Vitamin A is a vital nutrient for maintaining vibrant skin. It helps the body produce collagen, an important protein that’s partly responsible for skin’s youthful elasticity. It also helps protect against collagen deterioration. It is also an essential vitamin required for vision, gene transcription and boosting immune function. Carrots, sweet potatoes, dark leafy greens, squash, apricots, melon, red peppers and mango are all foods high in vitamin A.
Fish is an excellent source of lean protein. Cold water fish species like tuna, swordfish, or salmon are superb sources of natural omega-3 fatty acids. Fatty acids in a diet can help fight the damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation on sun-exposed skin. As a bonus, wild salmon contains a potent antioxidant pigment called astaxanthin, which may fight wrinkles and sagging (1).
The body needs healthy oils for healthy skin. The fats serve as the building blocks for the sebaceous glands (the oil producing glands in the skin). These natural secretions reduce dryness and form a protective barrier, our first line of defense against the outside world. Polyunsaturated omega-6 oils are especially important. Unfortunately, most Americans consume poor quality refined omega-6 oils from corn and soy. These oils are frequently rancid from extended storage and may have residues from chemical solvents. The optimal way to consume your omega-6 fatty acids is from whole foods. Raw nuts and seeds are one of the richest sources of omega-6 oils. They are also a natural source of vitamin E which is extremely beneficial for the skin. In addition, nuts are packed with fiber and healthy phyto-chemicals like plant sterols which aid in detox and improve digestion.
Unlike refined flour or polished white rice, whole grains offer far more than simple carbohydrates. The fiber in whole grains is great for the digestive tract, but whole grains are also an excellent source of skin-friendly B vitamins like folate, niacin, and micronutrients like zinc and magnesium. Zinc is especially important for skin’s immune defenses.
Turmeric is the source of potent chemicals collectively known as curcumin. Curcumin reduces inflammation and works as an antioxidant to reduce skin damage. Ongoing research shows that curcumin helps helps fight melanoma when applied topically. It also might work to thwart the progression of an increasingly common skin cancer, squamous cell carcinoma (2).
Foods High in Vitamin C
Collagen is the main protein that forms the foundation of our skin. Age, sun damage and poor circulation can weaken collagen and lead to sagging skin, wrinkles and poor wound healing. Vitamins C is a vital cofactor in the synthesis of collagen and it is well known that vitamin C deficiency leads to skin weakness and damage. It has been shown that dietary consumption of vitamin C will raise the concentration of vitamin C in the skin. Most people associate vitamin C with citrus fruits like lemons and oranges. But ounce for ounce, kiwi is an even more potent source of this crucial antioxidant. Papaya, guava, strawberries, lime, oranges, kiwi, broccoli and peppers are also high in vitamin C. Vitamin C is essential for maintaining connective tissue. Kiwi, are all excellent sources of collagen-sparing vitamin C. Prolonged cooking can destroy vitamin C, so fruits and veggies need to be raw or lightly cooked to be a good source.
Olives and Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive oil is a nutritional superstar. Praised for its heart-healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats, it also contains unique antioxidant phytochemicals, or chemicals found naturally in plants that may improve your health.
While scientists are still investigating the numerous benefits of olives and extra virgin olive oil, residents of the Mediterranean region have been enjoying the benefits of this skin-friendly oil for centuries. Enjoy it in food or apply directly to the skin for the treatment of atopic dermatitis.
Coffee and Tea
Although there may be many reasons to avoid caffeine, healthy skin is not one of them. Studies show that people who regularly drink coffee and green tea have lower rates of skin cancer. Green tea also protects against the premature aging caused by sun exposure. Green tea has a high concentration of catechins, which have strong anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-aging effects on skin. Both coffee and tea are packed with antioxidants. The actual caffeine and theine may also be beneficial, ast it may increase circulation. Don’t worry if caffeinated beverages are not for you. You can use the caffeine and tannins present in these beverages topically to constrict blood vessels, tightens skin and reduces puffiness. Make sure you get your coffee and tea from an organic source, as the inorganic kinds are often high in toxins.
Cinnamon adds a kick to cookies and hot drinks, but it’s also packed with antioxidants – substances that fight skin damage. Cinnamon has more antioxidant value than half a cup of blueberries (3). For an easy antioxidant boost, sprinkle half a teaspoon of cinnamon on your coffee grounds before brewing.
Hot peppers like chili, paprika, cayenne, and jalapeño do more than put your taste buds on alert – they also defend your skin. Vitamins A and C in peppers help combat free radicals, preventing the breakdown of collagen to maintain the integrity of our skin. The colorful peppers also contain capsaicin, which acts like a sunscreen to shield skin from damage caused by UV rays.
Remember, the skin is a bridge between the internal body and the external environment. What gets applied the skin affects its health, as well as the health of the body. The opposite is also true. What you eat affects the health of the body, and the vitality of the skin. For more information or to find organic products improving skin health, checkout EarthSun.
I apologize for not giving proper author credit. I believe this article was written by Keri Glassman but not certain.
• American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2013 Mar;97(3):646-52.
• Clinical Cancer Research. Curcumin Suppresses Growth of Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma. October 1, 2005 11; 6994.
• Keri Glassman, author of The O2 Diet.
• Marti Wolfson, culinary director at Blum Center for Health in Rye Brook, N.Y.