Taking care of our skin, the largest organ in the body, is paramount to many of us. Having great skin is linked to health and vitality, and a bad skin day can reduce in lower confidence and self esteem.
What we eat has a big impact on the health of our skin. As food is digested, it is broken down into polyphenols, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and amino acids that are then used to build healthy skin. If you eat highly processed foods, low nutrients foods, or deprive yourself of good nutrition, your skin won’t be as healthy as it could be.
Which foods provide the best bang for your buck in helping you have healthy skin?
- Avocado: A great source of healthy fats, which help to improve health of skin cells. It’s also rich in vitamins C and E. Vitamin E helps to protect skin cells from UV light and other environmental factors that generate free radicals, which are damaging to the skin. Include ¼-1/2 avocado per day. Spread on toast or add to your salad at lunch. Almonds are a great alternative, and also rich in healthy fats and vitamin E. Include 30g of these per day, as a snack, or chopped up in your muesli
- Kiwi Fruit: Provides more than 100% of your daily vitamin C needs in one kiwi fruit. Vitamin C helps to produce collagen. Collagen maintains skin health and reduces wrinkles. Include as part of your 2 serves of fruit each day. Other great sources of vitamin C include oranges, broccoli, capsicum and kale.
- Carrots: A great source of vitamin A, which plays a role in keeping your skin glowing, plus may also reduce the development of skin cancer cells. Include as part of your 5 serves of veggies each day. Sweet potato, dark leafy greens, apricot, rockmelon and mango are great alternatives.
- Sweet potato: A good source of low GI carbohydrate, and very rich in vitamin A; just 25g provides 70% of daily vitamin A needs. Sweet potato can be baked, roasted, steamed, boiled or stir-fried to add into main meals. A particularly skin healthy option would be to serve with salmon, broccoli and a drizzle of olive oil. Include a serve approximately the size of your fist.
- Chia Seeds: One of the richest plant sources of omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3s are important for maintaining normal skin function and appearance, and reduce inflammation. Chia seeds are also good sources of protein, zinc, riboflavin, niacin, all of which are important for skin health. Chia seeds can be sprinkled on breakfast, or made into a tasty pudding. Other good sources of omega 3s include walnuts, salmon, tuna and flaxseeds.
- Oysters: A great source of zinc (6 oysters can provide 500% of daily zinc needs!). Zinc is important in growth and function of skin cells. Include as an entrée before dinner with a squeeze of lemon and pepper, or with a salsa of lycopene rich tomatoes (also good for skin health) and basil.
- Water: Yes, you’ve heard it before; water is absolutely essential for healthy skin. Adequate consumption helps to clear the body of toxins, which can result in a clearer, smoother complexion, reduce appearance of fine lines and ward of visual signs of dehydration.
What to avoid?
Avoid drinking too much alcohol, as this is dehydrating to the entire body, and can increase inflammation.
Avoid soft drink or other sugar sweetened beverages, and other highly processed foods, as these may be linked with aging, due to the load that is placed on insulin pathways.