by Sheila Glazer
Raise your hand if you care about the look of your skin. I’m confident everyone reading this will probably raise their hand—after all, our skin is the first thing people see. We’re judged about the state of our health by the look of our skin. Just like every other bodily symptom we experience, we wrongly turn to supplements or products to fix our problems. However, our skin health is, in fact, a reflection of our current health and lifestyle. Taking a supplement or using the most expensive moisturizer on the market won’t fix your diet and lifestyle (though one can dream).
While there is not one best secret to glowing and ageless skin that everyone should follow, there are several key recommendations that are often overlooked. Integrative health looks at the whole person in regard to skin health, which means considering all the possible elements that influence our outer complexion. We can’t control all of these factors, like our genes or age, but we can control others.
Environmental factors affecting skin health which you can control:
Your daily skin routine
Certain health conditions
Your nutritional status impacts your skin’s structure and function. A diet lacking in essential nutrients and antioxidants is often the culprit for several health issues, including skin health. The nutrients and food sources listed below are particularly important for healing and cell turnover to keep your skin glowing and hydrated:
Vitamin A – Dark green and yellow/orange vegetables and fruits such as leafy greens, green herbs (parsley, cilantro, etc.), red and yellow peppers, mangoes, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, apricots
Zinc – Oysters, Alaskan king crab, lobster, pork chops, nuts, seeds, beans
Copper – Oysters, sesame seeds, mushrooms, potatoes, nuts, seeds, Dungeness crab, dark chocolate (at least 69 percent cacao), tofu, avocado
Vitamin C – Citrus fruits, tomatoes, potatoes, broccoli, sweet bell peppers, strawberries
Vitamin E – Wheat germ, nuts, seeds, vegetable oils (flax oil, hemp oil, wheat germ oil, etc.), green leafy veggies
Biotin – Egg yolks, fish, milk, cauliflower, nuts, legumes
Selenium – Meats, seafood (cod, shrimp, salmon, tuna), nuts (brazil nuts contain 544 mcg per 1 oz. or 6 to 8 nuts), whole grains (whole oats, quinoa, millet, farro, brown rice)
Nitric Oxide – Leafy greens, beets, green herbs, rhubarb, dark chocolate (at least 69 percent cacao), citrus, pomegranates, walnuts, watermelon
Collagen – Our bodies make collagen through the amino acids we especially get from protein-rich foods, including eggs, meat, seafood, legumes (beans and lentils), nuts, seeds and dark leafy greens. We can get plenty of collagen through a well-balanced diet, but keep in mind your diet should also include enough vitamin C, zinc and copper, a few nutrients which are needed for proper production of collagen in the body.
Fats – The healthiest fats are poly- and monounsaturated fatty acids. Best sources of fats include nuts, seeds, avocados, olives, seafood (like salmon, sardines, trout, tuna), as well as the oils from some of these foods.
Note the types of foods listed above—nutrient-dense and whole. People tend to focus on the wrong areas, turning to supplements, fancy foods, cutting out entire food groups, meal prepping and juice cleanses. Think minimalism. An overall diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seafood, legumes, nuts and seeds is also the simplest means to reach your health goals.
Although highly processed and packaged foods may contain some of these skin nutrients, they also contain a plethora of other ingredients not ideal for a glowing complexion (think added sugars, refined grains, food additives, chemicals and so on). Also note, you do not need extra vitamins and minerals for proper health; the goal is merely to correct deficiencies and consume needed nutrients through food, not supplements.
How do you know if your diet is up to par? Ask yourself, does your overall diet resemble a well-balanced intake of a variety of nutrient-dense whole foods like the list above or are you relying a little too much on dietary supplements? Just remember, adding extra supplements or skincare products to a nutrient-poor diet won’t fix your health issues.
Sheila Glazer is the registered dietitian and founder of Wellness Living and Nutrition, in Fort Lauderdale, a nutrition private practice that focuses on integrative and functional wellness to fix the root cause of health conditions. For more information and appointments, call 561-289-5682.