NUTRITION FOR BEAUTIFUL SKIN
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BEAUTY FROM THE INSIDE OUT:
A crucial element in beautiful skin, sometimes overlooked, is the role nutrition plays in how we look. Nourishing the body from the inside out with abundant pure water, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and amino acids from the foods we consume can make all the difference between lifeless, dull skin and bright, vibrant, glowing skin. While all nutrients work together for optimal health, some are standouts when considering the skin’s radiance. According to one research study in the journal DermatoEndocrinology the link between nutrition and aging is clear. (*all references at the end of the article)
Vitamin A: Vitamin A is well-known for its function in wound healing as well as general skin health. There are two types of Vitamin A, retinoid and carotenoid, and both help improve skin health by converting to retinol in the liver where it is either stored or sent to the skin to stimulate the new production of cells. Retinoids are found in salmon, eggs, fish and shrimp; and carotenoids are found in carrots, sweet potatoes, leafy greens and mangoes. Vitamin A, along with Vitamin C and Vitamin E, provide a powerhouse of antioxidant activity.
Vitamin C: Besides helping in collagen production, this powerful antioxidant is found in high levels in both the inner and outer skin layers. It’s helpful in healing skin conditions and enhancing the effects of sunscreen. Red bell peppers contain significantly more vitamin C than oranges although don’t overlook the power of this citrus. Other high vitamin C foods include blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, cantaloupe, pineapple, kiwi, kale, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.
Vitamin E: This vitamin’s main role in skin health is to protect against sun damage by absorbing harmful UV rays. Some people have found great benefit in consuming more foods containing Vitamin E for their dry and inflamed skin. Vitamin E is found in nuts and seeds.
Vitamin D: Optimal levels have been shown to benefit aging skin. Unfortunately, many people are deficient in this ultra important vitamin. It’s also very important in preventing skin cancer from sun exposure. Food containing vitamin D includes salmon, mackerel, beef liver and egg yolks.
Magnesium: Besides its claim to fame as a muscle relaxant and stress reliever, it’s also essential for retaining skin elasticity. It’s found in nuts, buckwheat, kidney and lima beans, leafy greens, lentils and brown rice. Raw cacao powder also has plenty of magnesium!
Calcium: This mineral also plays a key role in giving your skin firmness whereas a deficiency can lead to thinning of the skin. Calcium is found in sesame seeds, kelp, collards, kale, parsley, chick peas, nuts, sardines and leafy greens.
Copper: Copper is an amazing mineral that helps the body produce its own collagen and elastin. Along with selenium and other antioxidants, it helps prevent oxidative damage to the skin. You can find copper in sunflower and sesame seeds, many nuts, coconut, mushrooms and beans. Copper needs to be balanced with adequate zinc but if you are eating a balanced diet then this shouldn’t be a problem.
Zinc: This mineral is one of the most important for skin health since it protects against premature aging. Too much liquor robs the body of precious zinc stores. It can be found in many nuts, seeds, legumes and sea veggies. Soak nuts and seeds in water overnight before consuming to release the phytic acid that prevents absorption of this and many other minerals.
Sulfur: Sulfur is also known as “nature’s beauty mineral” and for good reason. Besides having anti-inflammatory properties, it also aids in the production of collagen thus making skin structurally stronger. It also aids in detoxification. Radishes are wonderful to add to your nutritional beauty routine since they contain lots of water as well as the sulfur containing amino acids cysteine and methionine. Other foods to include are grass-fed meat, organic chicken, wild-caught fish and seafood, garlic and eggs. Garlic is an especially powerful sulfur-containing food. As an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, it shines when it comes to skin health. One study showed its positive effect in preventing UV-induced aging of the skin.
Selenium: Selenium is another important mineral and antioxidant for the skin’s health and elasticity. Some research also suggests its protection against the sun’s harmful UV rays. Brazil nuts are an outstanding source of selenium but eat only a few a day since you can easily reach the recommended daily allowance. Other sources are fish and chicken.
Silica: This trace mineral is important in helping to strengthen the skin’s elasticity. Premature aging can occur when we don’t consume adequate levels. Silica helps with the formation of glycosaminoglycans (GAGs). One well-known GAG exceptional in increasing skin hydration is Hyaluronic Acid. You can reach optimal levels of silica by consuming celery, cucumbers, mangoes, leafy veggies, nuts & seeds, rhubarb and strawberries. Potatoes and beets, especially with the skin on, contain high levels of silica. Silica from green beans happens to be a very absorbable source of silica according to one study.
