Healthy skin happens when we eat good foods, have enough exercise, minimize stress and protect our skin from the harsh environment.Certain foods are especially beneficial to the skin.
Garlic is one such food. It contains sulphur compounds (which give it its rather strong odor) which are beneficial to your skin. It also acts as a natural antibiotic and cleanses the whole system. If you like garlic, eat it as much as you can. If the smell worries you, chew a piece of parsley afterwards and this will neutralize it. Odorless garlic tablets are available if this is all too hard.
Vitamin C is probably the most important skin vitamin in my opinion. Not least because the human body can neither make it or store it. This vitamin helps collagen formation which keeps the skin looking young and plump. This could be why smoker’s skin can look older than a non smoker’s. Smoking also uses up the oxygen in the blood. Give it up if humanly possible or at least cut it down.
Vitamin C is best consumed together with bioflavonoids, the way it is normally found in nature. The two have a synergistic effect. They can be found in Citrus fruit, berries such as strawberries and blueberries and vegetables such as broccoli.
Broccoli also contain vitamin A, an important vitamin for skin as it helps it fight infection from the inside out. Great for those with acne! Have some every other day if you can.
Carrots are a great source of carotenoids such as “beta-carotene” which your body converts to vitamin A . Beta-carotene is absorbed into the skin and can also protect it from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Carrots also contain “alpha carotene” which protects against free radical damage. Carrots are a great way to get your vitamin A as excess carotenoids are expelled by the body. Too much vitamin A is toxic to the body.
Dark leafy green vegetables, particularly kale and spinach are a good source of zinc and iron. Iron will make sure your skin gets enough oxygen and zinc is a great pimple fighter. Eat some every day if you possible can or include some in a fresh juice.
Parsley deserves a separate mention as it is rich in just about all the skin boosting nutrients. It contains beta carotene, chlorophyll, vitamin B12, folic acid (great for firm skin), vitamin C and iron. Parsley can be added to juices, casseroles, sprinkled over any savory dish or simply chewed by itself. Its great for fresh breath too. Parsley is easy to grow, pop some in a pot and keep it near the kitchen door.
Olive oil is fabulous for dry skin and wrinkles. Use it for cooking – it contains monounsaturated fats and anti oxidants- or slather it on your skin after a bath.
Flaxseeds and flax oil (also known as linseed) contain the essential omega 3 oils not found in many foods. (Fish also contains omega 3). Flaxseeds contain fiber and phytoestrogens which balance the body’s hormones and are vital for younger looking skin. Sprinkle some on your cereal or use in soups and stews.
Avocados give skin (especially dry skin) a boost. Although fairly high in fat, its the healthy monounsaturated kind which makes dry skin supple. Avocados contain glutathione which is one of the most powerful antioxidants around and will prevent cell damage in all skin types. They are also high in potassium.
Drink as much water as you can, this flushes out toxins and helps to hydrate the skin. If you can’t drink eight glasses a day – I can’t unless its 40 degrees – then just drink as much as you can without being uncomfortable.
Skin needs sufficient protein to replace and repair itself. Most of us have plenty of protein in our diets but a lot of it comes with a lot of fat attached. If you can substitute low fat items e.g. milk, peanut butter, cheese etc, then do so. You’ll still be eating the same amount. Lean meat is fine, fish is even better as it contains natural omega 3 oils which are great for your skin and your health.
Try and add as many fruits and vegetables as possible to your diet. If you ‘re a committed junk food “junkie” this may seem impossible, but if you tackle it in small bites (pun intended!) It will be easy. Commit yourself to healthy foods on certain days of the week or drink water instead of soda in the afternoons. When this becomes comfortable, expand it to every day. Its just breaking old habits and replacing them with new ones. After a while you’ll be comfortable with it. And you’ll feel better and loose weight
The purists tell us that all vitamins and minerals can be obtained from foods and there is no need for us to take supplements. In theory this is true, however the stress of life today probably robs our system of vitamin B. Smoking uses up about 35 mg of vitamin C per day.
Added to this, the practice of storing fresh produce for extended amounts of time, can’t help but deplete the natural vitamins in these foods. The pollution in our cities and some of our bad habits like eating junk and smoking (who me?) leads to the production of free radicals in the body. For this we need an antioxidant which contains among others beta carotene (a precursor of vitamin A),
vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, lycopene (found in tomatoes) and zinc.
Healthy skin loves exercise! It doesn’t matter what kind. Walking, jogging, all types of sport, aerobics, thumping around in the gym, whatever you enjoy try and fit it in three times a week. If you don’t enjoy any exercise, find one! Join a group of people or find a walking buddy, you will get to enjoy it I promise!
Stress is bad for you and bad for your skin. Stress will slow the circulation of blood to the skin causing a shortage of oxygen to the cells. It will also deplete certain nutrients from the body – for example vitamin B. It can ruin your sleep thus preventing the repair and regeneration of skin cells. It will put worry lines on your face and will make you look old before your time! Who needs it? No-one!
As you may have gathered from all this, having a healthy skin is the same as having a healthy body, it’s worth maintaining a good diet and lifestyle so you not only look great but you feel great too!