Healthy glowing skin isn’t just about how you look. Your skin is a reflection of how healthy you are overall. It is also the body’s largest organ and the first line of defense for your immune system. That makes taking good care of your skin important for your health. And there is much to protect it from. One of the biggest threats to your skin is free radicals that destroy skin cells and lead to inflammation. Free radicals are molecules in cells that are weakened to the point that they lose an electron. This weakness is caused by such things as toxins in the body, exposure to UV rays, chlorinated water, pollution, and overcooked, fried and processed foods. These free radicals then go around taking electrons from other molecules and creating more free radicals and can cause inflammation in the body. Too much time in the sun can cause free radicals to multiply to the point of prematurely aging the skin with wrinkles, drying and age spots and even lead to skin cancer. If you spend enough time in the sun to burn then you are at the inflammation stage where the free radicals have started into oxidation. Oxidation destroys the cells that produce collagen and elastin that are necessary for firm, clear, and resilient skin. This is why it is advised to wear sun screen with a SPF of a minimum of 30 and that protects against UVA and UVB light and clothes to protect your skin from the sun.
In addition to what you put on your skin in the form of sunscreen and moisturizers, you can also protect your skin by what you put inside your body in the form of nutrition. This is nothing new as Chinese Medicine has recognized for ages that when the water element (yin) and the fire element (yang) are out of balance leaning more to the fire side, the skin shows signs such as pimples as a form of inflammation, redness and itchiness. Drinking more water is a natural solution to re-balancing these elements and hydrating internally can ease peeling, cracking, redness and itching caused by dry skin. While drinking water hydrates you from the inside, a good vitamin rich moisturizer can help hydrate skin on the outside. Inflammation can also be the result of sensitivities to foods, stress, hormones out of balance and poor diet. There are foods for healthy skin that can support your immune system to reduce inflammation, detoxify your body and fight off free radicals. Experts list certain vitamins, minerals and other nutrients as being able to nourish skin whether eaten in foods, supplements or applied to the outside of the body in lotions. Lisa Drayer, R.D., author of The Beauty Diet, says that skin can’t look and be at its healthiest without the nutrients that it needs from foods and Georgiana Donadio, PhD, DC, MSc, founder and director of the National Institute of Whole Health in Boston agrees that foods for healthy skin included in your diet will keep skin healthy and will benefit your overall health. Here are some of the major types of foods experts recommend adding to your diet for good skin.
If you could only make one change in your diet to help your skin, adding antioxidant foods would be the change to make. Antioxidants protect against cell damage from free radicals and can help repair damage they have caused. The older we get, the more important this is since cells don’t repair themselves as well as we age. Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA) is a super antioxidant that unlike most other antioxidants, is able to penetrate oil and water which allows it to work on skin cells inside and outside the body. The body produces small amounts itself, it can be taken as a supplement, is found in skin creams and is in small amounts in foods such as meats, broccoli, spinach and brewer’s yeast. Lycopene is another excellent antioxidant for protection from sun damage and is found in tomatoes and watermelon. Studies show that cooking tomatoes in olive oil provides more protection than raw tomatoes. Watermelon is also higher in lycopene than raw tomatoes and of course needs no cooking to increase its benefits. Green tea contains catechins that help reduce inflammation and the risk of cancers. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry reported a study in 2007 finding that two to six cups a day reduces the risk of skin cancer and can help reverse damage from the sun to skin. Dark chocolate is a rich source of flavonols that can help keep skin smooth and protect it from damaging rays from the sun. Vitamin C found in such foods as sweet potatoes, Bell pepper, oranges, strawberries and broccoli is vital in the production of collagen. A study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported participants getting 4 milligrams of vitamin C a day over a 3 year period had 11% less wrinkles. Berries not only have the antioxidant power of vitamin C to fight off free radicals and produce collagen, but also adds to your hydration. Cherries are another fruit that is especially good for skin as its antioxidants help in the production of melatonin that protects the skin from UV rays and aids in producing new cells. The antioxidants in pomegranates are not only effective in protecting against sun damage, but also in renewing cells and protecting collagen. Vitamin E is another important antioxidant for skin protection and fighting off free radicals and is found in vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, olives, spinach, and asparagus. Vitamin A from foods with beta-carotene such as dark green leafy vegetables like spinach, liver, sweet potatoes, carrots and eggs helps in repairing skin tissue. The B vitamin, biotin, is also a must for good skin. The beneficial bacteria in our guts produce biotin so supporting the probiotics in our intestines like acidophilus and bifidus is important. Food sources for biotin include AFA blugreen alage, brown rice, bananas, oatmeal, mushrooms, eggs, and liver. Niacin is another B vitamin that you often find in skin lotions because it helps keep moisture in skin and has anti-inflammatory properties.
Three of the most important minerals for skin health are selenium, copper and zinc. Selenium found in foods such as seafood, garlic, eggs and whole grain cereal can help protect you from sunburn. Copper as an ingredient in skin cream can help keep skin firm and elastic and help in wrinkle prevention. Supplements of copper can be dangerous if you are not deficient in this mineral so check with your healthcare provider before taking an oral supplement of copper. Zinc is especially important for skin conditions such as acne as it helps control the skin’s oil production. Oysters, lean meats like pork and poultry, fortified cereals, sesame seeds, milk, yogurt, and miso are all good food sources for zinc.
Essential Fatty Acids
Essential fatty acids such as omega-6 and omega-3 help prevent dry, flaky, itchy skin and in keeping skin cells flexible. Safflower oil, a good source of omega-6, has been reported to help with even severe conditions such as eczema. Omega-3 found in foods such as fatty coldwater fish like salmon, walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, bluegreen algae, avocados and olive oil helps keep the skin’s protective oil in balance, in reducing age spots, wrinkle lines, black heads and keeping skin hydrated. Salmon is an especially good choice for getting omega-3 because it also has an antioxidant called astaxanthin that is even better than vitamin E for repairing skin damaged by the sun and reducing symptoms of aging that show on the skin. Most people don’t have a problem getting enough omega-6 in their diets since it is found in cooking oil, grains, processed and fast foods, but getting the right balance of omega-3 and omega-6 both is sometimes tricky. One way to get the exact ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids is taking this strain of AFA blue-green algae.
Adult stem cells, that are already in our bodies and are not controversial like embryonic stem cell use is, maintain and renew body tissue and help in maintaining a healthy immune system. As we get older, we don’t produce as many adult stem cells and they don’t regenerate themselves as fast as when we were younger. This is where supplementation can help. Research has shown that certain nutrients such as are present in this stem cell support supplement can help promote the renewal of stem cells. It provides nutrition that supports the growth of stem cells and provides antioxidants that protect existing stem cells from free radical damage. One of the ingredients, carnosine, is an antioxidant amino acid naturally present in the human body that may delay the natural aging of cells and extend the lifespan of adult stem cells.
Too busy to get in enough fruits and veggies for your antioxidants? This antioxidant supplement is loaded with chlorophyll, glutathione, enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. It contains a blend of kale sprouts, red clover sprouts, wheat sprouts, concentrated wheat sprouts, and Dunaliella salina algae so antioxidant power is always available to you no matter how much you are on the run. .
We all want to have good looking and youthful skin, but more importantly, your skin says a lot about how healthy you are and is there to help protect you. Eating your way to healthier skin will help it do the best job possible in protecting you and keeping your youthful appearance.
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