Lets FACE it, age creeps up on us all. How old we feel isn’t always a reflection of how we look! You can feel frustrated or unhappy with your skins appearance whether you are 16 or 60. At 16 it may be the breakouts and persistent acne that weighs you down. At 60 the lines, wrinkles, sagging and lack of inner glow may be what stares back at you every time you step in front of the mirror.
Skin health really is an inside job. When it comes to skin wellbeing and appearance what you eat and drink is extremely important. What you ingest can either give you smooth, glowing, radiant skin or lack lustre, dry, irritated and inflamed skin.
Though essential to take care of your skin externally in order to protect it from external environmental factors (UVA & UVB rays, pollution, heating + cooling & harsh winds) all which wreck havoc on our skin, dietary choices are the most influential. The connection between nutrition and skin conditions or rather the effect of nutrition on skin health and aging has been an interesting research field for scientists and humans throughout the ages.
You write your skin story with every bite that you take just as you change the microbiota (GUT bacteria) with every mouth full. What you eat becomes who you are instantly. There are no overnight miracles however switching from an inflammatory diet to an anti-inflammatory diet starts to take effect quite quickly.
Our skin is made up of 3 layers. The epidermis the outer most layer of the skin is our border between the inside and outside environment. The epidermis provides a waterproof barrier, makes melanin that creates our skin tone and holds immune cells. The dermis the second layer of the skin holds sweat & oil glands, is the root of hair growth and holds nerve endings. The third layer known as the subcutaneous fat layer is made up of fat and connective tissue. Here body temperature is controlled and this layer of fat attaches the dermis to muscles and bone.
Within these layers there are proteins (collagen, elastin + keratin) and fats which provide skin cushioning as well as assist with communication between our internal and external world through nerve fibres covered by fat. Therefore doesn’t it make sense to nourish and feed our skin with what it is in fact made up of?
Lets look at which foods are going to give you the glow.
The Glow Givers
Lets get things straight–not all fats are created equally. Healthy fats are essential for strong cell membranes, supple hydrated skin, the absorption of nutrients and energy production. In fact much evidence now leads to the conclusion that the replacement of fats from our diet during the low fat era led to the increase in carbohydrate and simple sugars intake which lead to the development of many present day diseases (depression, hormonal imbalances, increased risk of certain cancers, high cholesterol, heart disease, arthritis and skin aliments like eczema and psoriasis).
So which skin loving fats should we be eating daily?
- Avocados (fires up the natural detox process of the liver to flush out unwanted wastes, rich in Vitamin E (antioxidant), B3 – Niacin needed for detox, DNA repair and the reduction of redness and inflammation).
- Olive oil (anti inflammatory, rich in Vitamin E which strengthens cell membranes, protects skin against UV damage & works along side Vitamin C to produce collagen).
- Coconut Oil (made up of medium chained fatty acids coconut oil contains lauric acid an anti viral, anti bacterial component – awesome for skin woes.
- Chia Seeds (complete protein packed with cell strengthening Omega 3 that reduces inflammation. Being full of fibre chia seeds assist elimination meaning there’s less nasties systemically which may lead to skin issues).
- Fats from Nuts & Seeds (protein rich, B Vitamin & Mineral rich).
- Flaxseeds (anti inflammatory Omega 3’s help reduce hormonal levels that can factor in clogged pores and breakouts).
- Salmon & Oily Fish (anti inflammatory Omega 3’s help protect skin from sun damage and keep skin smooth and supple).
Healthy fats are essential for beautiful, glowing, supple skin pushing dryness and inflammation aside.
The reason why fruit and vegetables are so brightly coloured = antioxidants. Antioxidants are compounds found in foods that search and neutralise free radicals. Free radicals cause oxidation and cellular damage which leads to a multitude of issues one of them being collagen breakdown and therefore aging! Examples of antioxidants found in food are Vitamins A, C, E, Folic Acid, Beta-carotene –which gives food the orange pigment, & Lycopene, which gives food its red pigment. In terms of skin loving antioxidant filled foods/drinks think berries, pomegranates, reservatoal found in grapes, vegetables (carrots, pumpkin, sweet potato, zucchini, capsicum, spinach etc), green + white tea, raw cacao, nuts, herbs and spices etc.
Protein is the building block of life, helping maintain structure and function of the entire body. Protein is responsible for repairing and rebuilding muscle and tissue, hair + nail growth, the creation of enzymes and hormones as well as the health and maintenance of internal organs and blood. If we look specifically at Skin – it is in fact 25% protein being made up of three major proteins à collagen, elastin and keratin. Hence, doesn’t it make sense to feed skin with what it is in fact mad of? Skin loving proteins to include in your skin health program à organic free range eggs, salmon + other oily fish, grass feed poultry and meat, raw nuts and seeds, legumes, quinoa and pea protein to mention a few.
Dark leafy greens have a multitude of health benefits. In fact green vegetables are the most nutritious carbohydrate and most nutrient dense of all foods. Anti inflammatory on cellular level, green vegetables are little nutrition powerhouses! They are high in B Vitamins essential for so many processes within our bodies from energy production to hormone regulation, nervous system health and support, digestive health as well as skin, hair, liver and mouth health etc. Greens have great amounts of Vitamin A which supports the turn over and production of new skin cells therefore eating adequate amounts helps prevent rough, dry, wrinkled skin. Greens are high in Phytonutrients and Antioxidants, Vitamins K, C, E, Folate and Carotenoids as well as essential minerals Calcium, Magnesium, Iron and Potassium. Vitamin C plays a major role in, tissue health and healing and importantly collagen synthesis. Greens are full of fibre, which helps keep your GUT healthy and bowels busy at work moving toxins out. Greens get their beautiful colour from Chlorophyll. Chlorophyll has a very detoxifying action on the body. It cleanses the body of harmful toxins, which can lead to hormone imbalances and flare skin ailments. It also oxygenates blood, alkalizes the body’s ph level and improves circulation to increase nutrient supply to skin cells.
Foods rich in the mineral Zinc are also indispensable. Zinc is fundamental to skin integrity as well as healing/renewal of skin cells. Research shows that dietary deficiency of zinc is found in 50% of patients suffering with skin conditions (dry, itch skin, acne). You may be interested to know that 6% of the body’s zinc is found in skin. Foods rich in zinc are oysters, grass fed meat, chickpeas, lentils, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, pecans, walnuts mushrooms, quinoa and tahini.
Humans undergo two types of aging. Chronological aging otherwise known as intrinsic aging determined by genetics. The second type of aging extrinsic aging is the result of external factors mainly UV exposure, environmental pollutions, stress and poor nutritional choices. Hence doesn’t it make sense of take control of what we can to ward off extrinsic aging as much as possible?
Look at for part two of this blog where I will discuss skin traitor foods.