidant also protects against the damage caused by free radicals.
Mangoes are a great source of beta-carotene. This antioxidant is also essential in helping the skin repair itself and can help your skin stay smooth and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Mangoes also contain vitamin A, which helps in protecting cells and improving their regeneration. Studies are being done to research the effects of mango and the reducing the signs of aging. One study found that eating half a cup of Ataulfo mangoes four times a week showed a significant reduction in wrinkles. However, more studies are needed as these findings are very specific.
- Olives and Olive Oil
Olives and olive oil are a staple in the Mediterranean diet. Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fats and contains antioxidants like vitamin E. This combination can help to support the health of skin, hair, and nails. Olives and olive oil also contain polyphenolic compounds which protect cells against disruption and improve blood flow throughout the body.
Diet for skin health is part of a new trend that encompasses a more overall approach to skin health. By eating the right foods, in the right amounts, you not only improve your general health, but your skin health as well. Being mindful of what you eat can help clear your skin, treat skin conditions, improve your complexion, and reduce the signs of aging.