The most important contributor to skin health is your diet. Your diet can help improve the general look of your skin, and deal with some specific, widespread problems like acne and wrinkles. Antioxidants, omega 3- fatty acids, zinc, Vitamin A, and dietary fiber that have their origin in natural food like fish, can aid in maintaining and improving skin health by stimulating the skin’s hydration status, oil production, thickness, elasticity, and firmness.
How does the food you eat (or don’t eat!) affect your skin? What are, manifestations of a poor diet? And what types of food really make the biggest impact? These questions will all be answered.
So, let’s begin!
Skin health is incredibly important
General skin health should be prioritized because it is crucial for 4 major reasons:
- Maintaining and regulating body temperature
- Healing of wounds
- Immune response to outside threats
- Blood pressure control
Skin health has been a key topic for research and exploration amongst scientists across the globe and it has been discovered that a lot of nutritional deficiencies are first manifested as skin problems!
- Vitamin B 12 deficiency: usually observed as hyperpigmentation issues or discoloration of the skin.
- Vitamin C deficiency: causes scurvy. It can also result in skin hemorrhages.
- Niacin deficiency: pellagra was observed as one of the symptoms. Niacin deficiency causes scaly skin sore.
Learn To Improve Your Skin By Following Traditional Practices
There are reports across the world that individuals who resort to a diet low in sugar and dairy products are less susceptible to acne.
Now, consider the following:
The Yupik in Alaska, are used to consuming a totally traditional diet – and there is no presence of acne. Although it was later found out that the ones who started consuming a stereotypical American diet, high in unrefined carbohydrates, sugar, and fried foods, began to have break outs.
The Zulus in Africa, too, began to get acne only after resorting to such an American diet.
In Brazil, the urban population is as susceptible to acne as is the rest of the world. However, the incidence is much lower in the rural population of Brazil.
What could be the possible reason? Rural people consume a diet rich in nuts, fruits, vegetables, wild game, and other foraged foods. There was a total absence of any sort of processed, packaged, flash fried foods.
The Underlying Connection Between Weight And Wrinkles – Diving Deep To Explore A Way Out
While it’s obvious that malnourishment can affect skin health negatively, so does obesity. Excessive weight gain affects skin health by altering hormone levels, production of oils, vascular circulation, and collagen turnover. Being overweight or obese oftentimes comes from people consuming a diet rich in processed foods like cookies, cakes, burgers, ice-cream, white bread, and not consuming enough fresh fruits and green vegetables.
This renders individuals at a risk of developing a condition known as insulin resistance, which in turn can lead to diabetes. With this condition, insulin doesn’t work efficiently. What normally happens is that insulin, which is a hormone, is liable for ‘unlocking’ the cells so that glucose can gain entry into the cells. Let’s dive deep!
Glucose is the fuel for the body, providing energy for carrying out daily tasks. Now when glucose cannot enter the cells, it begins to accumulate in the bloodstream. This, of course, is dangerous for the body but is also harmful to the health of the skin. It starts to react with the structural proteins, like collagen and elastin, which normally keep the skin firm and provide texture.
This reaction leads to the formation of detrimental by-products called advanced glycosylation end- products or popularly referred as AGEs. These AGEs stick to the walls of the blood vessels. As a result, the structural proteins start losing their efficiency and hence, the skin becomes loose and starts to sag.
When the skin loses its elasticity, wrinklesand fine lines begin to emerge. The skin also becomes more vulnerable to damage by ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
What can you do? A diet rich in antioxidants like fresh fruits and vegetables is crucial for maintaining the health of your skin. Also, meals rich in olive oil and legumes have proven to be beneficial for improving and protecting skin health due to the presence of antioxidants, healthy fats, and vitamins.
Skin appearance and resilience can be improved by increasing the intake of Vitamin C and omega 3- fats from fish, combined with reduced saturated fat and carbohydrate consumption.
Skin health can be optimized even further by vitamins, especially carotenoids (Vitamin A). These are not substitutes for sunscreen, which defends the skin from UV rays, but the intake of a diet high in these nutrients can help protect your skin from UV light damage.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids from plant sources can help boost cell-mediated immunity by reducing inflammation in the skin.
Prevent Acne and Wrinkles By Following These Three Tips
An anti-acne diet mainly consists of three parts:
- Foods – rating low on glycemic index like beans, nuts, lentils, and green vegetables.
- Diet high in zinc such as lentils and red meat due to its known advantage to decrease acne.
- Intake of omega 3- fatty acid rich foods like fish.
A typical anti-wrinkle diet is (more or less) the same as anti-acne diet (by now you should start to see the pattern). Sugary food intake should be avoided, because sugar can have an adverse effect on collagen (the stuff that keeps your skin nice and smooth). Foods rating high on glycemic index, as well as dairy should also be avoided.
According to researchers, the intake of fresh, colored fruits and veggies infuses your skin with natural UVA and UVB fighting antioxidants. They also help maintain the blood sugar levels of the body. Keeping your blood sugar at a moderate level helps keep your skin firm and well textured.