You may be well aware that Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body and our skin’s health is vitally dependent on adequate levels. As we age, collagen levels decline leading to wrinkles. The three main amino acids that make up collagen are Glycine, Proline and Hydroxyproline. One specific study of 114 women found that eating 2.5 grams of collagen for 8 weeks helped in eye wrinkle reduction and improved skin collagen levels. Glycine is exceptionally important in collagen. Glycine, along with Proline, Hydroxyproline and other amino acids are most notably found in bone broth. Other sources of beneficial amino acids are in egg whites, fish and shellfish. You can also buy collagen powder to use in your morning smoothie. However, it often does not contain the full amino acid spectrum so don’t rely on collagen as your only protein source for this very important meal of the day.
Good fats are those that have no harmful trans-fats nor too high a proportion of omega 6 to omega 3. Canola and many other “vegetable oils” are in this category. It’s highly likely that the fat used to fry restaurant food is not a healthy fat nor changed with each new order. Best to always avoid! Use Extra Virgin Olive oil for vinaigrettes; Coconut Oil or Grass-Fed Butter for Medium heat cooking; for high heat cooking stick with Avocado Oil and Ghee. Some nutritionist and cooks find it is okay to use EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) at Medium heat too. There’s plenty of trustworthy information online regarding the safe use of oils (https://www.joshgitalis.com/dangerous-side-vegetable-oils/).
Omega 3 fatty acids that are plentiful in wild-caught salmon and sardines are excellent for the cardiovascular system, brain health as well as increasing longevity according to the scientific journal, Aging. A vegan source is flax seed oil but make sure it’s properly stored to avoid oxidation. One article in Science Daily says it all: “Omega-3 supplements may slow a biological effect of aging.” Avocados which contain heart-healthy monounsaturated fats are an essential ingredient in your beauty by nutrition regime. They also contain skin-loving Vitamins A, C, E. Enjoy plenty of guacamole!
ECGC: Epigallocatechin Gallate is a component of green tea. Studies have shown that green tea is effective in protecting against wrinkles caused by the sun.
Curcumin: With its powerful anti-aging properties due to its role as an anti-oxidant, curcumin, one of the active components of turmeric, is not only helpful for sloughing off dead skin cells, but also beneficial for age-related diseases. Curry contains turmeric and many other spices beneficial for the body.
Pure Water: Water can be a miracle cure for almost any issue in the body. We need pure water to make every system function optimally. It’s most important role in skin health is that it helps remove the toxins and debris that can influence our skin’s appearance. Drinking pure water is awesome but don’t forget that vegetables and fruits contain water so make sure you’re consuming plenty to add to your hydration.
Besides beauty treatments and an effective daily skin care regimen, there are a number of lifestyle choices that affect the health of your skin. The obvious ones are to avoid smoking, excessive drinking and too much sun, however, some lesser known culprits to premature aging can be processed food, sugary fruit drinks, high-carb foods or problematic foods. Many people have difficulty digesting or are sensitive to gluten and dairy and the cascade of reactions occurring in the body show up negatively on the skin. In fact, any food to which you may have a sensitivity or allergy should also be ruled out.
Stress and Sleep:
Too much stress and too little sleep can both cause deepening of wrinkles. Aim to reduce stress and sleep for 7 or more hours per night. As some of us know, however, sleep can sometimes be elusive. Research shows that too much blue light from computers and devices (including TVs) especially in the evening when our body needs amber waves or darkness to produce melatonin, can alter our circadian rhythms keeping us awake.
To sum up: Include more pure water, organic green leafy vegetables and fruits (especially berries), more good sources of fat from wild caught fish, grass-fed and finished beef, cage free eggs, pasture-raised poultry, herbs and spices (like turmeric), healthy fats like avocados, avocado oil, coconut oil, EVOO, flax seed oil, and bone broth. Adding good nutrition to your beauty arsenal not only benefits your skin but also every cell in your body so you can age gracefully not prematurely.
BEAUTY FROM THE INSIDE OUT: