Skin is not only the largest organ (yes it’s an organ) of our body, but unlike other organs it is a visible billboard to our health or lack thereof. It tends to be awkward to inspect Mr. Bloggins and comment “Wow, his liver and adrenals look healthy, youthful and fresh.” But the skin is front and centre for all to inspect, noting the flaws not only in our skin but possibly in our health. Many, many medical conditions are manifested by changes in the skin and doctors are trained to spot certain indications ranging from liver and kidney diseases to hormonal problems to nutritional deficiencies, to substance abuse (alcohol, drugs and tobacco), to cardiovascular problems….the list is actually huge.
When we think skincare we think of what we should or should not do to our visible skin from the outside. What few of us consider is that skin is two sided. If we took off our hide, there is another side to our skin that also requires skin care. Skin nutrition needs to be considered from what goes on it and what goes on underneath it.
Leaving aside the external skincare for a different article, this article will focus on what we can ingest to make our skin healthier from the INSIDE. What you eat can significantly affect the health and aging of your skin. Foods that are effective antioxidants, have a high Omega 3 content and are rich in Vitamins C and E tend to lead the way. But it’s not only about fats, fatty acids and Omega 3s.
Healthline has actually listed what they consider the top 12 foods for healthy skin to be, and why. There is an obvious emphasis on fats, oils, fatty acids and Omega 3s but a few pleasant surprises too.
1. Omega 3
Fatty fish as well as plant and nut based omega 3s are number one on the list. Omega-3s are necessary to help maintain skin thickness, suppleness, and moisture. In fact, an omega-3 fatty acid deficiency can cause dry skin. Omega 3s fats can also reduce inflammation, and may offer some protection from the sun, one of the skin’s main enemies.
Avocados are also high in healthy fats that can treat the skin to more suppleness, springiness and flexibility. The butter fruit is also a great source of Vitamins C, essential for collagen production and Vitamin E, an important antioxidant needed to repair oxidative damage of the skin from the sun and other free radicals.
Yet another good source of essential fatty acids, which are fats that your body cannot make itself. Richer in Omega 3s than most nuts (though it doesn’t hold a candle to Super Sacha Inchi), walnuts are also a sound source of zinc which benefits and protects the skin from inflammation and bacteria.
4. Sunflower seeds
In general, nuts and seeds are good sources of skin-boosting nutrients.
Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of Vitamin E, the important antioxidant discussed above.
5. Sweet potatoes
Beta carotene is a nutrient found in plants (sweet potatoes, oranges, carrots) that is a precursor to Vitamin A. Carotenoids like beta carotene help keep your skin healthy by acting as a natural sunblock.
When consumed, this antioxidant is incorporated into your skin and helps protect your skin cells from sun exposure and hence prevent sunburn, cell death, and dry, wrinkled skin.
6. Red or yellow bell peppers
Like sweet potatoes, bell peppers are an excellent source of beta carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A. They’re also one of the best sources of vitamin C. This vitamin is necessary for creating the protein collagen, which keeps skin firm and strong.
A large observational study involving women linked eating plenty of vitamin C to a reduced risk of wrinkled and dry skin of aging.
Is full of many vitamins and minerals important for skin health, including zinc, vitamin A, and vitamin C. It also contains a carotenoid that helps protect your skin from oxidative damage, which can cause your skin to become dry and wrinkled. But broccoli florets also pack a special exciting compound called sulforaphane, which boasts some impressive properties. It may even have anti-cancer effects, including on some types of skin cancer. Sulforaphane is a powerful protective agent against sun damage. It works in two ways: neutralizing harmful free radicals and switching on other protective systems in your body. In laboratory tests, sulforaphane reduced the number of skin cells UV light killed by as much as 29%, with protection lasting up to 48 hours. Evidence suggests sulforaphane may also help maintain collagen levels in your skin.
Tomatoes are a great source of vitamin C and contain all of the major carotenoids, including lycopene.
Beta carotene, lutein, and lycopene have been shown to protect your skin against damage from the sun. They may also help prevent wrinkling.
Consider pairing carotenoid-rich foods like tomatoes with a source of fat, such as cheese or olive oil. Fat increases your absorption of carotenoids
Soy contains isoflavones, a category of plant compounds that can either mimic or block estrogen in your body. One small study involving middle-aged women found that eating soy isoflavones every day for 8–12 weeks reduced fine wrinkles and improved skin elasticity. In postmenopausal women, soy may also improve skin dryness and increase collagen, which helps keep your skin smooth and strong
10. Dark chocolate
The effects of cocoa on your skin are exciting. After 6–12 weeks of consuming a cocoa powder high in antioxidants each day, participants in one study experienced thicker, more hydrated skin. Their skin was also less rough and scaly, less sensitive to sunburn, and had better blood flow, bringing more nutrients to your skin. Another study found that eating 20 grams of high-antioxidant dark chocolate per day could allow your skin to withstand over twice as much UV radiation before burning, compared with eating low-antioxidant chocolate. Make sure to choose dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa to maximize the benefits.
11. Green tea
Green tea may help protect your skin from damage and aging.
The powerful compounds found in green tea are called catechins and work to improve the health of your skin in several ways. Green tea also improves the moisture, roughness, thickness, and elasticity of skin.
While green tea is a great choice for healthy skin, you may want to avoid drinking your tea with milk, as there’s evidence that milk could reduce the effect of green tea antioxidants.
12. Red grapes
Red grapes are famous for containing resveratrol, a compound that comes from the skin of red grapes. Resveratrol is credited with a wide range of health benefits, among them is reducing the effects of aging.
To Healthline impressive list, add the Mayo clinics recommendation of the best foods for healthy skin, which in addition to many of the above skin-friendly foods, also include:
Carrots, apricots, and other yellow and orange fruits and vegetables,
Spinach and other green leafy vegetables,
Beans, peas and lentils.
It's important to note that our external applications of our serums, creams and lotions, tend to be more effective when combined with a skin friendly diet. Hence, to maximize the beauty of our most visible organ, take care of your skin from the outside… and in.