12 Fruits For Your Skin
- Red grape
- Kiwi fruit
- Pink grapefruit
- White grape
- Honeydew melon
Vegetables with the highest ORAC score should be mandatory in your diet. ORAC stands for oxygen radical absorbance capacity. The vegetables ranking high on ORAC scales are beetroot, artichokes, red chicory, cabbage, broccoli, red chili, and yellow pepper. A high ORAC score means more antioxidant activity. Moreover, consumption of inflammation-fighting like mushrooms and cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, cabbage, sprouts, and broccoli are exceptionally beneficial for skin health. Vegetables like tomatoes, squash, carrots, yams, apricots, sweet potato, and beet are rich in carotenoids and antioxidants.
14 Nutritional All-Stars For Your Skin
- Sprouts: usually termed as little food factories because they synthesize vitamins and enzymes within themselves. These very enzymes aid in digestion and help in breaking down fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. An average adult should consume at least one serving, and one serving itself is sufficient to meet the daily requirement of 40mg of Vitamin C. Sprouts alone are responsible for elevating the levels of Vitamin B in the body by 20 – 30%, particularly regarding Vitamin B1, folic acid, and biotin.
- Fish: Fish is a rich source of omega 3- fatty acids. Individuals having fish once a week had 60% fewer chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Eating fish also reduces your chances of developing heart disease significantly. Fish contains many important vitamins and minerals.For example, Pomfret, also known as Black Sea Bream or Angel Fish is filled with Vitamins D and B12, magnesium, and calcium.
- Apricot: apricots are excellent sources of B vitamins, vitamin A, vitamin C and lycopene which makes them beneficial for your skin. Apricot oil is obtained from the dried seeds of the fruit. This essential oil produced inside the kernel is rich in gamma-linolenic acid which boosts regeneration of skin cells. The light non-greasy oil is full of Vitamins A and E making it a great skin hydrator.
- Dark chocolate: chocolate is a primary source of nitric oxide. This aids in keeping the blood pressure under control and is more efficient than red wine. It also scores over green tea in phenols and flavonoids (which act as an antioxidant). And antioxidants are great for your skin. Dark chocolate stimulates endorphins because it contains serotonin, which keeps you in a positive state of mind.
- Yogurt: naturally fermented and refrigerated yogurt contains more probiotics and populates your gut with healthy flora and fauna which are important for the proper digestion of foods. These also protect against colds and flu.
- Leafy green vegetables: leafy green vegetables are rich in antioxidants. Studies have found that minimum of one serving a day improves the cognitive ability in addition to benefitting heart and bone health and preventing cancer. Spinach deserves special mention over here because it is a rich source of omega 3 fatty acids. Intake of spinach not only works wonders on your skin, but it also adds 2.2 years to your life.
- Beans: beans are full of fiber, phytoestrogens, and are a low-fat source of protein. Beans are also high in calcium, folic acid, and Vitamin B6.
- Berries: berries naturally have higher levels of antioxidants. Antioxidants are wonderful for maintaining skin health. Moreover, they lower the risk of heart diseases, diabetes, cognitive impairments, and some types of cancer. Blueberries, cranberries, and black currants are also extremely beneficial to your health. Similar benefits can also be attained from Cape gooseberry, which is a rich source of Vitamin C, and Indian gooseberry.
- Purple cabbage: it has the same antioxidants as berries. Purple cabbage is also utilized as a healthy and colorful garnish.
- Nuts: raw nuts should be a-must in your diet. These are full of omega 3- fatty acids and Vitamin E which work wonders on skin and hair. Five or more 140-gram servings of nuts in a week cut the risk of developing heart disease by half.
- Tomatoes: food items like plums, tomatoes, prunes, pears, beetroots, apples,and bell peppers are rich in boron and phytoestrogens. Antioxidants in tomatoes results in radiant skin. Boron increases the body’s ability to hold on to estrogen. It also helps ease menopause symptoms. It is responsible for keeping our bones strong by reducing the amount of calcium excreted each day.
- Ground flaxseeds: flaxseeds are filled with fiber and omega 3s which not only maintain healthy skin but has positive effects on keeping your immune system strong. Grind them up and add to yogurt, oats, salads, pancakes, soups, sandwiches, or anything you desire!
- Coconut oil: coconut oil is a blessing for mankind. The oil prevents any kind of bacterial infection on the skin. Moreover, it contains lauric acid and medium chain fatty acid which is easily absorbed and digested. The natural saturated fat promotes good cholesterol (HDL) and reduces bad cholesterol (LDL) in addition to keeping the heart healthy.
- Brown rice: brown rice has all the Vitamin B’s, as well as zinc, magnesium, chromium, and calcium.
Healthy Diet, Healthy Skin, Healthy Self
The path to a healthier skin starts with a healthy diet. The good news is that a lot of the foods you would consume for healthy skin have other positive impacts on the rest of your health too! Therefore, healthy skin is an expression of your overall health.