Skin Nutrition: Eating For Your Skin
Do you know what the largest organ in our body is? If you read the title of this blog post, you can probably guess – Our skin! That’s why it is so important to take care of our skin, and diet plays a significant role in doing so.
In fact, eating a balanced diet rich in whole foods may positively impact your skin more than any expensive skincare product. Hopefully after reading this post, you not only learn a thing or two but save a buck as well!
The Role of Vitamin C and Collagen
Vitamin C has potent antioxidant properties. Antioxidants protect our body from damage caused by free radicals, like UV rays. This is all a fancy way of saying that vitamin C helps to protect our skin from the sun, reducing the risk of skin cancer.*
*Skin cancer is common..While some forms are more harmless than others, some are not. Watch out for warning signs, also referred to as the ABCDEs of melanoma and if possible, make sure to schedule routine skin checks with a doctor.
Vitamin C also plays a vital role in creating collagen, otherwise known as collagen synthesis. Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies, and is responsible for maintaining the elasticity and “youthful glow” of our skin. As we age, collagen naturally begins to dwindle. This is why we see fine lines and wrinkles.
While collagen supplements are becoming more popular, there isn’t strong scientific evidence to suggest if or how well they work. Oftentimes, these products are expensive and not worth it. Plus, aging is beautiful! Adding vitamin C into your diet is an easier and more affordable way to protect our skin and reap other health-related benefits.
- Citrus fruits, like oranges and grapefruit are a classic addition to a balanced breakfast. Lemons and limes pack a punch and brighten up any boring beverage!
- Bell peppers are perfect for a snack plate paired with hummus or ranch. Red, yellow, orange, green – The more colors, the more micronutrients!
A Rainbow of Micronutrients
Incorporating an array of colorful micronutrients into our diets helps nourish our skin from the inside out. This is because each color offers unique nutritional benefits – Check out this Fare Meals blog post to learn more about the different colored pigments found in fruits and vegetables.
One pigment in particular, beta-carotene, supports skin health because it acts as a precursor to vitamin A (more on this later). Beta-carotene is responsible for the orange flesh of:
- Sweet potatoes and butternut squash. Roast in the oven and finish with a sprinkle of cinnamon for a sweet side dish any time of year!
- Cantelope is a great value option to get in your daily servings of fruit at a low price
- Oranges, tangerines, and clementines are the perfect convenient snack for peeling on-the-go
After eating these delicious orange foods, beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A by the liver. Like Vitamin C, Vitamin A also acts as an antioxidant to prevent damage from the sun. In addition, this micronutrient slows the breakdown of collagen, hydrating the skin and helping to prevent acne.
The Role of Vitamin D and Fats
Healthy fats, especially those containing omega-3 fatty acids, maintain the skin’s natural barrier and prevent the production of excess oil that leads to acne. A healthy skin barrier will reflect hydrated skin that looks plump rather than dry and irritated. Try adding some of these sources of fat rich in omega-3 fatty acids:
- Fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines are great sources of protein as well. This is a hunger-crushing combo!
- Chia seeds and flax seeds are easy to sprinkle over toast or add into smoothies. Another option is to make a chia or flax seed pudding.
It’s important to note that healthy fats can’t do their work alone. If you remember from this blog, vitamin D is one of four fat-soluble vitamins that allow our bodies to absorb this substantial macronutrient. Vitamin D is critical for other aspects of health as well: Bone health because it helps with the absorption of calcium and brain health because it boosts mood. Vitamin D is only found in small amounts in some foods, like dairy products and fortified beverages. Majority of vitamin D comes from the sun, so while exposure is necessary, make sure to implement safe practices like applying SPF, wearing sunglasses, and drinking enough water.
Facing the Facts
Overall, skin health is largely influenced by the foods we eat on a daily basis. This holds true for skin conditions like eczema and acne – Stay tuned for a part two blog post addressing how nutrition may be contributing to common skin problems. In the meantime, get your glow on!