Can You Eat Your Way to Beautiful Skin?
When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use. When diet is correct, medicine is of no need.
- Ayurvedic proverb
For those of us who have found the price of indulging on chocolate one day to be many subsequent days of battling acne breakouts, it comes as no surprise that what you eat has an impact on your skin just like other parts of your health and wellness.
Let’s not forget that your skin is not only the largest organ in your body, it’s a reflection of your overall health. Just as your heart and liver suffer under a poor diet, so does your skin and it’s out there for the entire world to see.
On the flipside, a healthy diet can help produce beautiful, healthy glowing skin. A healthy diet also helps protect your skin from harsh environmental conditions and other triggers of accelerated aging.
Came from a plant, eat it; was made in a plant, don’t
- Michael Pollan
Avoid Refined Carbs and Processed Foods
Back to the case of chocolate and acne: It is unlikely that cocoa … the actual chocolate … is the culprit. In fact, we now understand that the cocoa contains flavinoids that are beneficial to skin. It is the sugar that is of concern when it comes to skin and breakouts.
In addition to acne, consuming refined carbs and sugar – such as those found in sweets, white bread, breakfast cereals, and sugary drinks – can also speed up the aging process as the result of a process called glycation. Over time, glycation leads to loss of elasticity and the formation of wrinkles, saggy skin, and crow’s feet.
Now that we’ve covered the bad, let’s get into the good.
To keep the body in good health is a duty, otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.
Get Your Omega 3s
Besides lowering your triglycerides and inflammation, omega-3 fatty acids also help preserve your collagen, which will keep your skin firmer. Omega 3s are free fatty acids that also act as the building blocks for healthy skin cells, which means less dry skin and less sun sensitivity.
You will want to consume the three main omega-3 fatty acids: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Keep in mind that a diet rich in EPA and DHA contain more benefits than a diet rich in ALA alone. EPA is crucial for lowering inflammation and may even reduce depression. DHA is vital for brain development and function.
ALA comes from plant oils, such as:
- Chia seeds
- Dark green leafy vegetables
Your body can convert some ALA into EPA and then into DHA but not enough to make a significant difference.
The best source of EPA and DHA is fatty fish, such as:
- Lake trout
- Fresh tuna
Can’t stomach fish? Thankfully, there are plenty of quality fish oil supplements on the market.
Fight off Free Radicals
Free radicals are unstable atoms that are short of an electron - that can wreak havoc among your skin cells. These free radicals will try to bond with other atoms and molecules to replace those missing electrons. This process is called oxidative stress.
Although aspects of oxidative stress are part of everyday living, excessive free radical activity will cause your skin to age prematurely. Free radicals come from countless sources, but some of the more common culprits are air pollution, smoking, pesticides, poor nutrition, and the ultraviolet rays of the sun.
Antioxidants to the Rescue
Antioxidants can stop or delay damage to your cells by sacrificing their own electrons to neutralize free radicals. An example of antioxidants at work would be when you squeeze lemon or lime juice on an avocado to prevent it from turning brown because of oxidation (citric acid is a strong antioxidant). Ingesting foods or vitamins with antioxidants, or applying them externally, can neutralize the effects of free radicals.
Fruits, vegetables, dark chocolate, and moderate amounts of red wine are all great sources of antioxidants. Some antioxidant shoutouts:
Rich in lycopene, a strong antioxidant that protects the skin from UV damage.
Powerful antioxidants found in these delicious options:
- Green tea - also rich in vitamin K and great for healing blemishes and flushing out toxins.
- Dark chocolate - contains flavanols, a potent antioxidant great for producing smooth skin and protecting against the harmful effects of the sun, look for chocolate with 70% cacao or more.
- Red wine - a source for resveratrol, which protects against skin damage but drink in moderation. But proceed cautiously, as too much alcohol can cause more harm than good to the skin.
- Solvasa's Golden Moments - a warm blend of aromatic spices that help you build resilience to stress with adaptogenic turmeric, ashwagandha, and curcumin in a delicious adaptation of a traditional eastern elixir. Curcumin, a well-known antioxidant, is the most active ingredient in turmeric. Bioperine®, a black pepper extract, enhances the bioavailability of the curcumin and allows for increased uptake.
Don’t Forget About Your Vitamins
Better-looking skin is just another reason why mom was right about eating your fruits and vegetables, which are great sources for antioxidant vitamins.
Vitamin C – Great for reducing wrinkles and age-related dry skin. Examples:
- Citrus - oranges, grapefruit, lemons, limes
- Bell peppers - any color will do – helps with decreasing sun sensitivity and crow’s feet
- Broccoli - steam or roast this vegetable powerhouse that also supports collagen production
- Strawberries - eat them fresh or put some in a smoothie
Vitamin E – Helps with age-related skin damage and may even boost your skin’s defense against skin cancer. Examples:
- Sunflower seeds
- Collard greens
Vitamin A – Its precursor, beta carotene, promotes healthy skin cell turnover, and there is evidence it can improve psoriasis. Examples:
- Sweet potatoes
One of the best, and easiest, ways to care for your skin is to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Fine lines and wrinkles will be less noticeable, and water helps flush out toxins.
Eating whole, natural foods – like those recommended above – not only provide healthy glowing skin but creates a solid foundation for your overall health and wellness.