y god, those girls on the billboards. Miss Dior, No 5, and Chloé, the list goes on. Most likely, you now have a clear mental picture of the radiant young women in one of these brand marketing campaigns. Don't beat yourself up for not leaving the house with the perfect make-up, not to mention the often photoshopped glowing skin. While the main model’s job is to look gorgeous, your job is to shine being a mom working part-time or kicking some corporate asses each day. Here is our healthy skin food strategy for you to glow despite little time and lots of stress.
There are a lot of different ways to make your skin look perfectly radiant, clean and smooth. Turns out, the secret to anti-ageing of our biggest organ isn’t in fancy lotions and potions. The real secret to glowing & healthy skin is at the farmer’s market and on your plate. Nutrient-dense foods give your skin plenty of micronutrients to help turn back the clock. How food affects our bodies is very individual, but there are some key nutrients that you don’t want to miss.
Nutrition’s influence on skin condition has been studied with varying results. For instance, this study on skin ageing in Japanese women found that higher intake of total fat was significantly associated with increased skin elasticity and that a higher intake of saturated fat and green and yellow vegetables was associated with less severe crow’s feet wrinkling (around eyes). This study on skin wrinkling in the elderly living in sun-exposed locations showed a high intake of vegetables, legumes and olive oil to be protective, whereas a high intake of meat, dairy and butter seemed to have adverse effects. A study on skin-ageing appearance among middle-aged women found higher intakes of linoleic acid and vitamin C and lower intakes of fats and carbohydrates to be associated with better skin appearance. And finally, for those struggling with acne, a low glycemic load diet seems to improve acne with decreased inflammation and reduced size of sebaceous glands.
Most of the information you’ll find on nutrition and skin health focuses on deficiencies, and that's because the proper structures and functions of the skin are supported by key proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals. This should be important to note for chronic dieters, hard charging people who aren't consuming adequate calories or nutrients, and anyone eating a diet lacking in calories variety, color or nutrient density. There could be a pretty significant ageing trade-off for you!
Glucose (sugar) is actually a primary fuel source for skin cells. Glucose is also necessary for the extracellular environment of the epidermis (outermost skin layer) where it provides the carbohydrate backbones for proteins and lipids that make up the epidermal barrier. Defects in the regulation of glucose metabolism and insulin signaling (as is seen in diabetes) drastically affect skin structure and may cause blisters, sores, and impaired wound healing. In other words, glucose shouldn't be too high, but you also should not be in a state of constant glycogen and carbohydrate depletion.
Amino acids from proteins and supplements are essential for the production of all skin structures and the epidermal barrier. Individual amino acids and amino acid mixtures have different functions in collagen production and specific supplementation may increase collagen production (which naturally decreases as you age) to help you combat wrinkling and sagging skin. Especially on days where you don't get adequate protein from dietary sources or you’re beating yourself up significantly with exercise, you can cover most of your more critical bases by taking essential amino acid supplements.
Lipids (fatty acids) are required for the development of the outermost layer of the skin, for skin cell differentiation, skin cell membranes and for absorbing lipid-soluble nutrients. Essential fatty acid (linoleic acid and α-linolenic acid) deficiency results in scaly skin and increased transepidermal water loss. Therefore, omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids are critical to the normal function and appearance of skin and keep your skin hydrated, plumper, and younger looking. You can load up with algae oil just about everyday, especially if you’re not mowing down a portion of sardines, trout or wild salmon.
These two ressources will give a practical how to guide for a healthy skin diet:
So, what skin do you wish to see in the mirror and how can you nurture it?
In order to achieve a clear complexion, biotin and zinc are essential. Zinc has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects, which also supports wound healing. In addition, zinc ensures a good supply of vitamins to the skin. Zinc for example can be found in walnuts. Walnuts also protect the function of the cell layer on the inner surface of the blood and lymph vessels.
Vitamin E, which, for example, can be found in sunflower oil, is also important. It prevents skin diseases, improves the skin moisture and the skin texture, since vitamin E has a firming effect on the connective tissue. Sunflower oil also contains linoleic acid, which counteracts rough and reddened areas. Spinach can also alleviate minor inflammation, protects the skin and ensures a fresh complexion. But be aware of the high Omega 6 content of sunflower oil.
