Nutrition not only relates to diet, digestion and staying healthy on the inside, but it also affects the health and appearance of our skin.
As the largest organ of the human body, our skin protects us from bacteria and the elements, helps regulate body temperature and permits the sensations of touch, heat and cold. However, many of us are unaware that changes in diet can influence the colour, texture, appearance or nature of our skin. Good nutrition is essential for maintaining healthy skin. We can’t prevent the process of our skin ageing but we can maintain an attractive complexion through a healthy diet. To thrive, human skin requires nutrients found in fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and fish. As we age, our skin repairs more slowly and becomes thinner, drier and less able to withstand damage.
One of the main reasons our skin deteriorates over time is because of free radicals. Free radicals are molecules in our body that cause damage to surrounding cells making them more susceptible to attack from bacteria and other factors that trigger the ageing process. Free radicals form as part of our normal body processes and our body has its own way of limiting their damage. The efficiency with which our bodies deal with them is important for determining the longevity and health of our body cells and skin. Environmental factors such as pollution, radiation, cigarette smoke and herbicides increase the levels of free radicals, as do high levels of processed foods and poor nutrition. It’s important to be mindful of these factors and avoid them where possible.
Antioxidants are molecules that work to protect against cell damage by fighting free radicals. A combination of antioxidants and nutrients can protect the skin for free radical damage. These can be obtained from a healthy diet that includes vegetables, nuts, yoghurt, eggs, vegetables oils, whole grains, tea and water. This will result in less sun-ageing and skin-wrinkling than diets that include excessive amounts of red meat, whole milk, butter, sugary products and potatoes. Healthy skin also indicates that we’re healthy on the inside. By drinking water, eating the right foods and staying away from the wrong ones we can maintain healthy skin.
Include the following foods in your diet to maintain health inside and out:
Foods, fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin A:
- *Animal products (e.g. liver)
- *Carrots, rock melons and tomatoes (orange and yellow)
- *Sweet potatoes and winter squash (dark orange)
- *Broccoli, spinach and kale vegetables (dark green)
- *Low fat dairy products are rich in both vitamins A and D
Fruits containing antioxidants
- *Strawberries, blueberries and plums, to name a few Omega 3 fatty acids
- *Olive oil and other plant oils, walnuts and other edible seeds
Other sources of antioxidants:
- *Green tea, red wine
*By Dr Rajna Ogrin; BSc, BPod (hons), PhD, Senior Research Fellow at RDNS Institute