Skin health is almost always approached from an outside-in perspective. With all the creams, moisturizers, sunscreens and cosmetics out there, most people never look beyond what they put on the surface of their skin to treat dryness, acne or wrinkles.
Leave aside the fact most of these skin products are made from toxic petroleum products, chemical fragrances and hormone altering toxins. These products all exist on a false assumption -- that problems on the surface of your skin should be treated from the surface. The skin is actually an external indicator of internal health. Lotions, balms and creams, while possibly offering temporary relief, can't possibly correct the underlying internal problems and deficiencies which are manifesting on the outside.
A diet of the right foods, as well as avoidance of the wrong ones, can help to reveal beautiful, vibrant skin. Here are 10 foods that have been found to be helpful for healthy skin.
Flaxseed Oil/Borage Oil: High in essential fatty acids, both Omega 3 and 6, these seed oils were found in a French study to reduce redness when skin was purposely irritated. "Both [borage and flaxseed] groups showed significant decreases in skin roughness and scaling after 12 weeks, while no change was observed in the placebo group."
Green Tea: Brewed green tea is incredibly high in antioxidants, important for eliminating free radicals which can damage skin cells and cause signs associated with aging. Polyphenols in green tea have been found to rejuvenate dying skin cells. Green tea also has vitamin C, a potent antioxidant which reduces inflammation and protects cell membranes.
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Fatty Fish: Fish like salmon, herring, mackerel, whitefish and char are high in Omega 3 fats. Fatty fish are particularly high in EPA and DHA, two forms of the essential omega 3s that are associated with decreased inflammation which can be the root cause of skin problems. They also help to maintain the healthy structure of cell walls allowing for the right nutrients to get in while the waste products are kicked out. Healthy cell membranes equals healthy skin.
Berries: Berries are considered some of the most potent sources for antioxidants which protect skin cells from free radical damage. When protected from damage at the cellular level the skin looks younger for longer. Strawberries are also a good source of silica, a vital trace mineral for healthy skin and connective tissue.
Celery: A great source of silica, a trace mineral that strengthens the body's connective tissues and is vital for healthy skin. Other sources of silica include leeks, green beans, garbanzo beans, strawberries, cucumber, mango, celery, asparagus and rhubarb.
Cucumbers: Cucumbers contain vitamin C and caffeic acid, two antioxidants that help fend off wrinkles and sun damage. Vitamin C boosts collagen and elastin, which helps keep skin looking vibrant. Caffeic acid protects skin cells from UV radiation. Cucumbers' natural anti-inflammatory properties calm and soothe skin reddened by rosacea or sunburn when applied topically. Cucumbers also contain silica.
Carrots: Carrots contain both betacarotene (precursor to vitamin A) and vitamin C. Vitamin A is necessary for the growth and maintenance of healthy skin cells. Dry skin or red bumps on the skin are possible symptoms of vitamin A deficiency. Betacarotene acts as an antioxidant to neutralize harmful free radicals, helping to prevent wrinkles, resist infection and keep skin youthful.
Pumpkin Seeds: Don't throw out the seeds from that jack-o-lantern. Pumpkin seeds contain zinc, an important mineral component of healthy skin. Zinc is especially important for acne sufferers, (acne may actually be a symptom of zinc deficiency). Zinc helps to control the production of sebum in the skin, and may also act by regulating some of the hormones that create acne.
MSM: If you're looking to really see some changes in your skin, try supplementing with methyl sulfonyl methane (MSM), a particularly bio-available form of sulphur. Although it's available in some wild-grown fruits and vegetables that have had exposure to rain water, MSM is chemically altered and destroyed when foods are processed, heated, or dehydrated, so the best source is from supplements. Sulfur produces flexible skin and muscle tissue, helps prevent wrinkling, hydrates collagen and increases the growth of hair and nails. There's a reason hot sulfur baths are valued in spa circles!
Water: Remaining properly hydrated is one of the best things you can do for your skin. Caffeinated beverages, sugar drinks and juice don't count - it has to be water! Water hydrates skin cells, allowing them to move cell wastes out and move nutrients in more easily. A properly hydrated body sweats more efficiently, keeping skin clean and open.
The Healthy Foodie is Doug DiPasquale, Holistic Nutritionist and trained chef, living in Toronto. You can email him with questions at email@example.com.