Hi everyone 🙂
This post is all about SKIN! I get asked all the time about the best foods to eat for healthy, glowing skin. I explained a little bit about some of the best vitamins for younger-looking skin in my post about the Mango-Strawberry Glow Smoothie this morning, but I wanted to delve into more detail here…
You may be one of the lucky ones to have escaped pesky breakouts throughout your life and have no need to worry about acne cures, but perhaps you would love to improve your skin’s vitality, firmness, natural glow and even reduce fine lines and wrinkles? All of this is entirely possible with the right nutrients, and without having to shell out for expensive lotions, treatments and facials!
I speak to so many people who have been spending a small fortune on skin products and treatments, whilst failing to nourish it properly from within. They get increasingly frustrated, and understandably so.
While certain foods can greatly help to boost your skin’s health, I must also emphasise that simply adding in a green smoothie, kale salad or an avocado here and there will not transform your skin, hair, nails and figure. It must be a lifestyle shift, which includes eating an abundance of whole plant foods, efficient stress-management, sufficient sleep, water and regular exercise. And NO crash diets! They’re a disaster for your skin’s radiance and health, not to mention your entire metabolism – and sanity. In a sentence, this is the direct route to younger-looking skin.
Nothing can happen instantly, but following many of my recipes and tips on this site will really help.
We can also eat certain types of food to help address specific beauty and health concerns. For many of us (myself included!), a major focus is achieving and maintaining younger-looking skin. Certain nutrients and foods are skin superstars, giving us that healthy glow that anti-ageing creams can only dream of doing, and for a fraction of the price.
Our Skin and Ageing
Our body’s ageing process tends to show up first on our skin, although it can look similar to the effects of photo-damage from sunlight and various environmental toxins. Often called intrinsic ageing, it’s shows up as a decrease in structural support from the two main layers of our skin, the dermis and epidermis. Less collagen is produced, which can increase the fragile texture and appearance of our skin, as well as reducing blood supply and nutrients. Overall, our skin enjoys less protection. This is an unfortunate fact of the ageing process. However, there are certain nutrients proven to be essential for prolonging our skin’s health and vitality….
Beautiful Skin Nutrients
Recent scientific research shows us that there are various vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which our skin especially loves. These deeply nourish and lubricate it from the inside out, and are the very best to eat regularly for glowing, youthful skin. As you’ll see, I’ve aimed to incorporate almost all of these nutrients and foods into my recipes:
1. Zinc: This essential trace mineral is important for healing skin from acne, so it also makes sense that even non-sufferers should eat plenty of zinc to maintain youthful skin.
Zinc controls oil production in our skin, and certain hormones responsible for producing acne. It’s also needed to strengthen our immune system, which helps to fight off the bacteria that can cause spots and infections.
Did you know that zinc is needed for our taste buds to work properly too? Maintaining healthy and normal taste, vision and smell are another responsibility for this magical micro mineral! The food sources of zinc I love are pumpkin seeds, ginger, pecan nuts, Brazil nuts and oats.
2. Selenium: This is another essential trace mineral, needed for maintaining the elasticity and suppleness of our skin.
It’s important as an antioxidant, protecting our cells from damage by toxic free radicals and it can also help to prevent skin cancer by protecting our skin from damage caused by too much exposure to UV light.
The very best source of selenium is raw Brazil nuts, with just two a day providing sufficient amounts. I love to chop them into my salads and porridge. Other good sources include garlic and brown rice.
3. Silica: This a trace mineral important for strengthening our body’s connective tissues. These include muscles, tendons, hair, ligaments, nails, bone and cartilage, making it essential for healthy skin too.
If deficient in silica, our body will also struggle to heal wounds and skin will be less smooth and supple. Silica is so effective in keeping our connective tissues healthy due to its help in creating glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), which are the integral part of structural tissue.
You may have heard of hyaluronic acid, and you may even own a face cream containing this well-known GAG! This is because it has been proven to support the re-generation of skin cells, and to increase the levels of skin-hydrating retinoic acid.
A diet containing plenty of silica can therefore be really effective for halting the signs of ageing skin. My favourite food sources of silica include leeks, strawberries, mango, celery, asparagus, cucumber and green beans. I designed my signature Green Goddess Smoothie to be a good source of skin-strengthening silica 🙂
4. Omega-3 Fats: As essential fats, we don’t produce them in our body, so they must come from our diet everyday. I have worked with so many clients, whose dry, inflamed or spotty skin was hugely improved by increasing their intake of omega-3 fats and decreasing their consumption of vegetable oils and animal fats.
Omega-3 fats are needed for the repair of our skin, to maintain healthy moisture content, for general flexibility and they’re important for the structure of each and every cell wall in our body to keep them fluid and supple.
The typical Western diet tends to be rich in omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids, from eating grains, baked snacks, meat and vegetable oils regularly, but low in omega-3 fats. This can really affect the health of our skin, but simply balancing out our intake of omega-3 fats to omega-6 fats can dramatically improve our skin’s health and result in smoother and younger-looking skin.
I always aim to eat two tablespoons of ground flax seeds each day to ensure I’m getting plenty of healthy fats. Other good sources include walnuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds and chlorella or you could try my Coconut and Frozen Berry Chia Pudding!
5. The ACE Vitamins: These are vitamins A, C and E, which I’ve nicknamed ACE to help you remember how good they are for our skin 🙂
The maintenance and repair of our precious skin is one of the main jobs of vitamin A, and without sufficient amounts in our body, our complexion can become dry, flaky and dull. Pretty much the exact opposite of what we’re aiming for!
Vitamin A-based treatments are often used topically to treat skin problems such as acne, but it’s always best to eat foods rich in vitamin A instead of taking it as a supplement as it can be toxic in high doses.
Some of the very best vitamin A foods include sweet potatoes, spinach, melon, carrots, butternut squash, kale, apricots and mangos. As it is a fat-soluble vitamin, eating foods rich in vitamin A with a small amount of healthy fat like avocado, nuts, seeds or coconut oil, can boost its absorption and therefore increase its beautifying effect for our skin. My Super-Skinfood Spiced Squidge Bars are packed full of the beautifying ACE vitamins!
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, which reduces the free-radical damage to our skin cells caused by pollution or excess sun exposure. These free radicals breakdown the collagen and elastic fibres that support our skin, and cause wrinkles to develop along with other signs of premature ageing.
Particularly when eaten with vitamin E-rich foods, vitamin C is excellent at protecting our skin from too much exposure to the sun.
Some of the very best sources of vitamin C include red and green bell peppers, strawberries, kiwi, oranges, kale, parsley, spinach and broccoli. It’s always best to eat vitamin C from its natural, whole food source as nature intended, because synthetic vitamin C (ascorbic acid) does not offer the full spectrum of health benefits. My Immune-Boosting Goji Berry Blast is a yummy way to fill up with vitamin C!
Vitamin E is another important antioxidant that also reduces damage done to our skin by sun exposure, environmental toxins and poor food choices. It reduces wrinkles and vitamin E oil can be patted onto the skin to reduce the appearance of scars, fine lines and to soothe dry skin.
Some excellent food sources of vitamin E include sunflower seeds, safflower oil, almonds, spinach, prunes, peaches, hazelnuts, mangos, avocados, asparagus and cabbage. Studies have shown that vitamin E supplements can actually causes us harm, so consuming it the natural way is always best! My Sexy Summer Skin Avo and Mango Salad is a simple way to stock up on skin-smoothing vitamin E 🙂