In our never ending quest for radiant skin, the old saying ‘you are what you eat’ is so true! Radiant skin comes mainly from the inside out. On the outside, we all have our favorite lotions, potions and beauty treatments, but glowing skin starts with nourishment from within. Skin cells are constantly shedding and being replaced by newer ones. Unfortunately, as we age this process slows down leaving the skin looking dull, lifeless and frankly – old!
A steady supply of micronutrients is essential to support rapid skin cell renewal, so eating a healthy balanced diet, full of antioxidant rich foods that feed and nourish the skin from the inside and avoiding high sugar, processed foods that damage the skin, is vital to this process. Thankfully, there are home remedies for glowing skin and we can eat our way soft, supple, radiant and blemish-free skin. However, there are also extrinsic factors that influence skin health, like excess and prolonged sun exposure, pollution, cigarette smoke, toxins, lack of sleep and stress, but these are all factors that can easily be controlled and avoided in the quest for radiant skin!
Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, an antioxidant that helps to keep the skin radiant, soft and supple. This is because beta-carotene is a precursor to vitamin A, which is needed for healthy skin and mucous membranes, as well as for a healthy immune system, eye health and good vision. As an added bonus, beta-carotene is also known to help protect the skin against free radical damage from excess sun exposure. So for healthy, radiant skin include lots of beta-carotene rich foods like carrots, sweet potatoes and butternut squash in your diet.
The exceptionally high vitamin C content found in guavas makes them a powerful antioxidant rich skin protector, not only from the damaging effects of the sun but also to help prevent the free radical damage that causes wrinkles and age spots. Vitamin C is also necessary for collagen synthesis, essential for healthy, firm skin. So make guavas and other vitamin C-rich fruits like kiwis, strawberries and citrus fruits a regular part of your skin loving diet, they will have a very positive effect on the condition and radiance of your skin.
Unheated oils are good for the skin, especially the ones from the vegetable kingdom. Technically, avocado is a fatty fruit. It contains high amounts of omega 6 fatty acids, which is not fattening because the oils are easily used by the body for energy. They also contain lecithin; which helps to reduce blood cholesterol levels. The skin needs “good” fats to moisturize the skin from the inside out. It’s useless slapping on moisturizers when your diet is lacking in the oils it needs to moisturize the skin from the inside out. Cutting back on the good stuff will only make your skin look less than sparkling. I like avocado because it’s easy to eat – just add it to salad or make a dip and you have eaten some nutrient dense essential fatty acids.
Water makes up around 75 to 85% of your body; it’s in every part of your body including your teeth and hair. Even though we’ve heard it all before, drinking pure water hydrates your body and skin. Keeping the cells hydrated, so they can easily uptake nutrients and remove waste. Wondering how much to drink? It depends on how much cooked food or dense food you eat. If you have a salad for lunch everyday and fresh fruit as a snack, this reduces your need for water. Caffeine, exercise frequency, spicy food, sugar animal foods, alcohol, and salt all increase your need for water. The warmer months also require you drink more. Allow your natural thirst to dictate how much water you need. 6 to 8 glasses a day is a good estimate.
This cleansing hot beverage is packed with pure goodness. It benefits the skin because it contains high antioxidant levels, called polyphenols. A diet high in antioxidants is helpful for reducing premature aging because it can prevent excessive free radical damage.
Beetroot is a blood cleanser and has a slight laxative effect. Skin health relies on healthy blood and circulation. The healthier your blood, the healthier your skin because this is where your skin gets most of its nutrition from. Beetroot has been a popular ingredient throughout Eastern Europe and is found in many soup and salad dishes. Claimed to be a ‘blood cleaner’ beetroot makes the perfect spring salad to accompany your lunch or evening meal.
Have you ever noticed how youthful Japanese skin is? I’ve seen Japanese grandmothers with skin that is truly timeless. Along with the daily green tea, the Japanese eat sea vegetables, a totally different food group that deserves more attention. Seaweeds are high in minerals, absorbed from the ocean. Iodine (important for the thyroid health), magnesium, iron, calcium, sodium and now a very good food to help detox heavy metals from the body due to high levels of alginic acid, which bind with any heavy metals in the intestines. Minerals are important for maintaining proper hydration levels, nervous system function and healthy blood composition. The detox effect helps keep you squeaky clean on the inside making your skin look healthy and vibrant. Seaweeds are also a source of glyconutrients. Glyconutrients are a set of necessary monosaccharides (essential sugars) that are vital to the correct structure and function of human cells. These sugars are required by cells to perform many functions including cell protection, replication, and recognition and tissue regeneration. They help the cells “communicate” with the other cells.
In no other culture was beauty and body care so important than to the Egyptians. Cleopatra was said to have recorded a book of beauty secrets she perfected. Almonds were one of the most commonly used cosmetic ingredients. Besides its external benefits (sweet almond oil makes gorgeous body oil), almonds eaten everyday will help keep your skin clear and healthy. The raw nut is alkaline and contains monounsaturated fats, vitamin E and is a high protein food. Almonds contain magnesium, which promotes blood flow and aids the nervous system and calcium. Just a handful of almonds a day will be good for your skin and in time you will notice the difference.
Vitamin A, or retinol, is one of the most widely acknowledged vitamins beneficial for skin health and synthetic versions have been used successfully as a treatment for severe acne and psoriasis for over 30 years. Vitamin A influences the physiology of the skin by promoting epidermal differentiation, inhibiting sebaceous gland activity and promoting quicker skin cell turnover. Retinol creams are commonly prescribed by dermatologists for topical application, as they increase skin cell turnover, which helps to minimize fine lines and age spots. Food sources of vitamin A include oily fish, liver, eggs and cod liver oil. Vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots and squash are rich in beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A in the body. It’s idea to get your vitamin A from food sources or if supplementing, as part of an antioxidant formula along with vitamins C, E and the mineral selenium.
Vitamin E is considered to be one of the most crucial antioxidants for skin health because it protects skin cell membranes. Vitamin E is often added to face creams as it is thought to be beneficial when applied topically. Natural sources of vitamin E include vegetable oils such as sunflower oil, grains, oats, nuts and seeds. For extra skin protection and support consider supplementing with a high-quality vitamin E supplement or an antioxidant formula containing vitamins E, A, C and selenium.
Adequate zinc levels are needed for optimal skin health as zinc is important for the normal functioning of the sebaceous glands in the skin, thus helping to minimize blemishes and breakouts. Zinc also helps repair skin damage, like scarring and stretch marks. Low zinc levels are quite prevalent and very often a supplement will positively affect dry skin conditions. Always choose a zinc supplement that contains small amounts of copper, as they work synergistically.