The old cliché saying that “beauty starts from within,” is actually quite accurate when it comes to the health of our skin (as well as the self-confidence and self-kindness that comes with it). Our skin is so important in that it acts as the first layer of defense against the outside world, but it can also provide some important clues to your overall health.
Although we know good skin is partly due to our genes, and over time we do see that our body is less capable of coping with everyday wear and tear, we know that focusing on nourishing our skin from the inside out and maintaining healthy lifestyle habits is key to keeping our skin functioning at it’s best and as healthy as it can be.
Therefore, knowing how to take good care of your skin is essential so that your skin too can keep taking good care of you. This is why we have compiled some of our top food and lifestyle tips for keeping your skin healthy and youthful so that you will be glowing from the inside and out.
1. Feed Your Skin
Be reassured, that no one food causes bad skin, and therefore be completely avoided (unless there is an underlying undiagnosed intolerance or allergy at play). Essentially, prevention is the best medicine when it comes to healthy aging skin, and therefore the overall diet over a lifetime is what matters most. However, of all the nutrients in our diet, there are several that we know are very important for optimal skin health and function, including vitamins A, B2, B3, B6, C, D, E, zinc, and selenium. The great news is, many of these are found naturally in a varied and balanced diet, and therefore unless you are clinically deficient in one or more of these nutrients, the majority of people do not have to worry about supplementing any of these vitamins or minerals, and although these nutrients are important for skin health, more does not necessarily mean better outcomes.
2. Include a Variety of Fruits & Vegetables
The most important tip when comes to eating a good diet for skin health, is to ensure you are choosing a wide variety of fruits & vegetables. This is because we need to supply our skin and bodies with a wide variety of nutrients including antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, which cannot be achieved through a diet limited in fruits and vegetables. Following the current healthy eating guidelines and including 2 fruits and 5 vegetables each day, and keeping them varied, can provide our body with enough to the rich source of antioxidants, and vitamins that it needs. These antioxidants and vitamins are key in protecting and repairing our skin from free radicals, caused by exposure to environmental factors, that can damage our skin cells. Read more about these environmental factors in the “Habits to Avoid” below.
3. Add in Healthy Omega 3’s
Adding in a regular source of healthy fats, including omega-3 fatty acids, has been shown to improve skin health. Omega 3’s are found in a variety of foods, including fish, seafood, legumes, nuts, seeds. Essentially, the Omega 3’s reduce the process of inflammation in the body, and can upregulate wound healing.
4. Aim for Low GI foods
There are findings from several small studies that suggest a diet that contains predominantly low-GI (glycemic index) foods has been shown to reduce acne experienced in young adults. Low-glycemic foods are typically “less processed”, and include fresh vegetables, most fruits, legumes, and wholegrains. Low-glycemic diets reduce inflammation throughout your body and prevent excess sebum (an oily substance in your skin) production, which together can help prevent acne.
5. What about collagen?
There is new evidence suracing that appears to suggest that oral collagen supplementation with collagen peptides is efficacious in improving hallmarks of ageing skin. These collagen peptides are a mix of specific amino acids, including hydroxyproline, glycine, and proline, which are extracted from animal connective tissues, and once digested and sbsorbed into the body, may reach the skin and be retained for up to 2 weeks. Whilst this may make you intruiged to go out and try these supplements, it may also be helpful to know, you can have similar benefits from your diet alone. We find many of these amino acids in the proteins we have in our diet. Therefore consuming a diet that contains quality proteins including meat, poultry, fish, legumes, and meat alternatives can be a great dietary approach to maintaining healthy skin and prevent some of the signs of early skin ageing.
6. Keep Hydrated!
Staying hydrated is one of the easiest ways to improve the health of your skin. That means drinking 30-35mL/kg of body weight per day, and more during summer or if you are highly active. Fluids that are mainly water are best, but you can also include other fluids such as low-fat milk, sugar-free drinks, teas, and coffee. Also, remember fluids are in foods too! So eating fresh and water-rich foods such as watermelon, cucumber, spinach, tomato, broccoli, apples, pears, oranges, and berries are all great options to improve the hydration of your skin, and boost your antioxidant intake too!
7. Be Active!
Keeping active throughout the day will improve the flow of blood to the surface of the skin, as this helps us to maintain our body temperature, but also improves the influx of nutrients to our skin cells, therefore improving skin repair and maintenance. Including activity that gets your heart racing is best for blood flow – exercises such as dancing, jogging, or playing your favourite sport are a few good examples.
Some Habits to Avoid
Certain lifestyle habits can impact the condition of your skin due to added free radicals which impair our skin’s ability to repair itelf. These lifestyle factors include:
Sun exposure, UVA, and UVB rays
A poor diet, particularly those lacking in antioxidants and fatty acids
Excessive alcohol intake
Chronic sleep deprivation
Genetics (out of your control!)
If you are on a journey to good skin health, the best thing you can do is start today! Be proactive and take the health of your skin into your own hands and achieve that healthy glow by eating a diet that is well balanced, including lots of hydrating fluids, avoiding excessive sun exposure, smoking, and alcohol, and staying active! On an additional note, while diet may play a role in causing your breakouts or worsening acne, keeping clear skin clear can often require more than just a change in diet. Visiting your GP in combination with a dermatologist can be extremely helpful, as they will guide you to which acne-friendly skincare is best for you, and prescribe acne medication as needed.
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