Great skin leaves a lasting impression. And as one of the most obvious parts of us that signals aging, we all want to protect its health and prevent premature lines and wrinkles. Creams and moisturizers help, but since our skin’s appearance is deeply linked to our general well-being, a healthy glow can only be achieved from the inside out. These are the foods you want to eat frequently to keep your skin looking its very best.
Dark green leafy vegetables, like spinach, collard greens, kale or broccoli greens, are always available and eating a variety every day provides almost every micronutrient your skin needs. Aside from protecting us against cancer, diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer’s and heart disease, leafy greens are important for our skin as they are rich in antioxidants such as vitamin A, vitamin E and beta-carotene that combat the damage caused by free radicals, as well as essential beauty vitamins and minerals like B vitamins, iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium. Leafy greens are also high in anti-inflammatory flavonoids, which help quench inflammatory conditions such as acne and eczema. It’s easy to get lots of green leafy veggies into your diet by starting the day with a mean green smoothie.
Fruit is second only to greens as the most nutrient-packed beauty food, yet some people avoid it because they’ve heard that fruit is fattening. While fruits like bananas, grapes, dates and mango are high in sugar (as fructose) and should be eaten in moderation, the key difference between the sugar in fruit and the kind you stir into your coffee is fiber. Fiber is essential for healthy skin as it helps your body eliminate toxins through the digestive system – toxins that might otherwise wind up being eliminated through your skin.
Fruit also contains lots of water, so it has a very hydrating effect on the skin. Fruit as a snack can be very effective in dealing with sugar cravings. It might be challenging at first – especially if you’re used to sugary sweets – but keep reaching for the fruit instead of the processed granola bars and you’ll soon appreciate the benefits!
3. Healthy Fats
Eating fat is essential to maintaining good health and vital for healthy skin. Our body produces some of the fats we need to survive, but others we need to get daily through our diet – the famous essential fatty acids (EFAs), also known as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, critical for the body to produce healthy cells, including skin cells. It’s vital to remember that the only way to get these essential fats is through your diet or by taking a supplement. They also need to be consumed in the right ratio for optimal health (and skin). Processed and refined foods are full of omega-6s, and upset the balance with omega-3s, causing inflammation and promoting acne, psoriasis, rosacea, and many other skin conditions.
Essential fatty acids also help produce sebum, the oily substance which keeps your skin hydrated and youthful-looking. EFA deficiency causes your skin to become dry, flaky and itchy. You’ll also be more sensitive to sunlight, more prone to breakouts, and more likely to develop psoriasis.
4. Fermented Foods
Before the food industry decided to start pasteurizing foods like yogurt and cheese, many such foods were rampant with bacteria – and they were better for us. Healthy, thriving colonies of bacteria on your skin and in your intestines play a major role in keeping you healthy. People with imbalances in gut bacteria are prone to digestive problems and allergies. Your gut flora support the healthy functioning of everything from your digestive tract to your immune system and from your brain to your skin. Healthy bacteria on the surface of the skin help keep our skin clear and acne free. You can nourish your gut bacteria by taking probiotics (friendly microorganisms) and adding fermented foods like kombucha, sauerkraut, natural yogurt and kimchi to your diet.
Spices like cinnamon, turmeric and cayenne pepper have a beneficial effect on the skin. They increase blood flow and circulation; are packed with vitamins and minerals, fight inflammation and improve your body’s ability to fight free radicals. They also promote the production of collagen – which provides our skin structure and elasticity. Just as they excite your taste buds, they stimulate your cells to perform better. Make it a habit to use them liberally in all your recipes!
Finally – healthy, beautiful, glowing skin reflects healthy eating habits. Food wise, life can help you get on the path to super skin now with the Skin Health Plan: https://www.foodwise.life/program/skin-health.
In need of more nutritional inspiration? The Clever Kitchen’s next lunch workshop on May 2nd at Stars’n’bars is dedicated to “Super Skin”. Email Susan to confirm; firstname.lastname@example.org
And try this meal to make your skin super happy!
Supercharged Anti-aging Salad
1 cup cooked red quinoa
1 cup chopped broccoli florets
1 chopped yellow or orange pepper
1 cup cooked green beans (chopped 1 inch)
1/2 red onion chopped
1/4 cup unsalted pistachios
1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1 handful chopped coriander
1 tbs hemp seeds
10 basil leaves
1 tsp tahini
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbs filter water
1 crushed clove of garlic
pinch of Himalayan salt
Add all the salad ingredients to a bowl and mix well
Blend all the dressing ingredients with a hand blender, pour over the salad and toss well.
Serves 6 as a side dish.