We are all familiar with the infomercials and commercials subsidized by a multibillion-dollar skin care industry that sells the image of healthy, young and beautiful skin. We try these advertised products and still find ourselves with embarrassing pimples or breakouts every now and then. Since there are so many choices, we move on to the next product in hopes of finally riding ourselves of these awkward blemishes. Research shows when it comes to good skin, what you put in your body is as important as what you put on it. Our skin is the largest organ of the body, and as with any other organ, proper nutrition is key to keeping it healthy.
People rarely take a holistic approach to treating skin. Doctors agree that diet plays an important role in all skin conditions, not just wrinkles and lines, but other skin conditions like acne, eczema and psoriasis. According to dermatologist and skin care expert Nicholas V. Perricone, MD, omega-3 fatty acids help reduce the body’s production of inflammatory compounds – natural chemicals involved in the aging process that affect how healthy the skin looks and feels.
“These fatty acids are responsible for the health of the cell membrane, which is not only what acts as the barrier to things that are harmful, but also the passageway for nutrients to cross in and out and for waste products to get in and out of the cell,’ says Ann Yelmokas McDermott, PhD, nutritionist at Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University. Nuts, grains, and seeds are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. Seafood such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel are also good sources.
Our lifestyle has a significant impact on our outward appearance. If you participate in excessive alcohol use, smoke, or have bad eating habits, it is more likely reflected on your outward appearance. Smoking can cause severe premature aging. We have all witnessed the picture of a severely wrinkled old women’s face on a young, fit, bikini-clad body in an advertisement funded by truth (organizations against tobacco and smoking). Although tobacco and alcohol companies use luxurious settings with attractive young ladies in their advertisements, the long-term effects of smoking and drinking are neither luxurious nor attractive.
Smoking not only introduces over 4,000 chemicals, including 50 substances known to cause cancer, but it also depletes vitamin C, which is a powerful antioxidant. Everyone who has participated in a night of excessive alcohol consumption knows the look and feeling of a hangover. Excessive alcohol leads to a state in which the skin is parched, lips are chapped, and an awful headache ensues. If this is how you look and feel on the outside, you can imagine the damage caused on the inside. Make sure you always drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated, and continuously flush toxins out of the body.
Our skin is the first line of defense to environmental pollutants and toxins. With ozone depletion, one of our main concerns in today’s environment is skin cancer. For each percent of decrease in stratospheric ozone, there is a 2 percent increase in UVB irradiance and therefore, a likely 2 percent increased risk of skin cancer. Daily use of sunscreen is also recommended.
Doctors also say avoiding foods that spike insulin levels, such as simple carbohydrates, including white flour, sugar and starchy foods can control the inflammatory process. The process of aging skin is a byproduct of inflammation and based on this premise, the use of antioxidants is encouraged. Tomatoes, guavas and watermelons are a great source of lycopene, which is a powerful antioxidant. Other important skin healthy foods include sweet potatoes, blueberries and strawberries.
Foods that support healthy skin include:
- Fruits: They are a good source of vitamins and in some cases antioxidants. Always try to include a variety in your diet.
- Nuts, grain and seeds: Provide a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. An ounce of either one of these provide the same amounts of omega-3 as 3.5 ounces of fish.
- Olive oil: Our skin should get at least 2 tablespoons of oil each day for proper lubrication. The beneficial health effects of olive oil are due to its high content of monounsaturated fatty acids and antioxidative substances.
- Tea: Whether its black, white or green, studies indicate it has anti-inflammatory properties.
- Vegetables: The endless benefits of vegetables provide the body with powerful antioxidant properties that we know can help the skin.
- Brazil nuts, turkey and tuna: All these are rich in selenium. Selenium-rich foods help reduce inflammation that is associated with breakouts.
In conclusion, spend more time shopping the grocery aisles and less time in the cosmetic aisles. Nutrition could be the fountain of youth, it can help you achieve a great complexion and maintain a youthful appearance. Stop shuffling through endless varieties of cleansers, creams, and toners. Improve your lifestyle and diet and watch it make a difference in your appearance.