We all want that dewy, youthful glow to our skin and there’s no better way to make that happen than to eat a healthy, balanced diet. Our skin’s appearance is the first thing people notice and when our skin looks good, we feel good about ourselves.
To obtain beautiful skin, it begins from the inside out. Our food choices make a huge difference and when we feed ourselves the nutrients to make this happen, our skin is a reflection of that.
Some of our biggest beauty concerns have to do with appearance of aging skin – wrinkles, discoloration, adult acne, and sagging skin. There are many factors that can determine how well our skin ages from genetics, environmental damage and our lifestyle choices.
One of the biggest reasons for damage to our skin is a result of oxidation which is the loss of electrons during a reaction by molecules called free radicals which take electrons from healthy cells. Sun damage and cigarette smoking are two of the most damaging oxidative stressors our skin is exposed to.
If you’ve never smoked – good for you but if you currently do so, there is no better time than now to quit smoking for the health of your skin among other reasons. Always wear sunscreen every day to protect skin from damaging UVA and UVB rays.
Another lifestyle habit we must embrace if we want to protect our skin is to eat a diet rich in antioxidants. These powerful substances found mostly in fresh fruits and vegetables, help prevent or stop cell damage caused by oxidants. They also stand guard against damage caused by the harmful molecules of free radicals. To get the best results from these nutrients, obtain them from food and not supplements.
Here are the top 5 nutrients to get that healthy glow you’ve always wanted:
Beta-carotene is an orange pigment with antioxidant abilities. It is also a precursor or provitamin of vitamin A meaning it is converted into the active form of vitamin A after the food containing it is consumed. Many skin creams tout their vitamin A content and for good reason – vitamin A is necessary for the growth and repair of body tissues along with protecting your skin from sun damage. Do not take supplements of pure vitamin A as it can be toxic. Foods containing beta-carotene include carrots, cantaloupe, apricots, red bell peppers, mangoes, and sweet potatoes.
2. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
These super healthy fats must be included in a diet for radiant skin. They work not only by protecting skin from sun damage but also by maintaining cell membranes to effectively keep moisture and nutrients in but bar harmful toxins that can damage skin. Omega-3 fatty acids are also known to act as an anti-inflammatory substance resulting in a visible reduction in inflammatory skin conditions like acne and psoriasis. A 2016 study found omega-3 fatty acids to reduce the occurrence of non-melanoma skin cancer (basal and squamous), especially in people who are at high risk.
Best sources include wild salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines, anchovies, flaxseed, walnuts, olive oil and soybeans.
This mineral has many important functions one of which is protecting the skin’s firmness and elasticity while also providing protection from the sun. Selenium neutralizes free radicals and other skin-damaging compounds before they can lead to wrinkles. It works with vitamin E in safeguarding cell membranes, the protective coating around cells. Inflammation caused by stress, sun damage and other factors can age skin, contributing to the breakdown of collagen. Selenium reduces the amount of inflammatory cytokines which are molecules that build up in the body harming healthy skin.
The selenium content in foods is affected by the soil where the animal was raised or the plant was grown. The very best food source is Brazil nuts which ¼ cup contains 681 micrograms which far exceeds the daily recommendation for selenium of 55 micrograms for both men and women. Because of the high concentration of selenium in Brazil nuts, consume no more than 1 or 2 a day. Other food sources include lean beef, shrimp, turkey, chicken breast, wheat germ, mushrooms and eggs.
4. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is well-known for being good to our skin due to its skill of producing collagen helping to keep our skin firm. It also acts as an antioxidant by reducing damage caused by free radicals that can do harm to our skin. Our body does not store vitamin C so each day we need to eat good sources to replenish it – oranges, bell peppers, pineapple, strawberries, tomatoes, watermelon, blueberries, broccoli, and cantaloupe.
5. Vitamin E
This powerful antioxidant works closely with both vitamin C and selenium to give skin that extra boost eradicating free radicals wanting to cause cell damage. Like the other nutrients on the list, it too guards your skin against damage from the sun’s UV radiation. The best food sources of vitamin E are spinach, Swiss chard, wheat germ, fortified whole-grain cereals, nuts and seeds canola oil and olive oil.