Alan C. Logan, ND
Lifestyle factors play a major role in maintaining healthy skin. Diet, including food and drink, provides nutrients for the optimal functioning of your skin.
In recent years it has become clear that lifestyle factors are playing an underappreciated role in the day-to-day maintenance of healthy skin, as well as the long-term prevention of the visible signs of aging.
The nutrients that are found in healthy dietary choices such as whole grains, deeply coloured fruits and vegetables, fish and seafood, legumes, nuts and seeds, healthy oils, and beverages such as green tea promote clear and glowing skin by a number of avenues.
In particular, consistently making such dietary choices provides support to the scaffolding of the skin (collagen), enhances proper blood supply to the skin, maintains the lipid barrier for hydration, reduces inflammation, and provides antioxidant support.
Most assaults to the skin, including those of UV rays, are addressed by the body’s unique antioxidant defence system, and it is now understood that this defence system is entirely dependent upon nutrients for optimal functioning.
In addition, overconsuming the wrong types of dietary fats, such as saturated fats, trans fats, and vegetable oils, can also fuel inflammatory processes in the skin. Diets high in processed foods are not only void of skin-protecting nutrients, but they are also more capable of spiking blood sugar and insulin. This repetitive spiking of insulin levels has also been shown to promote inflammation and oxidative stress.
You are What You Eat
Most chronic skin conditions, from acne to psoriasis, and even the development of fine lines and wrinkles, are rooted in inflammation and oxidative stress. This combination can compromise blood flow to the skin, damage collagen structures, upset the critical balance of hydration and, depending on genetic susceptibilities, initiate and fuel the processes of skin disease.
Significant improvements in acne can result after consuming a diet rich in fibre and antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, and whole grain carbohydrates that keep insulin levels balanced. In addition, diets consistently high in fruits and vegetables, olive oil, legumes, and seafood protect against fine lines, wrinkles, and other visible signs of aging.
You are What You Drink
Certain antioxidant-rich foods and beverages may have added value for the skin. Cocoa, for example, has been shown in two recent studies to improve blood flow for more glowing skin, to improve hydration, and to decrease roughness and scaling of the skin in otherwise healthy middle-aged adults.
Green tea has also been associated with improved skin barrier function and protection against UV damage. More evidence that the promotion of healthy skin works from the inside out comes from studies with supplements.
Vitamins C and E, lycopene, and other antioxidant-rich extracts have improved parameters such as moisture, firmness, dullness, and overall tone.