White flour products cause blood glucose levels to rise and fall quickly, which leads to high sebum production. This can be the cause of acne and skin inflammation. With whole grain products, on the other hand, blood glucose levels rise more slowly and remain more constant. Pantothenic acid also reduces sebum production and ensures smooth skin. Pantothenic acid can be found in yeast and tuna, for example.
Fluid is also very important for the skin. Water for example, supports the vitality of the skin because it is better supplied with blood and oxygen. Thus, water also supports the protective function of the skin. Horseradish is also beneficial for the protective function. Horseradish acts like a natural antibiotic. It contains mustard oil, which promotes blood circulation in the skin and has a disinfectant effect from the inside. It can also counteract oxidative stress and prevents cell damage.
To counteract premature skin aging, antioxidants help in particular. These counteract free radicals in the body. Free radicals consist of an unpaired electron that wants to bind. Because they are unpaired, they can steal an electron from other chemical compounds, this process is called oxidation. This can damage essential components of a cell, which in turn can limit cell functions or damage the DNA. Antioxidants prevent the oxidation of free radicals and can neutralise them. However, a certain proportion of free radicals is necessary to support our immune system by destroying pathogens. The family of antioxidants include vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Antioxidants are mainly found in fresh fruits and vegetables.
A well-known antioxidant is vitamin C. It supports the healing of wounds on the skin, improves the elasticity of the skin, can prevent wrinkles, counteracts age-related dryness of the skin and stimulates the collagen production. Collagens are responsible for the skin firmness and are the most important component of the skin. The skin structure is protected by collagen production and immunity against harmful substances is built up.
Berries, for example, are particularly rich in vitamin C. Elderberries and açai berries contain a high concentration of antioxidants. They improve the elasticity of the skin, help to detoxify, the natural metabolism is stimulated and therefore the skin cells are renewed faster. But the real super berries are the goji berries. In addition to vitamin C, these also contain vitamin A, E and B, iron, important amino acids, protein and minerals. Not only does the skin become more radiant and firmer with these berries, but also the general well-being improves, and the feeling of stress diminishes. Already a small number of berries cover the daily requirement of vitamin C. Another food that can work wonders are sweet potatoes. They contain a lot of vitamin C, which makes the skin appear young and healthy. They also contain vitamin A, which stimulates the regeneration of skin cells and prevents wrinkles. There are studies that show that half a sweet potato a day can reduce wrinkling by 11% in the long term.
Tomatoes also contain antioxidants. Tomatoes, which contain high proportions of water, can improve the blood circulation, which in turn ensures firmer skin. Lutein, which can be found in broccoli for example, also protects the skin against wrinkling. Broccoli also supports the collagen production and even has a preventive effect against skin cancer.
Flaxseeds can perform small miracles. They contain important proteins, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. In addition to their effect against skin irritation and reddening of the skin, they can also fill in wrinkles and make existing fine lines disappear. Meat, fish and gelatine, which support collagen production, are also good for skin tightening. Tuna for example contains selenium, which tightens and softens the skin.
Avocados have various effects on the skin. They contain a high proportion of healthy fats, which ensure smooth, elastic and beautiful skin. The contained vitamin A also works against skin impurities. The vitamin E in avocados has an antioxidant effect and thus supports the body in the fight against free radicals. In addition, vitamin E has a positive effect on collagen production. The carotenoids which also can be found in the avocado, stimulate the cell metabolism and protect the upper layers of the skin from UV radiation. Dark chocolate also has multiple effects. On the one hand, it reduces reddening and makes the skin less sensitive. On the other hand, it can improve the skin structure and thus has a positive effect on the complexion. Dark chocolate is also helpful to protect the skin against UV radiation. The polyphenols contained in dark chocolate are deposited in the skin and intercept harmful free radicals that are created by UV radiation. Green tea also works as a radical catcher. Drinking green tea makes the skin more resilient.
The foods that protect the skin from UV radiation are also important for a firm skin. Here is our tip, depending on skin type, go into full sun for 10 to 30 minutes. Then go into the shadow until the sun sets arround 6 pm in the summer. This strategy is giving you all the positve, vitamin D3 and nice tan, without the negative, rapid skin ageing. The worst strategy is what most people do unfortunately. They put on sun screen and go into full sun all day. This blocks vitamin D3 and gives you rapid skin ageing.
Food as a «beauty maker» does not work overnight but has a preventive and lasting effect. The foods mentioned, not only help to prevent wrinkles, they also promote health. That means that it is never too late to start with the right diet.