Human skin is the largest organ of the body and has many responsibilities including acting as the main barrier from external pathogens, regulating body temperature, and protecting against water loss. Skin also serves an aesthetic role which usually forms the initial impression by which people measure the ideas of beauty.
Skin can become poor when it is exposed to external factors such as a poor diet, sun burn, and environmental pollutants. These factors can influence poor skin through the introduction of harmful molecules called free radicals which promote premature aging by inducing inflammation that damages healthy cells. Visible signs of poor skin include sagginess, wrinkles, and fine lines.
Most people attribute skin care to what’s put ON the skin. Skin creams and lotions all claim to help you look younger, but many of these products are filled with chemicals that can seep into your bloodstream. The healthier option to improving skin health is to focus on what you’re putting IN your body. Instead of spending all your money on pricey beauty products, invest in healthy plant-based foods that serve as the necessary building blocks for a healthy appearance and a healthy body.
Most skin problems can be solved by adopting a whole plant-based diet. Unprocessed plant-based foods offer a variety of nutrients that will have your skin smooth and glowing. Below is a list of a few nutrients that support skin health.
Vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin that is essential for the maintenance of healthy skin. This vitamin functions as a powerful antioxidant and protects the skin against harmful cell mutations cause by free radicals.
Foods high in vitamin E include almonds, sunflower seeds, avocado, spinach, and butternut squash.
Vitamin C is a vitamin that is essential for the development of collagen. Adequate collagen levels helps keep skin smooth and firm by strengthening the body’s connective tissues. Vitamin C also serves as a powerful antioxidant by eliminating free radicals that prematurely age the skin.
Food high in vitamin C include broccoli, strawberries, oranges, bell peppers, and kale
Beta-carotene is a form of Vitamin A that we get directly from eating plant-based foods. Beta- carotene acts as an antioxidant for the skin, protecting it from sun exposure, and improving brightness, tone, firmness and photo-protection.
Foods high in beta-carotene include sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, spinach, kale, mango, and mustard greens.
*Side note* Vitamin A supplementation has been shown to produce adverse health effects. So make sure to get your Vitamin A through whole foods.
Omega- 3 fatty acid
Omega-3 fatty acid’s are a key component in the membranes of skin cells. Omega-3’s become even more important as we start to age. Omega-3’s prevents skin from drying out and flaking, help new skin cells form, and protects against UV sunlight damage.
Foods high in omega-3 include walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds, and algae based omega-3 supplements
Zinc is a trace mineral that plays a major role in cell division. Cell division is critical for the development of healthy cells as well as the repair of damaged cells. Zinc also helps produce proteins such as keratin, that keeps skin firm and forms a protective layer to retain healthy skin. One study found that acne could be induced in young men by exposing them to a zinc deficient diet. It was observed that the acne cleared up when zinc was added back to their diets.
Foods high in zinc include spinach, asparagus, mushrooms, lentils, cashews, seeds, and oats.