One of my friends (a friend with a very pretty face, I might add) asked me to write about nutrition for the skin. I know I touch on this every once in a while, but a refresher never hurts!
There are many aspects of our lifestyle that affect our complexion: diet & supplements, stress, and smoking, to name a few. Since the skin is the largest organ of our body, it is very important to protect it and nourish it each day. It functions as a protective covering, a sense organ, an oil producer, and a detoxifier. The skin is constantly using evaporation and perspiration to maintain internal balance by clearing toxins. In school, we often discuss the skin and the fact that it is an outward reflection of someone’s internal health and balance.
Of course the most important nutrient for healthy skin is water. We are unable to detoxify if we do not have enough water. It keeps our skin clean and pure by transporting nutrients throughout the body and flushing out toxins. Some other good ways to clear and detoxify the skin include using natural beauty products, especially those that contain things like aloe vera, herbs or honey. Egg white facials, dry-brush massage, saunas, and steam rooms are also good ways to open the pores and help eliminate toxins.
A diet that supports a healthy complexion includes nutrient-dense and high-water-content foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables. In addition, essential fatty acids are necessary for healthy skin. These can be found in foods such as nuts, seeds, olive oil, coconut oil, and flaxseed oil. Fresh fish also contains many healthy oils for the skin.
Some supplements that can benefit the skin include a fish oil supplement, a multivitamin and mineral supplement, and antioxidants. Vitamin A and beta-carotene are important for treating acne, preventing blemishes, and treating dry skin. Someone with a vitamin A deficiency may get sick easily, have tiny red bumps on the backs of their arms, night blindness, and slowly healing wounds or infections.
Vitamin C helps supply antioxidants to the skin, which can slow aging and reduce some of the effects of smoke and chemicals on the skin. Zinc is another important skin supplement. Zinc is necessary for cell repair, DNA and enzyme production, and to keep immunity strong and healthy. Silica, which is highly concentrated in the skins of most fruits and vegetables, helps to strengthen the skin, hair and nails. So, keep that skin on your kids’ fruits and vegetables – they need it!
All of the B-vitamins are essential for healthy skin, and B-vitamin deficiencies are associated with some types of skin disorders. They are needed for cell division, to support tissue health and repair, and to reduce inflammation. Good sources of B-vitamins include wheat germ, beans, peas, nuts, leafy greens, liver, and lean meats.
As you can see, there are many components to obtaining a healthy, glowing complexion. It all comes back to eating as close to a whole-foods diet as possible. Everything you put into your body must come out, and our skin is one means of elimination. Excess sugar, alcohol, sodium, additives or preservatives can cause an unhealthy internal environment and therefore unwelcomed skin problems such as dryness, oily skin, acne, blemishes, rashes, and other skin conditions. Sugar is a great way to really hurt your skin. Not only does it cause skin conditions, but it also depletes our body of many important nutrients, leading to further skin issues.
Have a great weekend!