TrimDownClub, February 27, 2013
A woman’s facial skin not only reflects her mood, but also her health. Many women invest a lot of effort and expense in – nurturing their skin to make it look young and fresh. There’s an entire industry revolving around this desire to maintain a youthful and beautiful appearance. But before we rush to stock our shelves with creams and cosmetics, we should stop and check our “inner” beauty.
Many studies in recent years have revealed that the look and quality of our skin first results from our lifestyles and what we put in our bodies, including our dietary habits – perhaps more so than the products we use so meticulously.
Our skin is affected by various processes, both internal and external, including many factors to which we are exposed during the day, and it is important to pay attention to the main ones.
First of all, the wheels of time leave their mark on our face. The rate of skin cell division slows, and skin loses its elasticity and ability to heal wounds and defects that accumulate as a function of age, causing wrinkles and skin blotches.
Second, due to both acute and cumulative sun exposure, the body creates free radicals that harm the skin tissue and adversely affect the production of the protein collagen, which gives the skin its flexible form and smoothness. From this point, the road to a stiff and droopy complexion isn’t far. Even exposure to air pollution and cigarette smoke accelerate the skin’s aging, and cause the creation of free radicals that bring on oxidation and cell deterioration.
There’s no doubt that our emotional state also has a direct effect on the skin cells’ health. Mental stress, pressure, and anxiety make it difficult for the digestive system to function, leading to a buildup of toxins in the body cells, and when the skin cells aren’t able to drain them out, symptoms will start showing on the external skin layer.
In addition, our diet has a very strong and crucial impact on our health in general and our facial skin in particular. What we put into our bodies will soon be reflected in our skin’s appearance. Of course, you can’t ignore genetic components, and time can’t be stopped to live in a utopian, sterile environment.
Yet even so, the signs of time can definitely be slowed down, minimizing damage and helping maintain fresh and healthy skin. The secret lies first and foremost in a balanced diet, which takes into consideration our lifestyle, both mental and physiological components.
In recent studies, it was found that consuming antioxidant foods is crucial to our skin’s health and slows its aging rate.
These studies show that vitamins, minerals, and plant components – known as photochemicals – help the body to overcome free radicals and their harmful activity, and contribute to the protection of collagen fibers in our skin. The most prominent of these nutrients:
• Vitamin A is essential for normal differentiation of skin cells and can be found in eggs, liver, and whole milk. Carotenoids, also known as “pre-vitamin A,” are also highly protective, especially in combination with extra-virgin olive oil. These are found in yellow, orange, and red fruits and vegetables.
• Vitamin C is a critical component in the creation of collagen, and thus helps maintain the structure and elasticity of the skin, the ability to repair sun damage, inhibit abnormal pigmentation, and heal wounds. You can obtain this vitamin through citrus fruits, strawberries, kiwi, tomatoes, potatoes, and green vegetables, particularly broccoli.
• Vitamin E is essential for maintaining proper structure and moisture of the skin cells, and to prevent inflammation and oxidative damage, including from the sun and from pollution. You can find this vitamin in walnuts, almonds, peanuts, seeds, vegetable oils, avocados, olives, and spinach.
• Chromium is a mineral that helps balance blood sugar, thereby protecting the collagen in skin against harm from excessive blood glucose levels. It is used to treat acne and skin infections, and assists in maintaining proper vitamin A metabolism. You can obtain it through meat, whole grains, and dairy products.
• Selenium serves as an important antioxidant, helping to neutralize environmental toxins, protects against radiation, improves blood supply and thereby maintains the tissues flexibility, protects vitamin E and contributes to its operations. Selenium is found in nuts, grains, chicken, tuna, eggs, wheat germ, onion and garlic.
• Zinc acts as an antioxidant, associated with growth processes and tissue regeneration, assists in the production of proteins, allows better utilization of vitamin A, and encourages skin healing; it is used medically to heal wounds and acne,. This mineral is found in whole grains, meat, legumes and seeds
• Unsaturated Fatty Acids, including omega-3 and omega-6, are important for building skin-cell shells, improving flexibility and accelerating rejuvenation, and prevent dryness, redness, and scales by contributing to skin moisture. You can find unsaturated fatty acids in foods such as fatty fish, flaxseed, chia seeds, almonds, walnuts, leafy greens, canola oil, tahini, avocados, and spinach.
• Phytochemicals, including flavonoids and polyphenols, act as antioxidants and provide protection against skin damage from pollution and sun overexposure. They have been observed to have synergistic effects with one another and with vitamins and minerals. They include those from green tea (epigallocatechin gallate [EGCG]), citrus peel (d-limonene), proanthocyanidins and polylphenols from grape seeds and red wine (resveratrol, proanthocyanidins from seeds), cocoa polyphenols (similar to tea polyphenols), and herbs, spices, and other seasonings, including rosemary, oregano, thyme, and garlic.
In most cases, you can obtain adequate amounts of all the required food components for the skin through a balanced diet. The traditional Mediterranean diet is considered the ‘gold standard’ here. If you’re taking supplements, it is very important to select those with standardized and proportionate compositions to prevent imbalance and toxicities.
Data analyzed in a study conducted in the United States, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Cosgrove MC et al. 2007 Oct; 86(4):1225-31), revealed that a proper diet can improve the skin’s appearance and slow symptoms of aging. Researchers examined the effect of nutrition on the skin’s aging among 4,025 women between the ages of 40-74 years, who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Survey (NHANES), Dietary intake and laboratory data from this survey were examined and correlated to the condition of participants’ skin. Old-looking skin was defined as having a wrinkled, loose, and dry appearance. Analysis revealed dramatic results, whereby high intake of vitamin C and unsaturated fats, along with a decrease in total fat and carbohydrates, was associated with improvements in the skin’s appearance and slowing of signs of aging. The researchers’ conclusion was that a balanced diet has a key role in the skin’s appearance and health.
Along with maintenance of a proper diet, we must maintain a drinking regime of at least 6-8 8-oz glasses of water (about 1.5-2 liters) per day, since water is essential for the skin’s health and a healthy appearance. Water allows effective secretion of toxins, contributes to the proper moisture balance in tissues and muscles, and assists in blood flow.
Another important contributor to the skin’s appearance, as well as to our physical and mental health, lies in regular exercise, which helps to discharge toxins from the body and improves blood flow, along with decreasing stress levels and releasing endorphins, which improve our mood.
In conclusion, our skin reflects our physical and mental states. If we maintain good nutritional habits – combining essential food components and sufficient water – and exercise regularly, keep our skin clean and groomed, and avoid overexposure to sun and pollution, we can achieve a healthy, radiant facial look that reflects improved health.