Our skin puts quite a nutritional demand on our bodies. The older cells on the skin surface are continually being shed, and replaced by younger “hungry” cells. It is vital that you supply your skin cells with the right micronutrients so they can keep up with the work that is asked of them. One of the most important functions of our skin is to protect us from the environment. Numerous exposures can damage our skin, producing unstable and damaging molecules called “free radicals”. These free radicals can damage the skin and accelerate skin aging, damage cellular structures, and even increase risk of skin cancer. These free radicals are produced by normal cellular processes, but are dramatically increased by certain exposures such as UV light, pollution, radiation, smoking, and herbicides. Supplementing your diet with foods rich in natural antioxidants can help your skin stay healthy and youthful in appearance.
Olive oil – high in monounsaturated fat. A study conducted in France in 2012 on 1,264 women aged 45-60 years old, demonstrated 31% fewer signs of skin aging was found in individuals who had diets higher in monounsaturated fatty acids from olive oil and other vegetable oils.
- Walnuts – contain Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acid is an “essential” fatty acid, which means that it must be eaten as the body cannot produce it on its own. Omega 3 fatty acids have been found to have anti-inflammatory effects, and can help patients with inflammatory skin disorders such as psoriasis and eczema. Walnuts can be a vital source for omega 3 fatty acids for vegetarians who avoid oily fish (a common source of omega 3 fatty acids).
- Brazil nuts – contain selenium. Selenium is an important component of two antioxidant enzymes in the skin (phospholipid hydroperoxide glutathionine peroxidase and thioredoxin reductase). These enzymes help protect the skin from the harmful effects of free radicals. Selenium deficiency is associated with increased risk of several cancers, including skin cancer.
- Oatmeal – whole oats are rich in antioxidants, including avenanthramides. Avenanthramides have anti-inflammatory effects and reduce skin itching. More importantly, a bowl of oatmeal helps prevent you from those sugary carbs from other breakfast options like bagels or donuts. Sugary carbs promote insulin production and increase androgenic hormones, which cause sebaceous glands to secrete oil and worsen acne.
- Tomatoes – contain lycopene. Lycopene is an antioxidant that can protect against sun-burn and sun-induced skin aging. In a study conducted in the UK in 2008, subjects who consumed tomato paste were found to have 33% more protection against sunburn than controls.
- Green tea – contains teal polyphenols. There is some evidence to suggest that consumption of green ta can increase skin elasticity and skin smoothness, and may reduce sun damage after exposure to UV light.
- Almond Milk – non-dairy option. Dairy products can promote inflammation and worsen acne, psoriasis and eczema in some patients. Adding almond milk to your coffee or morning cereal can help reduce exposure to dairy products and sugary sweeteners.
- Oysters – contains zinc. 6 oysters contain 500% of the daily requirement of zinc, and are less than 60 calories. There is some evidence that zinc can affect sebaceous gland function and improve acne.
- Almonds – high in vitamin E. Multiple studies have found that combined supplementation of vitamin C and vitamin E can protect the skin against UV damage. The combination of these two vitamins ingested orally results in lower amounts of DNA damage after UV exposure.
- Kale – contains high levels of vitamin K, vitamin A and Vitamin C and fatty acids. This is a food powerhouse for the skin.