By Debra Soufleris, B.S., DTR
The skincare industry is big business. People are spending megabucks on creams and cleansers in hopes of having beautiful, glowing, radiant skin. While some of these products can be very helpful, many of us discount the fact that what we eat, and environmental factors, play a major part in influencing the appearance and integrity of our biggest organ—our skin.
As with all of our organs, nutrition can either provide protective properties or be damaging to them. Thankfully, many of the same foods that fit into a well-balanced diet also provide protective agents to help strengthen our skin and protect it from environmental factors and aging. For healthier, beautiful-looking skin, try adding these foods to your diet on the regular, and watch your skin transform from the inside out.
One of the most beneficial things you can do for your skin is to keep it well-hydrated from the inside out. Drinking lots of water or unsweetened tea will help make it more supple and smooth, to reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles. Tea can be equally as hydrating as water, and provide additional antioxidants, which have been shown to help reduce redness, protect from sun damage, and decrease inflammation.
Since collagen provides the main structure of the skin tissue, consuming it through foods or powders will help provide a good foundation for younger, smoother-looking skin. Collagen is found mainly in animal connective tissue, and is made up of several amino acids that help keep our skin firm and supple—all while renewing skin cells.
Bone broth provides an excellent source of collagen, along with many other foods that assist in helping increase the production of collagen such as cabbage, whole soy products, fruits and vegetables, beans and turkey. Additionally, collagen powders can be a convenient way to add this important nutrient to your diet to help achieve strong, radiant, youthful skin.
Another food that helps support collagen production, eggs also provide choline and lutein that are vital for skin health. Choline plays an important role in regulating B vitamins which are needed to help produce the proteins that keep our skin smooth and firm. Lutein is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect the skin from environmental damage and maintains its elasticity.
Not only is fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines delicious (for me, at least!), but they also all contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which are key in keeping skin firm, strong, and moisturized. Being deficient in omega-3 fats can actually cause dry, flaky skin and lips. Not exactly the youthful look we are trying to achieve.
Omega-3 fatty acids are known to reduce inflammation, which can cause redness and acne. They also help protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Fatty fish is also a good source of vitamin E, which is an important antioxidant for your skin. Other good sources of vitamin E include sunflower seeds and avocados.
Fruits and vegetables contain high amounts of vitamin C and vitamin A. Both are well known for their role in maintaining the cell membrane of the skin tissue, and provide protective properties from environmental factors like sun damage and pollutants.
Both vitamins also help in the production of collagen, making these two nutrients vital for healthy skin. One of the best sources of both vitamins is red or yellow peppers. Just one cup provides 92% of the RDA for Vitamin A and 317% of your daily amount of Vitamin C. You can add them to stir-fries, salads, omelets, or just eat them raw with hummus for a healthy mid-day snack.
By adding these powerful nutrients to your daily diet, not only will you be providing your body with an abundance of nutrients, but you will also help protect your skin from harmful environmental factors and help maintain a smooth, youthful appearance.