Warm weather means we’re shedding those sweaters and showing off more of our largest organ of detox. Largest organ of detox, you ask? Yep: our skin.
To keep our skin in good condition we need to keep our insides in good condition too. That’s why I’m going to share some of the best foods you can eat to give your skin that healthy glow.
As well as being a protective barrier, our skin is also an organ of elimination and it tends to be the organ we’re likely to pay most attention to when there’s a problem. You know how it goes, we might suffer through a lifetime of bloating, gas and indigestion, but as soon as something shows up on our skin, we take action. Immediately!
Our skin is responsible for removing about 20% of the toxins from within. If the other organs of detox are sluggish (think liver and bowels), waste products will look for another way OUT and that’s often through the skin. So, it’s no surprise that the skin is largely a reflection of the condition of our overall health.
The problem is, most of us want to work on clearing up the symptoms quickly instead of treating the underlying problem. I get it. No one wants pimples, wrinkles, redness or flakes including me! Quick fixes are indeed tempting, but will only leave you continuing to struggle with the same problems over and over as the root imbalance rears its ugly head again and again.
Luckily there are plenty of natural ways to get great, glowing and healthy skin.
In Part 1, I’ll focus on whole food skin supporting nutrients and then, in Part 2 – Natural Skin Care Options, touch on a few topical skin savers.
The Best Foods For Skin That Glows
It’s one of the most important and overlooked nutrients period. We can’t live without water for more than a few days. It’s critical for overall health and for healthy skin. Not only does water help to remove waste from your body, it transports nutrients and oxygen through the bloodstream. Water also contributes to the structure of collagen and helps keep your skin hydrated. The water you drink makes its way to the skin last, after it’s been absorbed into the blood, mucous membranes and joints etc. So, it’s important to stay sufficiently hydrated for good skin. Here are some tips on how to drink more water. (link to How to Drink More Water Blog)
Our wonderful and protective oils and sebum are made from fats within our bodies. In fact, all of our cells contain fats, so it’s crucial that we eat the right kind to support cell structure and function. We already get plenty Omega 6s in the Western diet, but many are deficient in the essential Omega 3 fatty acids, which are anti-inflammatory and will work to combat acne, redness and other skin irritations. You really want to avoid the bad fats like fried foods, rancid or hydrogenated oils.
Foods to eat: Look for a good mix of monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and healthy saturated fats. Include fatty wild fish like salmon, raw nuts and seeds, avocados, coconut oil, organic, pastured butter and eggs.
High-quality proteins are really important to your skin because it is primarily made of protein. Collagen and elastin are two critical proteins for skin that offer support and elasticity. Plus, proteins are responsible for building and repairing of tissues.
Foods to eat: Proteins are found in all whole foods. More concentrated protein sources include: nuts, seeds, fish, eggs, whole grains like brown rice and quinoa, legumes and organic meats, but even veggies (carrots, kale, mushrooms for example) contain protein. Aim to eat a balanced whole foods diet you’ll be getting a good mix of complete proteins to nourish the skin.
Sulfur is the third most abundant mineral in the body with highest concentrations in hair, nails and skin is super important for overall wellness and skin health. It helps make up collagen, which keeps skin soft and supple and also contributes to skin elasticity. This mineral is also required to produce our most potent antioxidant glutathione, which will help prevent and the repair free radical damage that shows up on our skin.
Foods to eat: onions, garlic, Brussels sprouts, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, organic, pastured eggs.
This important antioxidant trace mineral helps to provide the skin with a constant layer of moisture by contributing to the acid mantle of our skin, which helps maintain hydration. Selenium also contributes to tissue elasticity and helps combat free radical damage.
Foods to eat: Just 2 Brazil nuts a day will provide you with enough selenium! You can also get selenium from things like sunflower seeds and sustainably caught seafood like shrimp and oysters).
A trace mineral that strengthens the body’s connective tissue, silica is critical to maintain the strength and health of bones, nails and, you guessed it – skin. A deficiency of silica can show up and limp and saggy skin (loss of elasticity) as well as slow wound healing time.
Foods to eat: bananas, cucumber, oats, millet, barley and potatoes
Along with other antioxidants, vitamin C offers a powerful defence against free radical damage, especially that caused by sun damage. Vitamin C is also necessary for the production of collagen, which we’ve established, keeps skin firm and elastic. This specific nutrient has also been proven to reduce dark spots (hyperpigmentation). Plus, the anti-inflammatory properties of vitamin C can also help combat acne and rosacea and dermatitis. It’s important to consume vitamin C in its whole food form as it acts synergistically with other bioactive nutrients.
Foods to eat: bell peppers (especially red and yellow), broccoli, red cabbage, papaya, kiwis, strawberries, citrus fruits.
How To Avoid Bad Skin
It’s not just the stuff you add, it’s also important to remember some things that are known to exacerbate skin conditions. I’d recommend you consider ditching (or limiting) the following:
Refined Sugar – a pro-inflammatory, acidic toxin that overburdens the system and adds harmful waste products to the body. Sugar also damages proteins like collagen and elastin.
Common Food Allergens like Dairy and Wheat – these two food groups are known allergens and contain hard-to-digest proteins that may contribute to inflammation and allergies/sensitivities, which can show up on the skin.
Over-cleansing – too many hot baths and showers and harsh soaps will strip the skin’s acid mantel and dry it out. Plus, if you wash away too much good bacteria on the skin, you’ll be susceptible to bacteria-induced acne.
Negativity and Anger – Stress causes a cascade of toxic reactions within the body, which end up over-burdening the liver. Since a healthy, functioning liver is vital to good skin, work actively to reduce your negative or angry thoughts through deep breathing, journaling, yoga, meditation or connecting with nature.
To find out about how you can treat your skin topically, I’ve put together a short list of natural ingredients and habits that will help nourish and protect your skin from the outside and keep it glowing – check out Part 2 – Natural Skin Care Options!
It’s super important to NOTE that our skin cells turn over every month (approximately 28 days). This means, that you need to be patient when you’re addressing your skin naturally. It may not be as quick as a spot treatment that suppresses the symptom (only for it to pop up again at a later date), but when you treat the root cause you heal from the inside out.
So, eat real, feel good and show off that beautiful organ of yours.
Here’s to sunshine and tank tops!