By nutritiontogo, Oct 12 2015 09:34AM
YOUR SKIN - OVERWORKED AND UNDER APPRECIATED?
Where would we be without our skin? This incredible organ (your body's largest and fastest growing), not only keeps our insides in, it also protects us from infection, radiation and dehydration, keeps us warm and makes us look good.
But when was the last time you spared a thought for your skin or gave it some much-needed TLC? After all, no other organ in the body is so exposed to damage and disease from the outside world. For example, from sunlight, environmental pollution, smoking, cold weather, air conditioning, heating, germs, injury, shaving and applications (such as make-up, creams, deodorants, perfumes, aftershaves and other harsh toiletries). And the list goes on...
At the same time, the state of our skin tends to reflect many aspects of our inner health (both physical and emotional), such as blushing, sweating, toxic load, intolerances, allergies and illness. What's going on within can lead to skin-related symptoms such as cold sores, acne, rashes, hives, psoriasis and discolouration.
Your skin is a delicate organ, which is affected by any number of factors - both internal and external. These include age, hormonal balance, genes, hygiene, lifestyle, circulation, digestive health (including the balance of gut flora), liver function and detoxification. Perhaps most notably, nutrition is a key factor, involved at every stage of skin development.
So if your skin is looking a little lacklustre and feeling less than fresh, why not give it a boost from within.
IMPROVING YOUR SKIN THROUGH NUTRITION
It's hardly surprising that the skin, the most outward organ of our bodies, reflects what we put into it.
If our diet is made up of mainly greasy, fatty foods, our skin is likely to be greasy too. Clogged pores, acne and dull complexion are also common with this type of diet. The result? Older looking skin.
In contrast, if our diet is packed with natural, nutritious foods that are rich in skin-loving nutrients like antioxidants, phyto-chemicals, vitamins and minerals, our skin is more likely to be vibrant, fresh and clear. The result, younger looking skin - particularly if we stay well-hydrated too.
But nutrition also has a more direct role to play in the state of our skin. Starting with the dermis (the inner layer), collagen is made when vitamin C converts the amino acid proline into hydroxyproline. Collagen is the substance in our bodies that gives skin its strength, elasticity and structure. No vitamin C equals no proline - so pack your diet with foods that are rich in this vital antioxidant if you want to keep your skin looking youthful!
Why our skin starts to look older (often before our time)!
Antioxidants for skin
The flexibility of collagen and elastin fibres declines over time, owing largely to damage caused by free radicals - harmful molecules that are formed through the body's natural processes, as well as as a result of external factors within the environment (such as those already described above). Free radicals can damage or destroy tissue, resulting in skin that looks old and wrinkled.
Antioxidants are nutrients that are thought to help protect the body against the destructive effects of free radicals. They are found in natural whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds. They are most common in plant foods with naturally bright, distinctive colours, such as bright green wheatgrass, red cherries, orange carrots and purple blueberries (for instance). The most common (and powerful) antioxidants are vitamins A, C and E. Others include beta carotene, selenium, lycopene, anthocyanins and resveratrol.
As well as antioxidants, Omega oils (healthy fats) also have a key role to play in skin health. The membranes of skin cells are made from these essential fats. A diet lacking in these fats can mean that the cells dry out too quickly.
A lack of any of these nutrients can leave your skin looking dry and feeling itchy, can make your skin more prone to stretch marks, cellulite and poor healing and can contribute to a host of skin problems (such as eczema). The answer?
1. A diet packed with antioxidants, phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids sourced from fresh, unprocessed foods.
2. Limited intake of alcohol, caffeine, artificial additives, salt, saturated fat, sugar and smoking.
3. Proper hydration - drink at least a litre of water (preferably filtered) each day.
This way, you'll be giving your skin the best chance to look its best, and for longer. In many ways, what you eat and drink today, you wear tomorrow.
Natural treats for your skin
Natural skin treats
And don't forget herbs and spices! Although usually only used in small amounts, they can offer concentrated sources of beauty nutrients, phytochemicals and anti-inflammatories. So, when planning your meals for a younger looking you, make sure to include these fab natural skin boosters:
Parsley: High in pro-vitamin A and K1, as well as luteolin (nature's 'anti-rust paint' for your skin cells)!
Garlic: Shown in studies to have a beneficial effect on fibroblasts (special cells that create collagen).
Turmeric: Rich in manganese and iron (which provides nutrition to cells), as well as curcumin (a natural anti-inflammatory).
Cinnamon and cloves: Both contain antioxidants and show great promise in helping to protect against the formation of Advanced Glycation End-Products - compounds that wreak havoc on our skin and literally age us from the inside.
Basil: Rich in the antioxidants cryptoxanthin, lutein and zea-xanthin, as well as vitamin K1.