Our skin is the first defence against the environment. Its primary function is to act as a barrier against damage from the environment around us, and as such, it takes quite a bashing.
Skin health, like body health, is reliant upon a varied diet that limits sugar intake and features plenty of fruit and vegetables. It’s also worth knowing that there are some key vitamins and minerals that are crucial for a radiant glow and accessing them through our diet is the best way to get them.
Read on to find out which foods support optimal skin health.
Vitamins and Fats.
Our skin contains high concentrations of Vitamin C (also known as ascorbic acid). Vitamin C supports important functions of the skin like stimulating collagen synthesis and protecting us against the damaging effects of the sun. The antioxidant properties of Vitamin C make it vital to skin health. Most people associate Vitamin C with citrus fruits, but it is also present in vegetables like broccoli, sprouts and red and green peppers.
Vitamin E is another antioxidant and anti-inflammatory vitamin that is important in skin health. It is particularly important in protecting the skin from stressors like sun damage and oxidative stress, the best sources of Vitamin E from your diet are from nuts, spinach, whole grains and Olive Oil.
When it comes to selecting your cooking oils you can’t do much better than Olive Oil for skin, Omega-3 fatty acid is a great anti-inflammatory that is good for many things including the treatment of inflammatory skin issues like acne, eczema and rosacea. Oily fish, nuts, seeds and olive oil are all good sources of Omega-3.
Minerals are essential constituents of body fluids and tissues and many of them play a role in optimal skin health. You may have seen minerals like zinc and selenium mentioned on skin product packets or dietary supplements.
Sulphur is the third most abundant mineral in your body, after calcium and phosphorous. It's an important mineral element that you get almost wholly through dietary proteins. Connective tissue and cartilage contain sulphur bonds that give things like our skin and muscles flexibility. With age, the flexible tissues in the body tend to lose elasticity, which can lead to the dreaded ‘sagging’ and ‘wrinkling’ we experience as we age. It is thought that a shortage of Sulphur is thought to contribute to these age-related problems. So, if you want to protect against ageing, make sure you are getting a good supply of Sulphur in your diet!
Sources of Sulphur include cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, brussel sprouts and turnips. And protein-rich foods, such as fish, poultry, meats, nuts and legumes, which are quite well documented as being good for building and maintaining healthy skin, hair and nails, are also good dietary sources of sulphur.
It’s Not All About Vitamins and Minerals.
A varied diet that includes a range of vitamins and minerals is key, but there are other things to bear in mind too.
There are a bunch of great compounds called phytonutrients, chemical compounds found in plants, that are also thought to be beneficial to human health. These nutrients are only found in plants and are common in colourful vegetables and fruits. The nutrients are concentrated in the skins, so to get the maximum benefit from phytonutrients wash your veg thoroughly and try and keep the skins on. Eating organic varieties is going to be much better here as you are less likely to be exposed to chemicals. The general advice is to eat as many and as varied a range of vegetables and fruits in your diet as you can as there are a wealth of beneficial substances available to us within them.
Diets high in sugar have been shown to be linked to premature aging of the skin. Sugar disrupts the integrity of the skin. So, a reduction in sugar intake is not only beneficial for the skin, but beneficial to health in general.
It’s inevitable that our skin will naturally age. Wrinkles and age spots are the inevitable result of time, and it may also be sped up by overexposure to the sun, chemicals and poor nutrition. With this in mind, treat your skin kindly and optimise your nutrition by eating antioxidant-rich fruit and vegetables, healthy fats from oily fish and nuts, and a varied and balanced diet.
For a range of healthy recipes, visit The Mindful Cook
Here’s to your health, happiness and beautiful skin!
About the author: Josie Buck is a food and eating coach. Through her company, The Mindful Cook, she runs food and well-being retreats and offers health coaching services based on her training in eating psychology and applied nutrition. You can find out more about The Mindful Cook and access lots of recipes with health at heart on her website, The Mindful Cook