Do you want to have younger-looking, glowing skin? Well, according to roughly 245,000,000 results on Google, your diet may be the best place to start. Many of us probably have all the latest lotions and potions sitting in our bathrooms right now, but the key to beautiful skin may start from within.
Your skin is the largest organ on the body and your food is the biggest source of energy to fuel and build the body, so it makes sense that one would affect the other. You are what you eat, as the old adage goes.
A balanced diet is the number 1 ingredient to perfect skin, according to most experts. However, there are a few specific nutrients that you can incorporate to try and improve your complexion.
One of the most important components of a healthy skin diet is vitamin A. Vitamin A comes in two types: retinoids and carotenoids. Both of these are then converted by the liver into something called retinol. Retinol stimulates production of new skin cells, so we're not constantly covered in old, dry, flaky skin. Most Retinoids are found in meat, fish and dairy products, whereas Carotenoids are found in plant-based foods such as tomatoes, carrots and sweet potatoes.
Zinc is a mineral known as an "essential trace element" because we only need tiny amounts of it. It does many things for our bodies, but when it comes to your skin it’s important because it helps repair skin damage and keep it soft and supple. It is also involved in the normal functioning of the sebaceous glands (which produce oil in the skin). Acne is caused by inflammation and infection of these sebaceous glands, so making sure they function properly is important to stay blemish-free. You can find plenty of zinc in foods such as fish, whole grains, poultry, nuts and seeds, as well as an assortment of supplements.
Essential fatty acids
We often hear about the importance of essential fatty acids for brain function, but they do a lot for your skin too. They are responsible for keeping your cell membranes healthy and intact, which in turn keeps important things like water and nutrients inside the cells. Water rich cells help minimise the appearance of aging and keep it looking youthful and plump. You can find these essential fatty acids in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats from foods like avocados, nuts, seeds and oily fish.
Vitamin E is fat-soluble micronutrient and is essential for the maintenance of healthy skin. It protects your cells from oxidative stress and the free radicals that do the damage - such as the ones harming your skin cells from UV light, smoke and air pollution. Nuts, seeds, leafy greens and vegetable oils are all rich in vitamin E.
Selenium is an important antioxidant and an essential mineral for the human body. Like with zinc, we don't need much of it to keep us healthy but it can have huge benefits for our skin. It protects our cells from oxidative stress and takes down free radicals similarly to Vitamin E. Selenium is also a key nutrient for your immune system, helping your skin to fight off infections and rashes. Seafood and meats are the best sources, as the levels in plant-based foods vary dependant on the soil they're grown in (something we've touched on before). However, brazil nuts are often considered the number one source for selenium, so having a couple of these a day will do the trick! If in doubt, it's wise to supplement your selenium intake.
Vitamin C is a super antioxidant and is the current trendy ingredient for topical skin creams and acids. The vitamin is best known for supporting the immune system, but also promotes radiant skin and helps blemishes heal properly. Vitamin C is needed to produce collagen and is found in high levels in the skin itself. We've delved deeper into the benefits of vitamin C before on the blog, which explains the way it interacts with the skin in more detail. Vitamin C is found in citrus fruit, guavas, peppers, as well as leafy greens such as kale and spinach.
Green tea has many, many benefits - that's the reason why we use it as the base for all our teas. For your skin specifically, it has anti-inflammatory properties and is a known antioxidant. Current research carried out by dermatologists has shown that green tea can even reduce the risk of damage from ultraviolet light, regardless of whether you’re drinking it or applying it topically to the skin.
Water is probably hailed as the ultimate elixir for healthy, glowing skin. The exact amount of water you need differs by person but sticking to around 2L a day is a good estimate. However, for our skin, it's not about downing as much water as you can stand. You just need to make sure you're getting the minimum required by the body. If your body isn't getting enough, it will show in your skin by becoming dry, tight and flaky. Once your skin has dried out, it'll be more susceptible to damage and wrinkling.
Give it a try
Essentially, the first steps to improving your skin via your diet is to drink plenty of water, have a few cups of green tea, snack on nuts and seeds and make sure you’re getting some fruit in your diet every day! That’s most definitely something we can all start doing and hopefully it’ll cost far less money than our current skincare routine.