Skin Health And The Best Foods For Keeping It Healthy

A woman with beautiful skin. A good example of skin health.
Photo by Pana Kutlumpasis, c/o Pixabay.

Beautiful skin may be something we are born with but keeping it supple and as perfect as possible is no easy matter.

Skin as many physiologists will tell you is the largest organ in the body. It is our protective shield against heat, light, injury and infection. Skin is need for temperature regulation, for keeping water in or allowing us to use it to cool ourselves down, for maintaining a reservoir of lipid.

as we age, the nature of skin changes. There are changes in texture, thickness, the overall structure, level of hydration, its colour and how well it shields us from all sorts of damaging issues. we judge the nutritional status of the skin as a measure of the health of the body (Boelsma et al., 2003).

One of the greatest bugbears of the cosmetic age is dealing with dry, itchy skin, especially as the Winter weather takes hold an starts attacking the skin’s natural lipids. It is possible however to tackle the problem on a number of fronts. It is perfectly feasible to keep skin lipids and moisture locked in so that it keeps its moisture levels high enough to generate the plumpness and softness we associate with good skin health.

Firstly – diet For Good Skin Health !

A well balanced diet  including plenty of water with enough vitamin C, along with the other vitamins (B, E, K etc.) of course, collagen and fibre are all nutrients which impact skin health on a daily basis.  The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil if not fish itself, and borage are also good, as are chilli and peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, kale an indeed any dark green vegetable (We will take a closer at look at these in a moment).

Too much salt is an issue as is a lot of ready meals because of the high carbohydrate levels but this is more a concern of energy balance and the impact it has on loss of humidity in the skin.

Secondly, humidity !

Air moisture is important for a skin which readily absorbs it far from the atmosphere. If we sunbathe too much or are walking in dry atmospheres like the desert, we soon strip out water which gives it a leather, parched look. Even a bath causes water to leach out of the skin – how else would you explain the wrinkling of our fingers if we leave them in water too long. It is thought that lukewarm water is best for us when regular washing is required.

Skin needs a humidity level of 30%w/w to remain properly hydrated. It is felt that a dehumidifier may work for and against skin as does air-conditioning but it isn’t that clear a situation.

The way to deal with this loss is replace it or lock it in which is why moisturising after a bath or shower, or after sunbathing is so important. Certainly, after engineering operations, we would often add a lotion and rub into our hands. Soaps shouldn’t be too drying either !

The third factor is to exfoliate !

Apparently, removing dead skin cells helps to retain moisture. What happens is that removing the dry, dead layers of skin from the surface helps expose the newer, moister skin cells without necessarily them losing their moisture. A gentle salt rub (note the word gentle not scour) is one way to remove dead skin cells.

Finally, drink plenty of water daily – Essential for good skin health.

It means that hydration will ultimately allow the skin to pick up moisture from within. Ignore the idea that just water is good enough as tea, juices and other beverages actually help replenish skin moisture too but not in excess ! It is thought that about 250 ml to 500 ml   or about 8 ounces to a pound of water in old money taken over a few hours is advisable. Drinking loads of alcohol isn’t a recommendation although it is still one way of drinking potable water.

If you are interested in moisturisers than there are a few in the marketplace which might be beneficial. The Revitol™ brand contains a full range of natural skin care products which can be used to treat a number of skin conditions.

So, what should we be consuming.

Consume Fatty Fish

Consuming fatty fish such as herring, mackerel, salmon are great foods for health generally and said to be ideal for keeping skin healthy.

Fatty fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and these are nutrients that are required for maintaining skin cell health generally. A lack of omega-3 fatty acids usually leads to dry skin. It seems these fatty acids help keep skin supple and thick enough to form a barrier. There is some evidence that fish oils too can reduce inflammation including autoimmune conditions like psoriasis and lupus. Omega-3 fatty acids could also reduce redness and even the incidence of acne which is associated with poor skin health. The skin is also less sensitive to UV rays coming from the Sun.

Fatty fish is a good source of vitamin E which is a powerful antioxidant and can protect skin cells from the damaging effects of free radicals as well as inflammation.

Fatty fish are also good sources of protein and that will undoubtedly be needed for maintaining the integrity and strength of both skin and other connecting tissues.

