Eat your way to beautiful skin
By Jeri Ross, MPH Health Educator
The skin is one of the most powerful indicators of health. Wrinkles, dry or oily skin, acne, and inflammation all are signs of poor internal health, often brought on by consuming unhealthful foods and avoiding skin-healthy nutrients.
“Your skin is the fingerprint of what is going on inside your body, and all skin conditions, from psoriasis to acne to aging, are the manifestations of your body’s internal needs, including its nutritional needs,” says Dr. Georgiana Donadio, founder of the National Institute of Whole Health.
ScienceDaily (Nov. 15, 2007) — The old adage “you are what you eat” not only applies to our overall health and nutrition, but how our skin looks and feels as well. As the largest organ in the body, our skin can benefit from the same nutrition we get from foods that have a positive effect on our heart and other major organs.
If you want healthy skin, you’ve got to eat a healthy diet. That’s all there is to it. There’s a reason why people who follow a strict diet for optimal health and fitness usually end up having the best-looking skin around. Is that what you want? Say ‘Yes!”
Here are 6 healthy skin foods that you want to eat (or drink) often.
Salmon: Dry, inflamed skin or skin that suffers from the frequent appearance of whiteheads or blackheads can benefit from supplementing with essential fatty acids EFAs), especially omega- 3s.FAs are responsible for skin repair, moisture content, and overall flexibility, but because the body cannot produce its own EFAs, they must be obtained through the diet. Omega-3s are found in cold-water fish such as salmon EFAs are also available in supplement form – such as fish oil capsules or evening primrose oil. In a study of skin cancer, people who ate diets rich in fish oils and other omega 3 fats had a 29% lower risk of squamous cell cancer than those who got very little omega 3 fats from food.
Raw Almonds: Vitamin E, considered a powerful antioxidant with skin cancer-fighting qualities, is plentiful in almonds. Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant that helps to protect skin cells from UV light and other environmental factors that generate cell-damaging free radicals. Try some almond butter on a fresh cut apple. Yum!
Spinach: Researchers have identified at least 13 different flavonoid compounds in spinach that function as antioxidants and as anti-cancer agents. Spinach is an excellent source of Vitamin C and Vitamin A. Vitamin C helps maintain collagen, the underlying supporting structure of skin. Vitamin A acts as an antioxidant to neutralize harmful elements in our skin, helping to prevent wrinkles, resist infection and keep our skin youthful. Spinach is also a good source of vitamins B, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids. Trade your lettuce for spinach.
Green Tea: This beverage deserves a category all its own in any article about foods for healthy skin. Skin-health polyphenols in green tea have anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce the risk of damage from ultraviolet light (such as the burning rays of the sun) that causes skin cancer. A 2007 study in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry found that drinking two to six cups a day not only helps prevent skin cancer but may reverse the effects of sun damage by neutralizing the changes that appear in sun-exposed skin. Try squeezing some fresh lemon in your green tea for an extra shot of Vitamin C.
Water: No one disputes the role good hydration plays in keeping skin looking healthy and even young. When that hydration comes from pure, clean water — not liquids such as soda or even soup — experts say skin cells rejoice. In addition to keeping cells hydrated, water helps cells move nutrients in and toxins out, which automatically leaves skin looking better. When we’re properly hydrated, we also sweat more efficiently. Doing so helps keep skin clean and clear as well. Most authorities recommend at least 8 glasses or 2 liters of pure water daily.
Warning: Choose your water bottles very carefully in order to prevent chemicals in the plastic from leaching into your water. Those fabulous colorful hard plastic lexan bottles made with polycarbonate plastics and identified by the #7 recycling symbol, may leach BPA. Bisphenol A is a xenoestrogen, a known endocrine disruptor, meaning it disturbs the hormonal messaging in our bodies. Synthetic xenoestrogens are linked to breast cancer and uterine cancer in women, decreased testosterone levels in men, and are particularly devastating to babies and young children. BPA has even been linked to insulin resistance and Type 2 Diabetes. Use stainless steel or aluminum water bottles. It’s better for the earth too.
Whole-wheat breads: The mineral selenium found in whole wheat grains and wheat germ promotes healthy skin. Selenium helps safeguard the skin from sun damage and delays aging by protecting skin quality and elasticity. Dietary selenium has been shown to prevent some skin cancers in animals. According to nutrition expert Liz Lipski, PhD- filling up on whole-grain products leaves less room for the “white” foods that are a worse choice for skin health. These include white-flour items (bread, cake and pasta), sugar, and white rice. All can affect insulin levels and cause inflammation that may ultimately be linked to skin break outs.