Like much of our body, so many of us take our largest organ for granted - for us women, a quick coat of foundation or a few layers of make-up manage to hide the dryness, blemishes or dark circles... at least for a few hours.
When we have these temporary quick fix solutions, it can become all to easy to give up on actually trying to do the 'right' thing by our bodies. Excuses come pouring in and we manage to convince ourselves that 'this is just how I am an how I will always be'.
When it comes it our skin, the saying 'you are what you eat' resonates strong and true. So much of what we put into our bodies shows up in our skin - whether it be through dry patches, pimples, inflammation, flakiness, rashes or the like.
Chronic skin conditions are best managed and treated by a practising dermatologist but general skin conditions, can often be adequately managed through a healthy diet, a monitored external environment, and a reduction or management of stress.
Factors affecting skin conditions are often those which trigger an inflammatory response in the body. This could be anything ranging from an emotional stressor, a specific inflammation caused from an allergy to a particular food, material or plant, or an inflammatory response from too much of a certain food, or too little of the crucial vitamins and minerals required to support healthy immune function.
Top Skin Nutrients and Where to Find Them:
Omega 3 Fatty Acids: Increasing omega-3 fatty acids is a vital step towards healing the skin. Consuming enough omega-3 fatty acids has been shown to decrease inflammation, and may reduce the risk of acne and other skin problems by decreasing insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) and preventing hyperkeratinisation of sebaceous follicles. Conditions such as atopic dermatitis and psoriasis have been shown to be positively affected by supplementation with omega-3s from fish oil, likely due to competitive inhibition of arachidonic acid leading to a reduction in the inflammatory process. Clinical results from omega-3 supplementation include an improvement in overall skin condition as well as a reduction in pruritis, scaling, and erythema. Omega-3 fatty acids have also been demonstrated to inhibit inflammation in the skin caused by UV radiation, and some research suggests it could potentially reduce the risk of skin cancer.
Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in foods such as sardines, anchovies, wild salmon, cod liver oil, fish oil, walnuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds.
Skin damage is more often than not caused by oxidisation and damage from free radicals in our body. Having too many toxic substances in our foods or our environment, can lead to a fast deterioration of our skin cells. Antioxidants neutralise free radicals in our bodies by 'donating' electrons to free radicals making them stable again. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant which also aids in the protection of the skin from UV rays. Vitamin E cannot be produced by our bodies and therefore needs to be absorbed via our diets.
Some of the best sources of Vitamin E found in our diets include almonds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds and other nuts and seeds. Leafy green vegetables are also great sources of Vitamin E.
Vitamin A (Beta Carotene):
Skin is a major retinoid-responsive tissue and vitamin A metabolites have been in use for decades for the treatment of various skin conditions, including acne vulgaris and photo-aging. Topical vitamin A is the form that makes a real difference in your skin. Medical studies show a reduction in lines and wrinkles, good acne control, and some psoriasis relief, all from using creams containing this nutrient.
Obtaining levels of Vitamin A into your body via your diet isn't difficult to do as it is abundant in many fruits and vegetables (particularly all of the ones which are red or orange in colour) as well as our dark leafy greens - red capsicum, tomatoes, strawberries, red grapes, kale, broccoli, spinach, swiss chard.
Vitamin B7 (Biotin):
When it comes to skin, the single most important B vitamin is biotin, a nutrient that forms the basis of skin, nail, and hair cells. Without adequate amounts, you may end up with dermatitis (an itchy, scaly skin reaction) or sometimes even hair loss. Even a mild deficiency causes symptoms.
Most people get enough biotin without even trying. It's found in many foods including bananas, eggs, oatmeal, and rice, plus your body also makes some biotin on its own.
Vitamin C is an essential part of skin health both as a small molecular weight antioxidant and as a critical factor for the synthesis of collagen. Vitamin C contributes to photoprotection, decreases photodamage, and is needed for adequate wound healing. Oral supplementation with vitamin C may help prevent UV-induced damage, especially in combination with supplemental vitamin E.
Top foods for a boost of Vitamin C every day include oranges, spinach, grapefruit, broccoli, strawberries, kale, and capsicums.
Collagen is the most common and abundant of your body’s proteins, found only in human and animal tissue, specifically the connective tissues throughout your body, from your muscles, bones and tendons to your blood vessels and digestive system. Certain environmental and lifestyle factors, unfortunately, can diminish collagen production, your skin tone and elasticity, making the production of young and healthy skin seem less and less unattainable as time goes on - these factors can include stress & trauma, too much UV exposure, excess sugar in your diet, poor gut health, dehydration, nutritional deficiencies, and toxic overload.
To get more collagen into your diet you can supplement with a good quality marine based collagen and vitamin c powder or alternatively include foods such as bone broth, wild salmon, kelp, chlorella, dark leafy greens, and eggs into your diet.
Not a mineral which you hear much about, but sulphur is already readily abundant in the body and when it comes to skin, is a fundamental factor for synthesising collagen, which gives skin its structure and strength. Furthermore, it plays a role in the synthesis of glutathione - an important cellular antioxidant which plays a role in regulating oxidative stress, detoxification and immune function. High levels of antioxidants in the body combat the damaging effects of free radicals which can damage and deplete skin cells.
Sulphur is commonly found in foods such as eggs, seafood, red meat, kale, raw onion, raw garlic and raw asparagus.
Stay Hydrated - Dehydration shows up quickly on our skin, hair and nails and ensuring we are giving our bodies enough H20 enables our cells and lymphatic system to work as it should. Aim for 2 to 3 litres of filtered water every single day.
Be Sun Smart - A few minutes in the sun can give us enough crucial Vitamin D for the day and leave us feeling energised and happy. Too much time in the sun however can damage our skin cells and increase the rate of cellular damage.
Stress Less - Increased stress in the body, increases the rate of inflammation in our body which can lead to a whole host of physiological issues - one of them being a inflammation of the skin. Introducing de-stressing activities into your life such as walking, yoga, deep breathing, journalling and meditation can al help to reduce the levels of stress in your body.
Look after your gut - We could be eating all of the good foods around, but without the ability to properly digest and assimilate these foods, what's the point? Having poor gut health or a build up of bad gut bacteria can cause many issues in the body especially around digestive health. Not being able to digest our vitamins & minerals properly, means your body can't use them as it should. Introducing fermented foods into your diet on a daily basis (such as kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, and kombucha) along side a good quality pro biotic can help in keeping your microbiome in check.