Keeping skin beautiful through nutrition

(Nutrition – Andrea Hill)

What’s good for your skin is also good for your body.

Most of us long for healthy, beautiful skin. Are you one of these people? The two main concerns for keeping skin beautiful seem to be acne and wrinkles. Acne typically occurs during times of hormonal upheaval including adolescence, pregnancy, premenstrual weeks and even times of stress.

Wrinkles (unfortunately) are a fact of life. As we age, collagen and elastin – the substances that keep skin firm and elastic – gradually decrease. As this underlying structure thins out, skin begins to sag, creases form, and we inevitably end up with wrinkles.

Skin damage occurs over time and as a result of oxidation. This is a chemical process in which unstable molecules called free radicals steal electrons from healthy cells. On your skin this can appear as wrinkling, discoloration and decreased elasticity. The most damaging oxidative factors include cigarette smoking and sun exposure.

The best defense against free radical damage from oxidation is a diet rich in antioxidant vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin E, Selenium, Beta-carotene and Zinc. Dietary sources of these nutrients, however, seem to offer a greater advantage to keeping skin healthy than taking supplements.

As an antioxidant vitamin, vitamin C protects the skin from free radical damage. Since it is involved in collagen production, it is important to replenish your skin’s vitamin C stores by eating foods that are rich in this vitamin. Red bell pepper, oranges, broccoli and leafy greens are all excellent sources of vitamin C.

Vitamin E works well in combination with vitamin C to provide extra skin protection. It helps protect cell membranes and guards against UV damage. Wheat germ, fortified whole-grain cereals, and sunflower seeds are some dietary sources of vitamin E.

Selenium is a powerful antioxidant mineral that protects skin quality and elasticity. Brazil nuts are one of the richest food sources of selenium; canned light tuna is another.

Beta-carotene is critical to skin health. It is converted to vitamin A in the body and then involved in the growth and repair of body tissues. Kale, sweet (orange) potatoes and pumpkin are plentiful in this antioxidant.

Zinc is another powerful mineral that can protect cell membranes and help to maintain collagen; this keeps skin firm. Some of the richest food sources of zinc include oysters, lean beef and fortified whole-grain cereals.

Did we forget water? I cannot emphasize how important water is to keeping skin healthy. What else is going to help your body flush away toxins and keep organs functioning at their best? Skip those sodas and sugary drinks and choose water and fresh fruits and vegetables to keep your body (and skin) well-hydrated! Incidentally, well-hydrated cells are plump and full, which means that your skin will look firmer and clearer.

Remember, it’s important to think about building healthy skin from the inside out. Your skin will draw its healthy glow from good nutrition, so feed your body well and your skin will look great!

Top 5 foods for keeping skin healthy and beautiful:

1. Red bell pepper

2. Leafy greens

3. Brazil nuts and sunflower seeds

4. Sweet potatoes (orange colour)

5. Oysters