Hydrated, supple, clear, glowing and healthy skin is what we all desire. But do we pay attention to aspects other than complicated skincare routines? Many of us don’t realise that intentionally or unintentionally, our daily choices result in our skin getting ‘starved’ of certain essential nutrients. Skin starvation leads to frequent breakouts, skin allergies, dullness or even premature skin ageing. We keep using creams and serums to get rid of them without realising that sometimes, the actual problem is way more than what meets the eye.
A healthy, glowing complexion says a lot about your skin and your diet. The condition of your skin reflects what you eat. Almost everything in our body is correlated. A healthy diet is the bull’s eye: achieving it would improve your gut health, skin, and overall physical health. Not to mention the countless mental health benefits!
Food is nothing but fuel and our bodies function best when we provide it with balanced and nutritious food. However, whilst many of us are conscious about our food intake when it comes to our waistlines, we often neglect that a good, balanced diet is also hugely important for getting that gorgeous, glowing skin.
To help keep your skin looking, working, and feeling good, we must focus on feeding it well from the inside.
So, the question we ask is, what are the essential nutrients for your skin?
Essential nutrients for healthy skin
Retinoids promote the production of new skin cells and carotenoids, which prevent cell damage and premature ageing. Two types of Vitamin-A are essential to maintain skin health. Some of the Vitamin-A heavy food sources are: the bright yellow- and orange-coloured fruits and vegetables, along with the greens, give you a reasonable amount of Vitamin-A.
So, make sure to make the most of the next mango season! Some other sources include sweet potatoes, tomatoes, pumpkin, red and yellow bell peppers, and of course, carrots!
Vitamin E works like magic to keep your skin soft and supple. We all love using Vitamin-E based creams on our skin since it is one of the most potent antioxidants and can counteract UV damage. Overnight soaked almonds are a simple source of Vitamin-E.
Adding more nuts (Cashews, Walnuts, Chia seeds, Flax seeds, Peanuts, etc.) to your diet could help with further increasing Vitamin-E intake.
3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Moisturising and adding a natural glow to your skin from within is equally important as the external process. Omega-3 fatty acids from Salmons, Oysters, Sardine, along with some vegetable sources like Walnuts, Chia seeds, Hemp and Peanuts, are great to boost your skin health further.
Omega-3 fatty acids in combination with Vitamin-E helps in improving skin lustre and even fighting pigmentation.
Selenium is a powerful antioxidant to fight sun damage, dark spots and ageing. Brazil nuts, Fish, Tomatoes, Shellfish and Eggs are some excellent sources of selenium.
Collagen is a protein and is one of the main building blocks of our skin. It makes up almost 75% of the skin. Unfortunately, collagen degrades as we age. Sometimes, lifestyle factors like smoking and increased stress can further speed up collagen breakdown. Chugging a collagen enriched drink is easy, but ultimately, overall changes in lifestyle are what is sustainable. Three ingredients that help in collagen production are Vitamin-C, Zinc and Copper, along with sufficient protein.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that fights skin ageing. Other than boosting collagen production, it is essential for skin structure and resilience. The simplest way to get a daily dose of Vitamin C is by having a glass of lemonade. Include bell peppers, citrus fruits or even amla, as some additional sources of vitamin C in our diets.
Zinc is vital to clear bacteria and also to remove oil, both of which lead to acne. Beans, Legumes, Nuts, and Whole grains can be a go-to Zinc source.
Copper is essential for skin defence, cell regeneration and maintaining barrier function. Lentils, Nuts, Oilseeds, Avocados are some excellent sources of copper.
Not just this, your overall lifestyle also largely dictates the condition of your skin. Read on to find out some of these lifestyle management tips.
Lifestyle Management tips for healthy skin
The most obvious tip is almost a no-brainer. Good hydration is crucial for skincare. Water is essential for keeping skin supple and moisturised. But how much water one should be consuming during the day is a question that puzzles us all. The answer is simple: drink enough water depending on your age, gender, physical activity, medical conditions, etc.
2. Consuming Low Glycaemic Index Foods
Glycaemic index is a measurement of how quickly a carbohydrate source breaks down into glucose in the body. Slower the release of glucose, the better it is to manage your body weight and blood sugar levels, and it is also great for your skin health. High glycaemic foods like chocolates, cookies, breakfast cereals, or candy can accelerate skin ageing and damage collagen.
3. Avoiding Inflammatory Foods
Acne is the inflammation of the sebaceous glands of the skin. These glands get stimulated by hormones that can be affected by inflammatory foods. Such foods are rich in saturated and hydrogenated fats like margarine. Processed and packaged foods contain high amounts of these harmful fats. They can trigger inflammation in the body, ultimately affecting the skin.
4. Managing Gut Health
The first step to clear and radiant skin is fixing your gut health. Since nutrients are metabolised in the digestive system, inflammatory responses are signals given by the gut. Fermented foods and a diverse diet with fresh fruits, vegetables, and legumes improve the positive bacteria. The probiotics support great digestion, absorption, and simulation of nutrients. Limiting fast foods and being mindful of popping over-the-counter pills can help further manage gut health, and in turn, your skin.
Exercise is the most straightforward and most inexpensive way to reduce puffy skin and get that natural glow. In addition, exercise helps cleanse your skin, boost circulation, manage stress, all of which can show up on your skin. Always exercise without makeup and also make sure to wash your face right after working out.
We are not alien to all of these celebrities talking about their “beauty sleep”. Additionally, a Journal of Clinical and Experimental Dermatology found that people who slept 7 to 9 hours a night had more moist skin. Their skin also protected and healed itself better after being exposed to UV light than those who slept for 5 hours or less. So, fix your sleep schedule if you’re looking to improve your skin and overall health.
There’s no one magic food or superfood that you can have every single day to attain flawless skin. In all honesty, the entire concept of ‘flawless skin’ seems very unrealistic since the skin’s damage: wrinkling, breakouts, or even pigmentation, is all a part of the game. So, various factors govern those, and food can significantly help elevate this only because what you eat is purely under your control. So, bring in those small yet significant lifestyle modifications and see your skin transform for the better.