Finally, zinc is a mineral in fish that is also important in maintaining immunity, reducing inflammation and producing new skin cells as well as maintaining their overall health. we know that a zinc deficiency produces skin inflammation, skin lesions and even delays or reduces skin healing in the process.

Consume Walnuts

Walnuts have long been noted for health benefits and so they are noted for their effects on skin health. Again, a good source of essential fatty acids which are ones we simply cannot make ourselves. These nuts in particular are rich in the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids – more so than other nuts we know of.

If the diet is too high in omega-6 fatty acids, then there is a risk of promoting inflammation including skin conditions such as psoriasis. However given that the omega-6 fatty acids are prevalent in the diet, we know that omega-3 fatty acids are not so common. Walnuts have a good ratio of these fatty acids so the balance may be that they ameliorate the inflammatory response from excess consumption of omega-6 fatty acids.

Walnuts are also good sources of various minerals like zinc, selenium, vitamin E and other antioxidants which are all required by the skin. The zinc content in an ounce of walnuts is equivalent to 8% of our recommended of our recommended dietary requirements. There is also between 4 and 5 grams of protein per ounce (28 grams).

Consume Pecans

A slightly sweeter and less woody nut than walnut and a good source of ellagic acid. This has been associated with protecting skin cells from UV damage. pecans also have a good range of antioxidants, various minerals, plenty of vitamin A and E, calcium, potassium and zinc.

Dark Chocolate

Has to be there ! Cocoa polyphenols have strong antioxidant properties and so like walnuts will soak up free radicals which are damaging.

One study showed that if you consumed cocoa powder for between 6 and 12 weeks, the subjects had a better skin tone with it being thicker and more hydrated. The skin was also less scaly and rough and there seemed to be a better resilience to sunburn. The blood flow to the skin was also better which suggested that more nutrients could be brought to the skin as well it being able to regulate body temperature more effectively (Heinrich et al., 2006).

Sunflower Seeds

we know nits are good for you bust so are seeds. Sunflower seeds are a great example of that nutritional food with many benefits.

A 28 gram or 1 ounce portion will give you 49% of your RDV for vitamin E, 41% of selenium, 14% zinc along with 5.5 grams of protein (USDA FoodData base). Always a good food source irrespective of skin health.

Watermelon

A good source of water. They say 2 cubes of watermelon contain a cup of water which as we pointed out earlier is essential for keeping skin hydrated. It is also a good source of vitamin C and beta-carotene.

Kiwi

A strong source of vitamin C. This vitamin is essential for the production of collagen which is an extremely important connective tissue protein. Collagen breaks down with aging and leads to wrinkle formation. A vitamin C containing kiwi fruit provides at least 141% of our daily value so the benefits are extremely high where skin collagen is concerned.

Bell Peppers

Another good source of vitamin C – chilli is also included in this too. As with kiwi, it helps boost collagen production or at least keeps up a regular supply of the vitamin so that it remains firm and youthful. We also know vitamin C is essential for maintaining a the immune system in good shape. use sliced peppers in salads and sandwiches. The high carotene content too is highly beneficial.

Oats

A good source of selenium which is important for immunity and reducing inflammation. Prebiotics which are found in oats like beta-glucan also have heart health and cholesterol-lowering benefits especially. Again, the overall impact is to improve the immune system overall and help skin health.

Eggs – Really ?

Eggs are a good source of lutein which helps keep skin hydrated and firm. It is also an important antioxidant too because it protects fatty acids, skin lipids and oils from breaking down. They say that yous should start the day with an egg or an omelette because it is also a good source of protein.

In Summary

Consider these skin-friendly foods:

  • Carrots, apricots, and other yellow and orange fruits and vegetables
  • Spinach and other green leafy vegetables
  • Tomatoes
  • Berries
  • Beans, peas and lentils
  • Salmon, mackerel and other fatty fish
  • Nuts

References

Boelsma, E., Van de Vijver, L. P., Goldbohm, R. A., Klöpping-Ketelaars, I. A., Hendriks, H. F., & Roza, L. (2003). Human skin condition and its associations with nutrient concentrations in serum and diet. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition77(2), pp. 348-355 (Article).

Heinrich, U., Neukam, K., Tronnier, H., Sies, H., & Stahl, W. (2006). Long-term ingestion of high flavanol cocoa provides photoprotection against UV-induced erythema and improves skin condition in women. The Journal of Nutrition136(6), pp. 1565-1569 (Article)

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