Practical ways to improve your skin with diet
You are what you eat is a cliche these days but if you're wanting to improve your skin it's worth considering what you're feeding your body. I heard a quote recently from Doctor David Perlmutter which presents this fact profoundly:
"When it comes to food it's easy to write off our choices as unimportant, but the food we choose to eat is one of the most significant decisions we make. Food is far more than fuel, it is information. Food directly communicates with our bodies, our brains and even our DNA. It clearly determines whether we lead lives of vibrant health or suffer from chronic diseases."
The skin is our largest organ so whether we are healthy or otherwise, it will usually show up in our complexion. So let's look at some practical ways to improve our skin health:
1. Stay hydrated
This is one of the biggest issues we all face. Remembering to drink enough water. It's not the most exciting of beverages so dress it up! Add some fruit slices, a squeeze of lemon or lime, or drink herbal teas. Given you're currently on my website, you likely already know how I feel about herbal teas! They're healing properties are amazing and absolutely contribute to giving you healthier skin. If you're looking for a specific skin tea check out Skin Glow tea here.
2. Smoothies with collagen & berries
Since the introduction of 'convenient' and fast foods into our diet over the past 50 years there has been a decline in nose to tail eating - that is eating the whole animal - the organs, fats and even cooking the bones for broth. This is where you will find the most nutrition including collagen. What's collagen you ask?
"Collagen forms a scaffold that provides strength and structure within the body. It is an essential component of connective tissue and plays a crucial role in holding the body’s cells together. It also gives strength and elasticity to the skin" (1).
You can make your own bone broth (here's a link to my post and recipe for bone broth) which is a very healing and gentle way of delivering collagen and other essential nutrients to your body. You can also get in it powder form and add it to your smoothies or other meals.
I find smoothies to be the easiest and most delicious way to receive a nutrient hit and keep my skin nourished. You can add your collagen powder, berries (which contain high amounts of antioxidants), and a host of other ingredients to sustain you throughout your day. I'll attach my recipe for you below.
3. Healthy fats
Healthy fats include both saturated and unsaturated fats and benefit us in the following ways:
1. Fat is a major fuel source for your body (meaning it provides a lot of calories) and also the main way you store energy.
2. Fats are needed to help you absorb certain nutrients, such as fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E and K) and antioxidants (like lycopene and beta-carotene).
3. Fat is important in giving your cells structure.
4. Omega-3 fats, a type of unsaturated fat, are important for optimum nerve, brain and heart function.
Some incredibly healthy, high-fat foods to incorporate into your diet include:
- whole eggs
- fatty fish like salmon, trout, mackerel, sardines, and herring
- chia seeds
- dark chocolate (the stronger variety that contains little sugar)
- coconut oil and ghee (are my favourites to cook with)
- olive oil and apricot kernel oil for salads and dressings
- full fat yoghurt (no added sugar)
Note that we only need small portions of these foods to receive their benefits. They are usually less processed and lower in sugar and carbs than their 'reduced fat' or 'fat-free' counterparts and will have us feeling satiated for longer.
4. Eat the rainbow
Nature is perfect and provides everything we need for optimal health. By eating a variety of unprocessed fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains you're giving your body and skin a boost of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that support optimal health. Let's take a quick look at what each colour of the food rainbow can offer us nutritionally:
Yellow/Orange = Carotenoids
Orange and yellow foods are rich in Vitamin C and carotenoids, including beta carotene, which converts to vitamin A in the body. Along with supporting healthy skin and eyes, yellow foods fight the damaging effects of the sun and environmental irritants. They protect against heart disease and cancer, promote healthy joints/tissues, lower cholesterol, and boost immunity.
Red = Phytochemicals
Fruits and vegetables in the red family are known cancer fighters, but they also improve skin quality and cell renewal. High in lycopene, anthocyanins, and ellagic acid, these foods lower blood pressure, support a healthy heart and reduce the risk of diabetes.
Green = Antioxidants
There’s a reason why green smoothies are so popular. A powerful antioxidant, chlorophyll makes plants green. Eating green promotes detoxification, reduces inflammation, and improves digestion. Green fruits and vegetables are rich in lutein, folate, isothiocyanates, isoflavones, and vitamin K. Along with boosting energy and vitality, these foods support good eyesight, mood, insomnia, and overall immunity.
Blue/purple = Resveratrol
If you don’t eat blue and purple foods, it’s time to start. They offer an array of health benefits for the brain, heart, and skin. They are high in phytonutrients, including anthocyanins, polyphenols, and resveratrol. Research supports their anti-cancer, anti-aging properties. Resveratrol slows signs of aging and other skin problems. Bonus: The darker the food, the higher the antioxidant level.
High in flavonoids, these foods fight free radicals, protect against cellular damage and keep you looking younger. Blue and purple foods also promote brain health, lower blood pressure, and support eye and urinary health. In the way of chronic skin conditions, these foods can reduce the inflammatory response in the body and promote detoxification.
White = Overall health
White foods sometimes get a bad rap for being high in starch and carbohydrates, but they have a range of health benefits. Onions and garlic contain antioxidant compounds called polyphenols, which can help control chronic inflammation and boost immunity.
They’re also rich in cancer-fighting compounds such as sulforaphane, allicin, quercetin, and phytonutrients. Other nutrients include potassium, fiber, beta-glucans, lignans, and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). These foods are good for heart health, digestive tract health, and overall immunity. (3).
Here are some snack ideas to inspire you:
Rainbow breakfast bowl: a mix of fruit, yoghurt, nut granola and chia seeds
Sourdough with avocado: hard boiled egg, rocket, sunflower seeds and chia seeds. Drizzle with olive oil and crumbled fetta (or tofu). Add fermented veggies for extra nutrition and gut health.
Rainbow Veggie Stacks: sweet potato (purple or orange), orange carrots, red capsicum, yellow squash, green zucchini, purple cauliflower - roast or bbq the veggies, then stack them and drizzle with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, fetta crumbled (or tofu).
Salad tip: Try adding Apricot Kernel Oil to your salads - it's natural rich in vitamin E, which your skin will love.
Choc Peppermint Coins These are my fave dessert. They're super simple and quick to make and will keep for months in your freezer. You can always have them on hand for when you need them (which is often in my house!)
The information above is just a guide and not to be taken as personal advice. If you have any health concerns, always seek the advice of a general practitioner.