Skin Health Starts in the Kitchen

What you apply to your hair or skin is just as critical as the food sources you consume from both the inside and the outside. Since your skin is an expression of your underlying health, good nutrition, getting enough sleep, reducing stress, and staying hydrated, all play a role in creating better-looking, healthy skin. Your hair, teeth, nails and skin are all a reflection of this.

On a physical level, the best way to slow the appearance of skin aging is to keep skin well hydrated with a nice layer of lipid (fat) beneath the skin to protect the internal moisture. You can do this in part by eating a healthy diet that includes some healthy fats (omega-3s and monounsaturated fat), drinking plenty of water, and having a good skincare regimen to condition the skin and minimize moisture loss.

So what foods should you choose to boost your chances of having healthy skin? Check out the skin-friendly nutrients and the foods that are richest in them.

Antioxidants

Many dermatologists believe that the major antioxidants (Vitamin A, C, and E) can help decrease the risk of sun and other environmental damage by disarming wrinkle-causing free radicals—unstable molecules that damage cells. A recent study of healthy men and women in the Netherlands found a significant link between the level of vitamin A in the blood and skin condition. Getting your carotenoids (phytochemicals that your body converts to vitamin A) from foods is your safest bet, because you're far more likely to get too much vitamin A from supplements than from foods rich in carotenoids. Vitamin A rich foods include: carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, mangoes, spinach, cantaloupe, greens, kale, swiss chard, and tomato-vegetable juice.

Vitamin C is a potent topical antioxidant, but mostly in its active form—the same form you get from food. Of course, including vitamin-C rich fruits and vegetables in your daily diet is a good thing to be doing for your health anyway. Top food sources of vitamin C include: fresh squeezed orange juice, grapefruit juice, papayas, strawberries, kiwis, red and green peppers, cantaloupes, tomato-vegetable juice, broccoli, mangoes, oranges, Brussels sprouts, grapefruit, cauliflower, and kale.

More research is under way on the possible benefits of vitamin E as topical ingredient, but for now it seems to benefit the skin most as a skin conditioner. Food sources of vitamin E include: vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, olives, spinach, and asparagus. The reality is that it's difficult to get much of this vitamin from foods so many people take a supplement. Of course, check with your doctor and the pay attention to the recommended dosage, so you don’t overdo it.

Choose Healthy Fats

Heart and joint-friendly omega-3 fatty acids may be skin-friendly too. According to a few recent studies on fish oil supplements, the omega-3s from fish may help to guard against long-term sun damage. While there's certainly more to be learned about the benefits of fish-oil supplements it makes sense to increase your intake of foods high in omega-3s.

Top food sources of omega-3s include: fish, ground flaxseed, walnuts, and eggs. Switching to a higher omega-3 cooking oil, like canola oil, can also help increase your intake. Research has shown monounsaturated fats to be associated with favorable skin pH (the balance between acidity and alkalinity that is important for healthy skin). Top food sources with mono-unsaturated fats include: olive oil, canola oil, almond oil, hazelnut oil, avocados, olives, almonds, and hazelnuts.

Eat REAL Whole Foods

Wilma Bergseld, MD, head of clinical research in dermatology at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, said that she makes a point of telling her patients to eat a healthy diet of whole foods. She noted that the same diet that protects against disease is notably good for the skin. Additionally, researchers at Monash University in Australia may have helped to prove Bergseld's point with a recent study. The researchers looked at the diets of about 450 people age 70 and up from Australia, Greece, and Sweden. They found that those who ate a diet containing more alkalizing whole foods—vegetables, fruits, legumes, eggs, yogurt, nuts, oils rich in monounsaturated fats, real multigrain bread, tea, and water—had less wrinkling and premature skin aging than those whose diets were rich in whole milk, red meat (particularly processed meats), processed butter, white potatoes, and sugar. All in all, it is noted this may have to do with the antioxidants, phytochemicals, and monounsaturated fats that a whole food diet contributes.

So, who’s hungry? Keep it healthy, and let your skin reap the benefits.

 

written for Cliff Original by Frederick Entenmann, Best-Selling Author, Health & Wellness Consultant, Life Performance Coach for CEOs and Professional Athletes, Founder of Mind-Body-Life. Frederick is a former professional athlete who is a leader in the fields of corrective, high-performance exercise kinesiology, mind and body holistic health.