“You are what you eat. So don’t be fast, cheap, easy or fake.” —Unknown
The skin is the largest organ in the human body, and acts as a barrier to protect your other organs from toxins and the environment. Your skin is the best indicator that you are what you eat! Beauty and youthfulness truly come from inner health, and what you eat and drink everyday impacts the health of your skin. If you consistently eat foods high in sugar, sodium, saturated fat and toxins, you can’t expect your skin to stay healthy and beautiful.
Since your skin is directly connected to your bloodstream, it is often the first place that a nutrient deficiency can be seen. Specifically, certain B vitamin deficiencies can affect the texture and pigmentation of the skin causing scaly, dry, irritated skin. Nourishing foods and proper hydration help your body stay healthy from the inside out.
As we age, skin becomes thinner and drier. This in turn can make the skin more susceptible to damage, wrinkles and lines. Certain environmental factors such as smoking and sun exposure can accelerate the development of wrinkles. However, antioxidants can help slow or prevent skin damage caused by unstable molecules called free radicals. Vitamins that act as antioxidants include vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E and the mineral selenium. Antioxidant-rich foods include blueberries, strawberries, carrots, tomatoes, kale, spinach and green tea. Try to choose a wide variety of colorful vegetables for plentiful antioxidant benefits. Research shows that fruit and vegetables consumption may represent the most healthy and safe method to attain youthful appearing skin.
In addition to antioxidants, healthy fats can play a role in skin health. Specifically, omega-3 fatty acids can help keep our skin thick, moisturized and strong. A deficiency in omega-3 fats can often times manifest as dry skin. Try incorporating more fatty fish such as salmon or tuna into your diet. Fatty fish are also a source of vitamin E, which is an important antioxidant for the skin and can protect against damage from free radicals and inflammation. Walnuts are a vegan source of omega-3 fatty acids, as well as zinc, vitamin E and vitamin C.
Although good nutrition plays an important role in skin health, drinking enough water is equally crucial. Cells are made up of water; without water, our organs would not function properly or optimally. If your body is not being adequate hydrated, it will lead to dry, tight and flaky skin. Water is vital to keeping your skin moist and also helping take in nutrients, while getting rid of toxins. Don’t forget that your body is constantly losing water through breathing, urine and sweat! Aim for at least 8 glasses of water daily to help rid the body of skin and toxins.
Stefani Pappas, MS, RDN, CDN, CPT, is a Clinical Dietitian Nutritionist at St. Francis Hospital. She also provides private and group nutrition counseling at her office in Great Neck. Visit her website www.StefHealthTips.com for more information.