Did you know that your skin is the largest organ in your body? Just like your heart, liver, and other organs, it requires proper care and nourishment. Damaging effects of excess sun exposure, stress, sub-par diet, environmental toxins, and poor sleep habits all take their toll.
While your favorite skincare products may be what you reach for to override the damage, it’s just as important (if not more so) to “pamper” the inside too.
With this in mind, the age-old saying “you are what you eat” takes on new meaning.
As nutritionists, we have found that how one’s skin looks on the outside is often a reflection of what is going on inside.
Want some good news? Your diet can absolutely affect how your skin looks and ages, so you are in the driver’s seat! Here are 5 of our favorite food/drink suggestions to incorporate into your daily meals and snacks, and watch your skin take on a youthful glow!
1). ARM YOURSELF WITH ANTIOXIDANTS
Free radicals (like the kind formed from sun exposure, stress, and poor food choices) can damage the membrane of skin cells. Antioxidants and other nutrients in certain foods can protect the cell and may guard against premature aging. Here is just one more reason a high veggie/fruit intake (think 5-6-servings veg and 2-3 servings fruit per day) can make a huge difference.
- Vitamin C helps form collagen (more on that below). Go for grapefruit, kiwis, all types of berries, plums, red bell peppers, and broccoli.
- Beta carotene is involved in the growth and repair of body tissues, and may protect against sun damage. Go for carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, greens, apricots, and green peppers.
- Selenium may delay aging by protecting skin quality and elasticity. Go for Brazil nuts, which have by far the highest amounts of selenium. Other good sources include turkey/chicken, tuna, salmon and sunflower seeds.
2). FAVOR HEALTHY FATS
The same inflammatory process that can harm our arteries and cause heart disease can harm skin cells too. Quality fats keep cell membranes healthy, which act as the passageway for nutrients to get in and waste products to get out of the cell. In addition, fats are critical for helping you absorb your fat soluble vitamins including vitamin D and vitamin E.
- Get your omega-3’s. Salmon, sardines, walnuts, flax seeds, flax oil, and fish oil supplements all deliver this essential fatty acid.
- Choose other quality fats. Avocados, nuts/seeds, olives and coconuts are also beneficial as well as good natural sources of vitamin E, which can help protect cell membranes and guard against UV radiation damage.
- Get an oil change. Stick mostly with olive oil, coconut oil, macadamia, avocado, and look for those that are organic, and/or extra virgin. Most oils (corn, canola, soy, safflower) are commercially processed and inflammatory, causing more free radical damage and nutrient loss which contributes to aging skin.
3). CALL IN THE COLLAGEN
Wrinkles actually occur when the collagen in your skin breaks down. As we lose collagen, the skin becomes thinner and creases form. Maintaining the right amount of collagen is the key to beautiful skin. Wondering where to find collagen in nature? In this case, we have to go to the other end of the spectrum and look to the skin, bones and joints of (preferably pasture raised) animals!
- Bone broth: When you cook down bones, it breaks down the collagen so it becomes more easily digestible. This form of cooked collagen is better known to us as gelatin. Gelatin is also fabulous for your digestive system, which is charge of absorbing nutrients, removing toxins (which cause all those nasty breakouts) and keeping you hydrated (dehydration will definitely cause some wrinkles).
- Collagen peptides: Studies have shown that taking collagen peptides showed a significant improvement in skin elasticity and skin moisture. We like a collagen peptides from Vital Protein, which mixes easily in hot or cold beverages (you can bake with it too)!
4). PAMPER WITH PROTEIN
Skin is predominantly protein. But protein molecules are not absorbed through the outer layer into underlying tissues. So, you need to supply proteins through the foods you eat daily to keep your skin healthy.
- Choose sources such as wild fish, eggs, organic chicken, turkey, grass-fed meats and plant based proteins such as beans and seeds like (hemp, flax, chia and pumpkin).
- Aim for at least 60 grams of protein per day. As a guide: 3 ounces of meat, chicken or fish (21g), ½ cup beans (8g), an egg (7g), an ounce of nuts/seeds (5g). And don’t discount veggies. Each half cup serving will provide 2-3 grams of protein.
5). HYPE UP HYDRATION
Fluids keep your skin hydrated and help flush toxins. Properly hydration also helps you sweat more efficiently. This can keep skin clean and clear as well.
- Green tea has anti-inflammatory properties, and is protective to the cell membrane. It may even help prevent or reduce the risk of skin cancer. Skip the cream and sugar to make it most nutritious.
- Water. Ditch the coffee and soda. Aim to drink at least 8 cups of water (including tea) every day. Need some more hydration ideas? We got you covered HERE.
STOMP OUT SUGARS
Sugar and refined starches can attach to the collagen in our skin. This is known as glycation, and can cause stiff and sagging skin (wrinkles). A high sugar diet can also increase inflammation in your body, which can accelerate the aging process. Not to mention that sugar messes with hormones, blood sugar and the immune system, and can even steal nutrients and hydration from our skin. If you are looking for more support around getting the sugar out of your diet, check out our Kiss Your Cravings Goodbye program.
What’s the bottom line? While there are many factors affecting our skin that we don’t have control over, what we put in our bodies is one of our best defenses against premature signs of aging. So next time, rather than checking out the skincare products at the mall, check out the produce aisle in your grocery store!
Special Note: While there are tons of skin care products out there, what you put on your skin is as important as what you put in your body. Most of the skincare products available today contain many toxic ingredients, that are easily absorbed into our bodies, so be careful! Here is what we use. We love the way it makes our skin feel. You can check out the ingredients here.