We all love to indulge in a beauty treatment or two, but gorgeous skin really starts from within. The skin provides an immediate reflection of inner health as it’s particularly vulnerable to the effects of lifestyle and diet.
We all know that you are what you eat and these words couldn’t be any more true when it comes to the skin. Skin cells are continuously shedding and regenerating and require the right nutrients to maintain this. A balanced diet rich in colourful fresh produce, some healthy fats, and plenty of water will certainly help skin to maintain its glow.
That said, collagen production naturally begins to slow down from the age of 30 and with those beautiful babies come the sleepless nights and the tired, puffy eyes that we swear appeared on day three of motherhood and never seem to go away. So with this in mind, consciously increasing our intake of foods that we know are beneficial to skin health can only be a good thing. Here are six skin nourishing foods to include in your diet today:
Consumption of fermented dairy drinks, such as kefir contain probiotics such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and have been shown to improve complexion. Probiotics are the good bacteria that live in the gut, helping to prevent the growth bad bacteria. A healthy microbiome is essential for optimal absorption of nutrients and elimination of toxins among other functions. When the balance of bacteria in the gut is unfavourable, it can lead to various health problems and in the case of skin: inflammation, acne and other dermatological issues. The best way to maintain healthy gut flora is through a wholefood diet with various probiotic rich foods. Other sources include sauerkraut, miso soup and pickled vegetables.
One kiwi fruit contains more than twice the daily requirements of vitamin C. Diets high in vitamin C are associated with better skin appearance and less wrinkles. This is because of its ability to reduce oxidative damage and stimulate collagen production. Some evidence even suggests that regular kiwi fruit consumption can double collagen synthesis even after it has begun to slow down. Other great sources of vitamin C includes guava, red capsicum, oranges, strawberries and broccoli. It is important to note that vitamin C is very sensitive to heat, so to preserve its skin loving effects, eat raw or cook very lightly.
Snacking on a handful of organic pumpkin seeds is an easy way to boost your daily zinc intake. This trace mineral is very important for skin health. It assists in the structure of proteins and cell membranes, is an anti-inflammatory, helps protect against UV radiation and is important for repairing tissue damage. However, zinc is difficult to obtain from food and many people do not reach their daily requirement. As well as your pumpkin seeds, you will need about two to three servings of foods such as lamb, beef, chickpeas, cashews or kefir to reach the ideal amount. If you have acne it is likely that that your zinc levels are low, speak to a nutritionist or naturopath about taking a supplement.
Sardines are rich in the omega-3 DHA. A diet rich in these essential fatty acids (EFAs) helps to protect the skin from ageing, reduce inflammation, promotes immune response and is responsible for moisture content and overall suppleness of the skin. If you have dry or inflamed skin, you may benefit from increasing your intake of omega-3 EFAs. Other sources include salmon, mackerel, walnuts, chia seeds and flaxseeds.
Tomatoes are rich in Lycopene, a phytonutrient that gives fruits and vegetables their pink or red colour. This antioxidant offers some natural protection from the sun’s ultraviolet rays by improving the skins natural SPF. It is worth noting that lycopene is best absorbed when cooked and combined with a healthy fat such as olive oil. While tomatoes are the most noted source, lycopene is also abundant in guava, watermelon, and asparagus.
Gelatin is essentially pure collagen – the most abundant protein in the body which gives the skin its strength and elasticity. While research in this area is still growing, some suggest that dietary collagen may improve the hydration of the skin and slow the formation of deep wrinkles. What we do know for sure, is that collagen is also found in the gut and has a role in healing and repairing its lining, therefore leading to better absorption of nutrients that contribute to your complexion.
Jessica is an Australian Clinical Nutritionist & Herbalist with a passion for nourishing mothers and children. Her latest e-guide, The Nourished Toddler, is available now via her website. You can find more of her wisdom on her Instagram account @sageandfolk .