by Autumn Beam, MS, ACN, CNS, LDN
The largest organ in our body is actually our skin. Keeping our skin healthy, protected and nourished is important, but, really, the condition of our skin is a reflection of what the inside of our body is doing. Things like red bumps or spots, redness, inflammation (like eczema), acne, itchy spots, dark circles, skin pallor, and other changes can tell us that something is going on nutritionally.
I want to share with you the top 3 foods that I love for improving the condition of your skin. I’m always a big fan of nutrition coming from whole foods, so let’s go:
One of my favorite things to do is to squeeze half of a lemon into warm water and drink on an empty stomach. You will notice a difference in your skin in as early as a week. Other ways to consume lemon are in a homemade salad dressing or squeezed on a cooked veggie or chicken dish.
Why is this?
Lemon is a huge source of vitamin C, antioxidants called Lutein and Zeaxanthin, calcium, folate and choline. It also contains some B1, B2, B5, B6, copper and manganese.
One thing to note is that you will not get the same benefit to the skin with taking a vitamin C supplement unless MAYBE it’s a whole food form, and even then, the fact that it’s not as fresh will alter the nutrient content. The reason is that whole foods contain a constellation of nutrients that act in relationship to each other. Not only that, the “ascorbic acid” found in C supplements is only one component of the vitamin C complex.
Whole foods are better than supplements in this respect, but supplements can be helpful for targeting specific additional nutrient needs due to various medical conditions, situations, etc. Talk to your CNS about when that makes sense for you. Lastly, consuming lemon may not be a good idea for certain medical conditions such as those with ulcers, gastritis or have histamine intolerance. Again, talk to your CNS if you’re worried.
Salmon contains essential fatty acids, specifically Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Consuming healthy fats are critical for supporting cell membranes, brain, eyes, hair, nails, and especially SKIN.
Cells comprise all of our body, but we see the beneficial effects in the skin when we have enough fat because the membrane on the outside of the cell is made up of fat. Healthy cells have healthy membranes. Healthy fats, like fats that come from Salmon, help keep the membrane fluid to allow for the passage of nutrients between the bodily fluids and the inside of the cell. Reduced membrane fluidity is seen in various issues or diseases such as cancer, increase oxidative damage, and nervous system disorders. That optimal fluidity makes skin look and feel amazing and, along with proper hydration, reduces that dry look.
You can see that cell fluidity isn’t all about water (although that’s also critical). Low fat diets were all the rage 20 or 30 years ago, but long-term studies are finding that it’s not so much about not eating fat, it’s about the QUALITY of the fats we choose to consume. Also, some plant-based fats are highly problematic. Oops. I guess “plant-based” is a case-by-case basis, isn’t it?
Teaching our clients how to choose the proper fats for optimal health is part of what we do. It’s important! I can’t tell you how many clients thought they were making the right choices and were shocked to discover they had it wrong and were completely misled by bad media information. Fat type, cooking temperature for that fat you choose, and optimal intake all matter. Let’s also not forget that salmon is part of an anti-inflammatory diet, in part because of the healthy fat it contains. This can reduce the redness, acne, dry skin, etc.
Fatty fish also contains vitamin E (another component of skin health), zinc and is a good source of protein. Other healthy fats that improve skin: walnuts and avocadoes!
Broccoli contains great sources of things like vitamin C, zinc, vitamin A, as well as antioxidants such as lutein. Broccoli, along with its cruciferous counterparts, also contain sulforaphane known for assisting with proper detoxification (especially hormones like estrogens), reducing inflammation, and being protective against things like cancer.
Skin cancer is one such cancer that sulforaphane is protective for because of its role in free-radical protection from sun damage. Both sulforaphane and vitamin C are known for its impact on healthy collagen production as well. Collagen is critical for maintaining our skin resilience and elasticity. You don’t always need to take collagen supplements to maintain healthy collagen levels in the skin. In fact, you could potentially save yourself a lot of money by eating the right foods daily.
When it comes to evaluating nutritional status, we really do recommend personalized nutrition counseling to identify where issues may be stemming from. Things like our gut health, nutrient status or endocrine function can be the cause and nothing will support that better than saving yourself time of troubleshooting things on your own than speaking with one of us (whether here or with another CNS).
You will hear us say frequently that reading a blog and spending money on supplements suggested in an article or news story may not be the answer for you, even if it was the answer for the person presenting the information or even a friend you know.
Know that we are here anytime you need us and, to start, all you have to do is set up a complimentary discovery call with one of our team members. Contact us today to set an appointment for you.
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Check out our other recent article "What the H is Sleep Inertia?"
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