Nourish your skin!
The cliche “you are what you eat” has a lot of truth behind it. The integrity and overall health of your skin depends so much on your diet. Only a small amount of the vitamins and minerals you ingest in your food, actually make it to your skin, so the occasional orange or leaf of spinach won’t really cut it. The list provided below is not definitive, nor is it claiming to be comprehensive. However, I have drawn on some of the current thinking in the world of nutrition and skin, to suggest some ways you can promote skin health via the pleasure of food!
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is key to the production of collagen, a protein that aids in the growth of cells and blood vessels and gives skin its firmness and strength Vitamin C also helps to create scar tissue and cartilage and it helps with skin repair. Even our most potent anti-ageing serum is rich in vitamin C and works wonders against sun damage in particular.
This should be no surprise with there being plenty of Vitamin E creams on the market. Vitamin E helps to keep your skin supple by protecting its top layers from the sun. Foods high in vitamin E include: Tofu, Sunflower seeds, Avocado, Almonds, Spinach & Broccoli (cooked).
A useful tip is to swap your potatoes with cooked Pumpkin or Butternut Squash; both good providers of vitamin E.
Omega-3 essential fatty acids can improve skin’s elasticity. Flaxseeds are a winner in providing omega-3s. My recommendation is a salad that includes Atlantic Salmon, Flaxseeds and Walnuts. The latter are also loaded with copper; a mineral that boosts collagen production
Zinc is an essential mineral for numerous bodily functions including immunity. A deficiency can lead to hair loss and skin blemishes including spots. Average portions of foods which are high in zinc, include beans (eg Baked Beans, Chickpeas), Spinach and Oysters. Seeds eg pumpkin, can provide a valuable top-up.
Carotenoids are excellent anti-oxidants. Some types of carotenoids, eg Beta-carotene, are converted to vitamin A in the body. Consuming adequate amounts of Vitamin A helps maintain healthy skin, teeth, skeletal tissue and mucous membranes, while vitamin A deficiency can cause night blindness, poor growth, increased infections and dry scaly skin. Consumers of green and yellow vegetables have been shown to have fewer wrinkles. One reason may be that carotenoids – which are high in yellow and orange veggies – can decrease skin’s sensitivity to the sun. Foods which are very high in carotenoids and thus also good providers of vitamin A include, Carrots (better raw or cook with minimal water), Sweet Potato and Pumpkin. Other providers include Spinach, Cantaloupe, Apricots and Broccoli. If you want an easy way, try drinking Carrot or Tomato juice.
Cocoa hydrates your skin, making it firmer and more supple. Wait for it – dark chocolate contains high levels of flavonols; a potent type of antioxidant. For maximum flavonol content, eat chocolate that is at least 70% cocoa. One or two squares should help you on your way to glowing skin!