Eating For Skin Health

Defining the optimal nutrition for skin can be hard, but we do know some of the factors that influence the current and future health of the skin – which is our body’s biggest organ.

Stay Hydrated

The most important of these is likely hydration.  Water may not seem like something that qualifies as part of your nutritional plan.  However, the most important thing you can do for any of your organs is to maintain adequate perfusion (blood flow) to enable the blood to carry nutrients to the cells and to transport away pollutants.

Look for Foods Rich in Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Omega 3 fatty acids have also been shown to be beneficial to the body overall by reducing inflammation and specifically aid the skin by helping it to retain collagen. We have discussed elsewhere that collagen is a vital substance and that stimulating collagen production with medical grade skin care will keep your skin firmer. You can find Omega 3 fatty acids in both animal and plant sources.  The best sources are (fatty) fish such as Salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines, anchovies, and both albacore and bluefin tuna.  However, if you desire vegetarian options, there are some plant sources rich in omega 3’s. The recommended sources are Flaxseed oil and chia, but you can also find good quality omega 3’s in wheat germ, soy based items, canola oil, spinach, and mustard greens.

Search out Other Sources of Tasty Anti-Oxidants

Adding tomatoes to your spinach salad gives your skin a boost in the form of lycopene – an antioxidant that helps your skin to be smoother.  Other fruits not only contain anti-oxidants but vitamins C and E that can also help your skin.  Examples of these include citrus fruits, strawberries, cantaloupe, and apricots. Skin healthy vegetables also include broccoli and sweet potatoes.

Eat Some Chocolate

Now that we have talked mostly about healthy food, we are going to give you permission to eat a few ounces of chocolate.  Dark chocolate that is at least 60-70% cocoa contains high levels of flavonols – a class of flavonoids that can protect against sun damage and reduce the disagreeable texture of rough skin.

Avoid Harmful Foods and Beverages

Unfortunately, it isn’t enough to eat foods that protect and nurture the skin – it is also necessary to avoid food and beverages that damage the skin.  Excessive sugar is not only harmful to your entire body but can specifically damage the skin as it breaks down.  Alcohol is fine in moderation, but chronic drinking causes larger oil glands and blood vessels which in turn causes the enlargement of the pores, particularly of the nose and chin. Drinking also damages the liver, and the skin can be affected by an excess of bilirubin (causing jaundice) and the poor general health that results from the body being unable to process adequately and eliminate the toxins of daily life.  Lastly, there is emerging evidence that both arsenic exposure and a weakened immune system can be risk factors for non-melanoma skin cancer.  Consume products that are high in arsenic only in moderation, and you should consider eating a diet that gives an overall boost to the immune system to minimize damage from the occasional poor choice.