Amidst busy lifestyles and also being constantly bombarded by media advertising for a ton of skin care products which we often do not need, people sometimes forget that the best way to having a beautiful complexion starts with eating good foods for healthy skin.
Although research on the best foods for healthy skin is limited, it is important to understand that what we eat does matter, as we are what we eat.
We need to nourish our skin to keep it as healthy as possible. Not only is a healthy balanced diet good for our overall health, it will help us to achieve beautiful skin from within.
Nutrients for Healthy Skin
Recent research has shown that the skin requires certain vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that nourish the skin, making it appear youthful and healthy. Silica, Zinc, Selenium, Omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamins A, C and E are among the essential nutrients to consume for healthy, young-looking skin.
Fish Oil is rich is long-chain omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA and should be part of a balanced diet. These omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential fatty acids for optimum health. Omega-3 may contribute to healthy skin, a healthy heart, brain function and is thought to aid in the treatment of a range of conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, heart disease, asthma, eczema, psoriasis, inflammation and rheumatoid arthritis. Fish oil can be consumed by eating fish such as tuna, salmon, sardines, mackerel and trout, as these are considered “oily fish” and have higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids than other species.
Antioxidants such as beta-carotene and vitamins C, E, and A seem to have a protective effect for the skin as they can prevent the damage caused by unstable molecules known as free radicals. Such free radical molecules are harmful to skin cells and cause signs of aging. One of the best ways to get more antioxidants is to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Eating plenty of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables is not only good for our skin but for our whole body as well.
To ensure that we are taking in all the necessary nutrients, it is recommended that we should have as much variety and colour as possible in our diet.
Some Skin-friendly Foods Include:
- Apricots, carrots and other yellow and orange fruits and vegetables
- Spinach and other green leafy vegetables
- Beans, peas and lentils
- Fish, especially salmon
In general, foods that are rich in vitamins A, C and E and rich in antioxidants are good for the skin. Eating fresh whole foods as opposed to processed foods is recommended as they are more nutritious and a healthier option.
Foods to Avoid
Besides eating healthy, avoiding some foods which seem to be associated with skin damage would also be recommended. For example, some research suggests that a diet high in processed or refined sugars or other carbohydrates and unhealthy fats promotes skin aging.
Eating oily fatty foods are especially bad for oily skin types, making them more prone to pimples and acne. Fried food, junk food and spicy food are best to be avoided.
When eating dairy products, choose the low-fat or fat-free options. Beans, nuts and seeds can substitute as healthier sources of fat and protein than eating meat. To reduce intake of refined carbohydrates and sugars, opt for whole-grain breads and pasta and limit sweets and desserts.
Simple ways to get the vitamins and other nutrients for your skin
Try snacking on blueberries, strawberries, grapefruit, kale, spinach, and different kinds of peppers.
Add a little tomato paste, which contains an antioxidant called lycopene, to stir-fried vegetables, brown rice, or quinoa.
Include foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, including wild salmon, sardines, fortified eggs, and walnuts in your salads.
As our body cannot manufacture omega-3 fatty acids, we either need to get them from food or through supplements. If you don’t like fish, or find it hard to consume as often as recommended (NHMRC recommends two 150g serves of oily fish a week as part of a balanced diet), then supplements are also a great way to get omega-3 fatty acids into your diet. Supplements also help those who are concerned about the levels of mercury found in some larger fish species. Quality fish oil supplements won’t leave your breath smelling fishy or carry an after-taste.
Supplements – Do You Need Them?
Ideally, the best way to get the nutrients you need is to have a healthy, balanced diet. However, if you are not eating a balanced diet, taking an over-the-counter multivitamin with minerals supplement daily will help to boost your nutrient intake.
In particular, if you are someone who spends a lot of time outdoors or are exposed to high levels of air pollution and second-hand smoke, you will benefit from taking a supplement and using topical applications rich in antioxidants e.g. creams and serums that contain vitamins A, C and E.
Popping pills is not something that I enjoy doing. Give me a bowl of fruits and nuts and I would gladly eat them up whilst getting the rich nutrients that they provide.
There may be times when your body needs additional supplements to correct deficiency levels and to treat certain medical conditions. Lack of certain vitamins can cause skin conditions such as eczema, or dry scaly skin. Under such circumstances, taking a nutritional supplement will help improve the condition of the skin.
Beauty From Within
There is truth after all that beauty starts from within. Eating the right foods nourishes our skin and body and keeps you healthy inside and out.
Eating healthily doesn’t have to be boring and restrictive. Start with knowing what nutrients your skin needs and making the right choice of ingredients for your food preparation. Focusing on a healthy diet in general, which includes plenty of fruits and vegetables will result in healthy skin.
Are you getting enough of the right nutrients from the foods you eat or do you need any supplements?
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