When we think of skin health, people often think about preventing or minimizing visible aging such as wrinkles, sagging and brown spots. Advertisements insist that we can do this with expensive creams and extensive multistep morning and nightly regimens. Meredith Nathan, wellness consultant with Believe in Better Health, says skin health has a lot to do with diet and nutrition.
“Your body’s largest organ, the skin, acts as a protective, dynamic interface between you and the environment,” Nathan says. “Roughly 30,000 skin cells are born and another 30,000 die every single day.”
Skin is a detoxifier, an immunity booster (through Vitamin D production), a natural heating and air conditioning system (through goosebumps and sweat glands), an antibacterial layer, a protecting and insulating cushion for the body, a passageway to the bloodstream and a storehouse of nerve endings signaling pleasure or pain.
“Biologically, the skin is a powerhouse of intricate functions that create balance and health in your body. But emotionally, the skin can often be a source of frustration,” Nathan says. “A measure of age and beauty, it’s the world’s first glimpse into who we are. As we see other people, we’re instinctively attracted to radiant, glowing skin (perhaps because it signals health). And too often when we feel insecure with our own skin, we instinctively shy away from a potentially judging world. Our confidence, sense of beauty, and emotional well-being can rise and fall with the appearance of our skin.”
Nathan suggests five primary foods that are helpful for repairing skin from the inside out:
Green Tea Contains the antioxidant EGCG which fights free radicals, reduces inflammation from the inside out, and may help to prevent skin cancer. Green tea may also help with skin texture, elasticity, and firmness.
Almonds Packed with Vitamin E and selenium, both of which are important antioxidants for the skin, almonds help neutralize inflammation and damage as well as slow the formation of wrinkles.
Cherries Rich in an antioxidant that produces melatonin, which protects the skin from UV and also stimulates new cell growth for repair, cherries also provide the added benefit of vitamin C for collagen production.
Pomegranates Stimulate cellular regeneration and renewal at the skin’s deepest layers, protect and prevent collagen breakdown, protect DNA and promote healing.
Protein During digestion, protein breaks down into amino acids, which speed the regeneration and repair of collagen and skin cells (think eggs, beans, meat). Nathan further suggests five other foods that are good for skin health besides repair:
Salmon Rich in omega 3’s, salmon helps support your skin’s cell membranes which allow nutrients to enter and toxins to exit. Furthermore, the membrane is what allows the cell to hold water. More water in the skin cells equals more hydrated, supple, soft, and youthful-looking skin. These friendly fats also combat inflammation. They also can be found in sardines, mackerel and herring, as well as walnuts, flaxseed, and canola oil.
Avocados Rich in healthy fats and biotin, which helps prevent dry skin and brittle hair and nails.
Tomatoes High-carotenoid fruits may slow down cellular damage from free radicals. The phytonutrient lycopene also may help prevent sun damage.
Yogurt Rich in probiotics — the healthy bacteria — which are an essential part of a balanced micro biome. Healthy micro biome equals healthy you. Probiotics have a strong anti-inflammatory effect as they bolster the immune system, which can help with facial/body acne, eczema, rosacea, dryness, irritation, and a variety of skin concerns. Probiotics are naturally-occurring in fermented foods such as kimchi, kombucha, sauerkraut, kefir, yogurt and some cheeses. Or, to cover your bases, a simple probiotic supplement will do the trick.
FRUITS & VEGGIES A wide variety of fruits and vegetables that span a rainbow of color will up your antioxidant levels, which protect your skin against harmful free radicals — the rogue molecules trying to steal your electrons. To get the broadest range of antioxidant protection, think color. Every different color of fruit and veggie specializes in protecting you against a different type of free radical, so don’t eat the same thing repeatedly. Many fruits and veggies —especially dark, leafy greens — will provide your skin with flavonoids (phytochemicals) and other vital skin nutrients.
“Beautiful skin should be the result of a healthy diet AND a good skincare regimen,” Nathan says. “Using only one of these approaches is better than none, but truly radiant, gorgeous, glowing skin requires attention from the inside-out just as much as from the outside-in. Truly beautiful skin is more than skin deep.”