These days, everyone wants to look as great on the outside as they feel on the inside. What you eat affects every organ in your body, and your skin being the largest organ in the human body, is no exception. Foods, supplements, and nutrient-infused topical products have become the new initiative of the cosmeceutical companies, attracting those looking for natural ways to improve their youthful radiance and overall skin health.
Natural Beauty Practices and Modern Science
As we think about natural beauty remedies, we are reminded of the many ancient cultures that used foods and plants for health and beauty purposes. For example, Cleopatra was famous for her camel’s milk and honey baths and holistic health practices which originated in India practiced the use of botanicals, oils, and massage. Combining ancient traditions with modern science to promote beauty from within is today’s philosophy for cosmeceutical companies.
The Role of Nutrition and Beauty
For decades we have known how important nutrition is for maintaining healthy skin, but little research has been done about the effects of diet on skin’s aging appearance. Some studies have linked dietary patterns with less wrinkling, discovering that higher intakes of vitamin C and linoleic acid and lower intakes of fat and carbohydrate were associated with better skin-aging appearance. Other scientific studies have suggested that a higher intake of vegetables, olive oil, monounsaturated fat and legumes and a lower intake of milk/dairy products, butter, margarine and sugar products may reduce wrinkling in skin.
As more research emerges, it is becoming increasingly clear that our food choices are empowering and we can increase our vitality and improve health from inside out through sound nutrition. Nutrients in foods that benefit skin also tend to benefit other body systems and overall health. An anti-aging diet rich in variety of antioxidant-rich, nutrient-dense foods such as; fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, cold water fishes, lean protein, legumes, traditional soy foods, nuts, and seeds is the easiest and most gratifying way to protect your skin from the inside out.
To Look Good and Feel Good, Follow this Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Recommendations from Eating Free:
• Consume a diet high in fruits and vegetables: Fruits and vegetables can provide a wide variety of antioxidants and fiber. Especially blueberries and strawberries, which are packed with anti-inflammatory phytochemicals and antioxidants.
• Choose whole grain, high-fiber foods: Whole grains are an excellent source of fiber, which has been proven to reduce inflammation. Adequate intake of fiber can be achieved by eating foods such as whole wheat, flax seed, rye, brown rice, quinoa, and beans.
• Reduce saturated fat: Saturated fat increases inflammation which is why it is important to limit the amount of saturated fat you consume by choosing very lean meats, such as chicken breasts, turkey breast, fish and lean cuts of beef, as well as fat-free or low-fat dairy products.
• Eat more Omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3 fatty essential fatty acids are very powerful anti-inflammatory agents. Consuming about 3 o 4 oz of fish, such as salmon or trout, twice per week will help you attain all the Omega -3 you need. Omega-3 is also found in flax seeds, walnuts and soy beans.
• Consume antioxidant rich foods: Because there are many different types of antioxidants that can protect your tissues from different types of damage, it is best to eat a wide range of antioxidant rich foods. Consume spices such as oregano, cinnamon, turmeric, and ginger, as well as whole soy products, green tea, dark chocolate (70% cocoa), and red wine.
• Eliminate highly processed foods: Avoid processed foods containing high fructose corn syrup and trans-fatty acids.
A Friendly Guide to Eating your way to Beautiful Skin!Nutrient
: Vitamin ARole in Skin Health
: Promotes proper repair and maintenance of the skin, and deficiencies can result in a dry, flaky complexion.Food Source
: Liver, egg yolks, dairy products, spinach, broccoli, asparagus, carrots, sweet potato, pumpkin, parsley, apricots, peaches, mango, apricots and papayas.Nutrient
: Biotin (B Vitamin)Role in Skin Health
: Forms the basis for skin, nail, and hair cells.Food Source
: Bananas, eggs, oatmeal, and rice.Nutrient
: Vitamin CRole in Skin Health
: Protects skin from sun damage, smoking, and pollution with its antioxidant properties. Also plays a role in collagen synthesis.Food Source
: Citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit), strawberries, broccoli, tomatoes, parsley, bell peppers, Brussels sprouts, and leafy green vegetables.Nutrient
: Vitamin ERole in Skin Health
: Protects skin from the damaging effects of free radical activity in the body which can cause damage to cells.Food Source
: Vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, olives, spinach, and asparagus, egg yolks, and soybeans.Nutrient
: SeleniumRole in Skin Health
: Protects skin against sun damage by helping to minimize the damage caused by free radicals.Food Source
: Whole grains, garlic, eggs, and liver, wheat germ, seafood such as tuna and salmon, garlic, nuts, eggs, and brown rice.Nutrient
: ZincRole in Skin Health
: Can clear skin by controlling oil production. Zinc is also important in cell growth.Food Source
: Oysters, lean meats, pumpkin seeds, ginger, pecans, nuts, oats, and eggs.
Be Aware of Propaganda
Because more scientific research needs to be done to relating nutrition and beauty products, it is important to be aware that many anti-aging products make claims that are not validated. If a product makes any claim, refer these claims and any questions you many have to your doctor, dietitian, or physician.
Today’s Dietitian. Beauty from Within: Natural Approaches to Nourishing Skin. March 2008 Edition. Vol. 10 No. 3 P. 50.
By Shannon Weston, BS, Dietetic Intern