During the winter months it can be especially difficult to have nice skin. Did you know there are certain foods and supplements that can help?
Have you tried anti-aging serums, BB creams, masks that dry out pimples and just about anything else with pretty packaging and believable claims to improve your skin? If you’ve spent quality time in Sephora or Ulta looking for the Fountain of Youth and Acne/Blotchiness/Rosacea - Free skin, it is now time to pay closer attention to what you eat, drink and the dietary supplements you take. Because topical products will not do enough to slow down the effects of skin, hair and nail aging.
What you put in your body will affect your skin, hair and nails on a cellular level and support your immune system defenses against environmental stresses that damage skin and lead to premature aging.
Your skin is the largest organ in the human body (yes it is an organ!). And it has a natural defense system that protects your body from bacteria, viruses, environmental pollutants and more. And, several substances help your skin work as a protective barrier.
Antioxidants protect against cellular damage and aging due to free radicals (though they do much, much more in the body). And, carotenoids are one of the major categories of antioxidants that are vital for skin health. Carotenoids such as lycopene, lutein, zeaxanthin, beta and alpha-carotene, offer some protection against skin damage due to the sun’s UV rays (they help prevent red, irritated skin) yet their ability to protect is directly related to their accumulation in the skin (meaning that you must consume enough carotenoids frequently so they accumulate). Carotenoids may also boost collagen and prevent DNA damage, which contributes to skin aging. This category of compounds is found in yellow, orange and red pigments in plants making them easy to find if you look for fruits and vegetables in those colors.
Antioxidants - Flavonoids
Another category of antioxidants, flavonoids, which are found in green and black tea, onions, citrus fruits, berries and many other foods, also play an important role in maintaining healthy collagen and elastin (structural components of your skin), protecting against free radicals and DNA damage and aging. In addition to these food components, vitamin D is critical for skin integrity and keeping inflammation and wrinkles at bay yet vitamin D is found naturally in very few foods (the bones in fish for instance). Vitamin C is necessary for healthy collagen and biotin, aka the “skin, hair and nails” supplement enhances the strength and durability of fingernails. And finally, the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA found in fatty fish, have important anti-inflammatory functions within the body and also help decrease wrinkling. Skimp on dietary fat overall and your skin will look rough and dry.
A Beautifying Diet
So, how can you put all of this information together and consume a beautifying diet? Eat a diet rich in red, yellow and orange produce. Cook your tomatoes and add a little olive oil so the lycopene is better absorbed (cooking enhances the bioavailability of this carotenoid and fat is necessary for optimal absorption). Also, be sure to eat beans, seeds, fatty fish and take a multivitamin supplement daily. No matter how good your diet is, chances are you fall short on certain vitamins or minerals.
Though topical products (especially sunscreens!) can improve skin health and prevent photo damage from the sun, they typically do not penetrate the deep layers of the skin. However, food and dietary supplements affect beauty from within. Therefore, if you want drastic changes in skin health, combine cosmetic products with a sound diet and skin specific dietary supplements.