Can we talk about the reasons you choose to eat healthy?
To relieve digestive issues?
To shed a couple of pounds?
To have more energy?
...Because it just seems like the “right” thing to do?
While these tend to be the more common motivators for change, the incredible part of eating (more) clean is that you will typically experience ALL of these benefits and more.
Have you heard the phrase “food is medicine”? I'm a big believer. Fix thy diet first, I say.
Did you know that food can also be medicine for your skin?!
Good nutrition can have many healing properties for some of the most common skin-related ailments including acne, rosacea, eczema, discoloration, dullness, and wrinkles. While there are specific foods you can focus on including or eliminating from your diet for each particular issue, a plant-based, whole foods diet will certainly promote overall skin health.
(When I say "plant-based"I'm not talkin' straight vegan, just lots of foods that are as close to the earth as possible.)
Because our skin is built from the inside out, it totally makes sense to look at what you’re feeding it! So, the following foods are particularly effective at promoting skin health:
Omega-3s: These fatty acids help to normalize skin lipids and prevent dehydration in the cells. This keeps skin cells strong and full of moisture, which can help to decrease the appearance of fine lines. Fatty acid deficiency can manifest in a variety of ways, but skin problems such as eczema, thick patches of skin, and cracked heels are common. Omega-3 fats may also have an anti-inflammatory effect that can help to calm irritated skin, and have also been shown in several studies to protect skin against sun damage. (this is just skin-related; there are, like, a million other reasons why you need Omega-3s!)
Examples: fish (mackerel, salmon, tuna, white fish), chia seeds, flaxseeds, hemp seeds, walnuts, seaweed, soybeans, egg yolks, natto, spinach, and brussels sprouts.
Beta-Carotene: Orange-red vegetables are full of beta-carotene. Your body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A which aids in the growth and repair of body tissues (including your skin), and prevents cell damage and premature aging. Beta-carotene also acts as an antioxidant that may protect against sun damage. Spinach and other green, leafy foods provide lots of vitamin A as well!
Examples: sweet potatoes, carrots, leafy greens, butternut squash, cantaloupe, red bell pepper, apricots, watercress, grapefruit, watermelon, cherries, mangoes, tomatoes, guava, asparagus, and red cabbage.
Antioxidants: The best defense against free radical damage is a diet rich in antioxidant vitamins and minerals. Research suggests that certain antioxidants (vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, and vitamin A) nourish and protect the skin leading to a more youthful and glowing appearance. Antioxidants protect healthy cells while halting the growth of damaged, malignant, or cancerous cells.
Examples: goji berries, wild blueberries, artichoke, pecans, beans (kidney, pinto), cranberries, cilantro, apples, prunes, and berries.
Sure, you can get all of these beautiful foods in through your meals - but - you can also support your skin with...SNACKS! Made In Nature provides a variety of healthy snacks that have a high content of the above nutrients. To promote your skin health on the go, check out their dried fruits (I especially love the cranberries and cherries for trail mix), kale chips, and nut fusions! (psst: save $10 with code GOOD)
While the intake of the above nutrients are essential for optimal skin health, it’s only HALF of the equation for clear and healthy skin. If you’re struggling with a serious skin issue, it’s also important to acknowledge the foods that can aggravate it.
Well, that, and - DRINK WATER. OMG DRINK WATER #1 #1 #1.
OK, back to what to limit from your intake...limiting sugars and refined grains is one of the most important steps you can take to improve your skin health. Sugar acts as a food for bad bacteria (acne is a bacterial condition), and leads to redness and inflammation. A diet high in refined grains and sugar also means rapid insulin spikes which triggers the production of sebum (leading to clogged pores, blackheads, and whiteheads).
Alcohol, processed foods, trans fats, and pasteurized dairy products are also common culprits of a bad complexion. These foods are pro-inflammatory which means they can aggravate or worsen existing inflammatory skin conditions, such as acne, rashes, and eczema.
Tell me: What are you struggling with? What has worked for you?