When we think of skin care, generally our first thoughts go to topical creams and lotions. We use lotions to hydrate our skin, sunscreen to protect us from harmful UV exposure, and a wide variety of other products all applied directly to the outside of our skin. Even nutritionally, vitamins are often formulated into a skin cream that is absorbed through the outer layer of derma as a means for nourishing our skin.
The skincare industry has become a multi-billion dollar market, and for good reason. All of us want to have healthy skin and look our best. I’m sure this healthy concern for our skin began long before Cleopatra, and will continue long after my application of my favorite moisturizer this morning!
However, recent studies have begun to show that dramatic changes in our skin are more likely to occur from what we eat and drink, rather than what we apply to the outside. These clinical studies have focused on how specific vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and water affected the overall health and appearance of the control subject’s skin.
Clinical Studies Reveal A Nutritional Approach To Skin Care
When we look at the data presented by these researchers, it becomes clear that dramatic improvements can be made by properly hydrating and nourishing our skin from the inside. Much of this research has also shown tremendous promise with the role antioxidants have in slowing down the aging process by attacking free radicals.
Based on information provided by the Mayo Clinic, American Dermatology Institute, and Duke University researchers, certain food sources, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants showed merit and are listed below. Their research also showed that “how” these nutrients were introduced into our bodies were of less importance, meaning that a balance of both topical (for some) and ingested (as would be the case for food and water sources) were all beneficial.
- Water, Water, Water: Despite seeming like common sense, low-grade chronic hydration problems can happen. Medical experts recommend 8 to 9 glasses of water every day to ensure adequate hydration for your skin under normal conditions. Our skin needs plenty of water from the inside to remain supple, flexible and healthy.
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C has been shown to be essential in fighting off the aging effects of skin. Citrus fruits and other fruit or veggie sources should be on your grocery list every week. Vitamin C in supplement form combined with the above natural foods is the way to go.
- Antioxidants: Antioxidants are important weapons against the destructive powers of free radicals on both our skin and our bodies in general. Food sources rich in these nutrients are pomegranate, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, red wine and green tea. All of these provide some levels of antioxidants, however most studies have shown that concentrated blood levels need to be higher than what normal consumption of these foods can provide. The same problems with bioavailability exists from many supplemental sources as well. Consuming food and supplemental sources of antioxidants is recommended.
- Vitamin A: Vitamin A has been shown to repair damaged skin from UV exposure, used both topically and internally. Green, leafy vegetables like spinach and broccoli are excellent sources of vitamin A. Low-fat dairy products and yogurt are also top food sources for A vitamins. The nutrients in these vegetables and dairy products also help with collagen growth, soft tissue repair, and skin disorders.
- Omega 3s: Every year, new studies show more and more the importance of this essential fat for anti-aging, cardiovascular health, and fighting diseases. So it’s no surprise that getting plenty of omega 3s in our diet will help our skin too. Certain seafoods, walnuts, and flaxseed oil are high in this “good fat”. Again, combining supplementation with food sources makes sense because of the higher calories in the nut and seed foods, and the concerns of mercury if we eat fish everyday. This is an important oil for our skin; just be smart, and balance your consumption with the above concerns in mind.
Understanding the relevance between healthy skin and what we eat or drink is becoming more and more the buzz in the beauty and skincare industry. Something so obvious, has at times taken a back seat to the more appealing lotions and creams. Amazingly, what we could see in the face of an alcoholic or lifelong smoker is finally getting a lot of attention from the scientific community and the skincare crowd.