We often hear the statement that “we are what we eat”. This is not far from the truth as experts always tell us how diet plays an important role in our health.
Without a proper diet, our health suffers as a result and this often shows on the appearance of our skin.
Take for example, when we don’t drink sufficient water. We feel dehydrated and it starts showing on the skin as it becomes dry and dull among other things, and this may lead to some skin problems in the long run including other health complications.
The skin is the body’s largest organ made-up of different layers. It protects us from various environmental factors such as light, injury, and bacterial infections, among others.
If we don’t take care of our skin inside out, we are doing ourselves a disservice, as it will not have the capacity to shield us from the harsh external environment.
According to research, there are key micronutrients that play a vital role in maintaining skin health, such as vitamins A, C, D, E, and minerals such as zinc, copper, and selenium.
Healthy fats such as omega -3and -6 fatty acids are also thought to have skin health benefits.
Adding the foods rich in these micronutrients in our diets will benefit the skin and overall health, as opposed to just targeting specific foods as this will be counter-intuitive.
A diverse and healthy balanced diet is a way to go, that’s what experts usually recommend.
“While there’s no mistaking how our diet affects our overall health, we are just beginning to understand how certain foods or lack thereof can impact our skin’s health, said Dr. Suzan C Taylor”- Sciencedaily
Without further ado let’s find out what foods benefit the skin health.
Are Omega-3 and -6 Fatty Acids Really Good For Your Skin?
Omega -3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties, while omega -6 on the other hand is pro inflammatory when ingested in excess. A good balance between these two fatty acids is said to be essential.
“Researchers found that the acids reduce damage from the ultraviolet (UV) radiation and markers of inflammation and immunosuppression in the skin”
“A diet high in omega -3 fatty acids, may, therefore, help reduce inflammatory symptoms and help the skin less reactive to UV rays from the sun”- Medical News Today
Omega-3 rich foods include: fatty fish such as mackerel, sardines, and herring
Plant-based omega-3 and 6 fatty acids include: nuts (almonds, walnuts), canola oil, flax seeds, etc
Selenium, Copper, And Zinc Rich Foods Are Good For A Healthy And Glowing Skin
The above-mentioned minerals are beneficial to a healthy skin. They act as antioxidants and protect the skin from damage caused by ultraviolet rays.
Although sunlight helps the skin to synthesize vitamin D too much exposure can cause sunburn and produce free radicals in the skin thus causing oxidative stress.
“This, in turn, activates enzymes that break down collagen and damage the DNA of cell causing premature aging”
“Exposure to UV rays can cause premature aging of the skin and signs of sun damage such as wrinkles, leathery skin, liver spots, actinic keratosis, and solar elastosis”, says American Cancer Society
According to Skin Cancer Foundation “unprotected exposure to UVA and UVB damages the DNA in skin cells, producing genetic defects or mutations that can lead to skin cancer (as well as skin aging)”
These rays can also cause eye damage, including cataracts and eyelid cancers.
Selenium rich foods: seafood (salmon, sardines, etc), organ meats, brazil nuts, grains (brown rice, lentils) dairy products, muscle meats ( chicken, beef, turkey) and cereals, eggs, spinach – National Institute of Health
Zinc-rich foods include: pumpkin seeds, chicken, almonds, kidney beans, cashews, green peas, chickpeas, baked beans national institute of Health
Copper rich foods: potato skin, oyster, chickpeas, seeds, and nuts, beans, avocados, “sun dried” tomatoes, dark chocolates, etc.
Vitamin A, C, D, and E Work Along With Other Nutrients To Boost Skin Health
The skin protects our bodies against external environmental factors such as bacterial infections and UV light among others.
Vitamins C and E along with zinc, selenium and copper act as antioxidants. These antioxidants work with other nutrients such as vitamins A and D to maintain overall skin health.
Vitamin A protects the skin against UV rays which could cause damage to skin cells. It also increases the skin hydration and moisture.
Beta-carotene, and lutein act as antioxidants as well and support the skin immune system.
Vitamin A, food sources include: carrots, sweet potatoes, leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, liver
“Exposure to excess UV light induces oxidative stress impacting the genetic integrity of a living organism, including the skin”
“This also triggers the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines which may result in degraded collagen and skin elasticity” according to research
Vitamin C, on the other hand, plays a role in collagen synthesis, as well as wound healing among other roles and it’s thought to “significantly suppress free radicals induced by UV light and protect the cells from oxidative stress”
“Inefficacy studies on human skin, vitamin C significantly increased epidermal moisture content, improving skin hydration”
Vitamin C rich foods include blueberries, sweet potatoes, citrus fruits like oranges, and lemon, broccoli, and strawberries.
Vitamin D is also involved in wound healing and in regulating skin inflammation among its other roles. It is also thought to prevent the skin from premature aging. If, ingested in healthy amounts.
Vitamin D food sources include: mushrooms, egg yolk, salmon, tuna, mackerel, and fortified foods
Vitamin E, with its antioxidant effects, boost the immune system, prevents skin inflammation and collagen damage due to UV light.
Vitamin E food sources: almonds, sunflower seeds, spinach, broccoli, peanuts, vegetable oils.
Keeping Your Body Hydrated benefit Skin Health
Water keeps the skin hydrated and help rid the body and skin of toxins. Drinking water improves complexion, aids in digestion, assist in the absorption of nutrients, and improves the blood oxygen circulation, to name just a few roles.
“A 2007 study by in the international journal of Cosmetic Science took an in-depth look at the effects of long term water intake on skin health.
The study found that drinking 2.5 liters (9.5) of water every day for four weeks altered skin density and thickness”
“A second study from the University of Missouri Columbia showed that drinking 500 milliliters of water( about two cups) increased blood flow to the skin- Forefront Dermatology
The Final Thought
As research reveals, the skin is the largest organ of the body. It plays an important role in shielding our bodies against external environmental factors such as UV rays, bacterial injury, and bacterial infections.
Whilst the skin protects us from the harsh external environment, it needs to be fed certain nutrients to be able to carry out its function.
These nutrients and include: omega -3and-6 fatty acids, vitamins A, C, D, E, along with minerals such as selenium, copper, and zinc.
Some of these nutrients have antioxidant properties that boost the immune system, prevent skin inflammation and collagen damage due to UV light and other external environmental factors.
Water is also a key role player in benefiting the skin health by keeping it hydrated. Drinking sufficient amount of water is necessary to hydrate the body and skin.
It also assists other processes such as digestion, absorption, and circulation. “Dehydration and lack of certain key nutrients reflect on the appearance of the skin”
In a nutshell, a diverse and healthy balanced diet is key as this will not only maintain our skin health but will also benefit our overall health.
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