The health and vitality of our skin is dependent on the foods we consume.
If you want younger, more vibrant looking skin, you have to focus on the foods you are eating on a daily basis. If your diet is lacking variety or important nutrients, you could suffer acne, eczema, premature wrinkles, or just dry, older looking skin.
In a literal sense, “you are what you eat.”
If you are sick and tired of excessive break outs or sallow looking skin, keep reading for my pick of the best 8 nutrients for your skin!
1. Vitamin A and Beta Carotene
If your Vitamin A levels are just slightly lower than normal, your complexion will probably be dry and flaky.
This is because Vitamin A helps maintain and repair skin tissue.
Beta-carotene is an important nutrient to consume because it is converted to Vitamin A in the body!
Fill your plate with lots of the following foods:
- Carrots, Broccoli, Red Pepper, Kale, Collards, Chard, Winter Squash
- Sweet Potatoes
- Apricots, Cantaloupe, Mango, Watermelon, Plums
- Beef, Chicken
- Milk, Cheese, and Yogurt
Selenium is a mineral thought to have anti-cancer and anti-aging properties.
Researchers at Edinburgh University demonstrated that skin cells were less likely to suffer oxidative damage from the sun when selenium levels were high (which equals skin cancer prevention) because selenium helps neutralize free radicals in the body that lead to the deterioration of collagen and elastin.(1)
Start eating the following this week:
- Brazil nuts and Walnuts
- Whole Grain products
- Legumes (soy beans)
- Beef, Chicken, Turkey, Cod, Tuna, Egg, Cheese
Free radicals, like the kind formed from too much sun exposure, can potentially cause damage to the DNA of skin cells.
Fruits and veggies with the highest total antioxidant capacity may help protect the cell from this harmful damage, if eaten regularly.
Below is a list of foods that were found to have some of the highest antioxidant values, according to a 2004 study printed in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.(2)
- Blackberries, Blueberries, Strawberries, Cranberries, Apples, and Plums
- Beans (Kidney, Black, Pinto)
- Artichoke Hearts, Russet Potatoes
- Pecans, Walnuts, Hazelnuts
4. Healthy Fats
Healthy oils help to keep skin lubricated.
Oils that are cold-pressed, expellar pressed, or extra virgin involve the least amount of processing and retain the most nutrients.
The essential fatty acids, like omega 3′s and omega 6′s, help keep cell membrane barriers strong, allowing our skin to retain moisture.
The more moisture in our skin, the plumper and younger it looks!
While we all get plenty of omega 6′s, help keep the omega 6:omega 3 ratio balanced by consuming foods that are also high in omega 3′s.
- Omega 3′s: Oily fish like salmon/ anchovies/halibut, walnuts, flax/pumpkin seeds, kidney/pinto/soybeans beans, spinach, kale, leeks, broccoli, cauliflower, and winter squash.
- Monounsaturated fats: extra virgin olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, avocados, olives, grapeseed oil, whole grain wheat, sunflower oil
- Polyunsaturated fats: safflower, corn, soy, and sesame oil, nuts, and seeds
Anthocyanins strengthen the walls of the tiny blood vessels supplying nutrients to the skin, helping to prevent those pesky spider veins!
When choosing produce think; red, purple, and blue.
- Pomegranates/pomegranate juice
- Purple cabbage
- Concord grapes
- Red currants
Zinc is an especially important nutrient if you suffer from acne, as acne can be in and of itself a symptom of zinc deficiency.
Zinc controls acne by taming oil production and helps decrease skin inflammation, controlling lesions.
Zinc also aids in the maintenance of collagen and elastin.
- Wheat Germ
- Sesame Flour and Tahini
- Roast Beef
- Roasted Pumpkin and Squash Seeds
- Cocoa Powder and Unsweetened Baking Chocolate
7. Vitamin C and E
Both Vitamins C and E are powerful antioxidants that work well together in the fight against skin aging by protecting against ultra violet light, pollution, drugs, and other elements that produce free radicals.
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends these two nutrients together as protection from sun damage (not to be used as an excuse to bake in the sun though!!).
Vitamin C also blocks the conversion of nitrates (found in cigarette smoke and processed meats) in to cancer causing and skin deteriorating nitrosamines.(3)
- Vitamin C: Oranges, Peppers, Strawberries, Cantaloupe, Broccoli, Cabbage, and Baked Potatoes
- Vitamin E: Almonds, Apple, Asparagus, Eggs, Hazelnuts, Avocado, Mango
8. B Vitamins
While the B Vitamins play many crucial roles in the body, they are absolutely essential for normal skin functioning; the growth of new cells and helping to strengthen skin for protection against infection and stress.
- Whole grains
- Fresh, dark leafy greens
The point of this post is not to provide you with a miracle cure for all your skin woes.
I am not intending for you to run out and buy tons of supplements either.
I am more concerned with educating you about the importance of consuming a WIDE variety of WHOLE foods.
Like I said above, “you are what you eat.”
By consuming an abundance of nutrients from lots of WHOLE foods, your entire body will benefit from the inside out!
Beautiful, healthy looking skin is just a small taste of the benefits you receive from a healthy diet!
Now THAT is something to eat about!
[accordion title=”References” load=”hide”]1. Division of Dermatology, Department of Medical and Radiological Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Scotland, UK. Selenium, ultraviolet radiation and the skin. Clin Exp Dermatol. 2000 Nov;25(8):631-6.
2. Wu X, Beecher GR, Holden JM, Haytowitz DB, Gebhardt SE, Prior RL. Lipophilic and hydrophilic antioxidant capacities of common foods in the United States. J Agric Food Chem. 2004 Jun 16;52(12):4026-37.
3. E Bassenge, N Fink, M Skatchkov, and B Fink. ietary supplement with vitamin C prevents nitrate tolerance. J Clin Investv.102(1); 1998[/accordion]