You’ve heard the saying: ‘You are what you eat’, right? Well, it’s all true. When it comes to glowing skin, what we put inside our bodies matters just as much as the cosmetics and beauty treatments we use on the outside. If we want that skin to glow we need to be super picky about the foods we eat. Want a beautiful, dewy complexion? You’re going to need to start in the kitchen. Here’s a really quick guide on what to eat for glowing skin. We’d love to hear your favourite recipes too, so do share in the comments.
A note on your skin…
As the largest organ in the body, your skin is exposed to a number of toxins daily. From the chemicals in the air, to UV rays and air pollution, your skin tends to take the brunt of modern day living without us really giving it much thought. Other factors can impact on our skin too. Hormones, inflammatory/ autoimmune conditions, ageing, stress, lack of sleep, hydration levels… the list goes on. So while it goes without saying that your diet will play a major role in improving the condition and appearance of the skin, your approach here should be holistic. What you eat is one part of your skin care routine; follow our tips to improve your diet, but don’t skip the other elements that ensure your skin glows the way its meant to. Drink plenty of water, protect against the sun and daily pollutants, make sleep a priority and try to reduce stress where you can. All of this will compliment the efforts you make with menu planning, and the benefits won’t just be limited to your skin either.
Now, on to the foods you need to be eating for optimum skin health…
Foods rich in omega 3s
Omega 3s are essential fatty acids that your skin cells need to maintain elasticity and to help them function well, so foods that contain them should be part of your daily routine. Omega 3s help to keep the skin moisturised, reduce dryness and increase the appearance of smoothness, giving the skin a plumpness too. Essential fatty acids are, well, essential for cell membranes and have the power to reduce inflammation levels in the body- great if you suffer from eczema, psoriasis or acne. And to top it all of, omega 3s can help to protect against sun damage too.
Eat: flaxseeds, chia seeds, brussel sprouts, vegetable oils, leafy greens, hemp seeds, walnuts and algae
Foods rich in antioxidants
As already mentioned, the levels of air pollution and other irritants that skin faces on a daily basis can have a real impact on the health of our skin- and this is where antioxidants come in. Antioxidant compounds in certain foods can help to reduce the effects of environmental damage, caused by the likes of sun exposure and pollution, by fighting against free radicals. Free radicals are the unstable molecules that work tirelessly to damage our precious skin cells, and lead to all the hallmark signs of ageing- fine lines, wrinkles and age spots. Now, all of these classic signs of ageing are indeed normal and part of the skin’s natural process as we get older, BUT their progress can be slowed down somewhat. As collagen and elastin production naturally slows down, free radicals work to increase this process, thus making us look older before our time. Now, if we can reverse this simply through diet, then I say let’s!
Several foods actually have the power to decrease the harmful affects of free radicals, and the good news is that you’re probably already eating them. For example, the theobromine found in cacao works to encourage the flow of blood to the skin’s surface, which in turn helps to promote healing from sun damage and cell renewal. Now, pass the chocolate!
Eat: dark berries such as blueberries and blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, vegetable, cacao- go for 100% chocolate if you can, or no less than 85% for true benefits.
Foods rich in protein
If you’re following a vegan or plant based diet, one of the most common questions you may already have encountered is ‘where do you get your protein?’ and there’s a reason why people are so concerned. Protein is essential for our bodies, vital for tissue repair and construction. Each and every cell in our bodies needs protein in order to maintain itself, and that includes the skin cells. Without going into it too much, the major structural proteins of hair, skin and nails (collagen, elastin and keratin) coltan different amino acids- some of which need to come from your diet. Want glowing skin? Get your protein in, and don’t believe the hype- you can get plenty through a whole food plant based diet!
Eat: whole grains, dark leafy greens, nuts and seeds (hemp seeds are a great source), broccoli, algae, legumes.
Foods rich in vsitamin C, A and E
Eat the rainbow! This is truly the best way to ensure that you get the range of vitamins and minerals you need for health glowing skin- and eating this way will benefit the rest of your body too.
Vitamin C is known to be a powerful antioxidant that protects the skin against those pesky free radicals we discussed earlier- but did you know it’s also essential for the production of collagen? We need collagen to form healthy cartilage, ligaments, tendons, bone and skin; it gives our skin elasticity and structure.
Vitamin E is also essential for collagen production and works alongside vitamin C to promote the production of collagen. It also works to protect the skin cells from UV damage and environmental pollutants too.
Vitamin A is special. It works hard to slow down the rate at which your skin cells renew, increases the deposit of collagen and slows the natural breakdown of collagen that comes with ageing. Vitamin A can also improve the appearance of dark spots and acne.
Eat: for Vitamin C- bell peppers, strawberries, kiwi fruit, oranges, broccoli, tomatoes, kale, peas. For Vitamin E- spinach, almonds, sunflower seeds, dark leafy greens, avocado, sweet potato and hazelnuts. For Vitamin A- dark leafy greens, carrots, squash, pumpkin, red pepper, apricot, tomatoes.
Also worth a mention…
It’s a good idea to also try to get in good amounts of foods containing copper, zinc and silica too. Copper helps to nourish the skin and give it a plumper, more hydrated appearance and works to activate antioxidants- plus it can be applied topically to the skin too. Zinc is needed by the body for protein and cell structure and is used to transport vitamin A through the bloodstream, encouraging wound healing, promoting cell renewal and maintaining collagen. Lastly, silica is essential for collagen and levels of it in the body declines as we age. We need silica to regenerate tissues and skin, and to slow the affects of ageing- so make sure you’re getting some!
Eat: for copper- sesame and sunflower seeds, cashew nuts, mushrooms, chickpeas, lentils. For zinc- whole grains, legumes, beans, cacao, nutritional yeast, broccoli. For silica- bananas, oats, raisins, wheat, green beans and brown rice.
Of course, it goes without saying that you need to stay hydrated too- so drink plenty of water! Now, what’s for dinner tonight?