The saying “You are what you eat” rings true when we look at how to achieve healthier skin. With the skin being the largest organ in our body, it should come as no surprise that a large part of what we eat shows up on our skin.
A well-balanced diet results in supple, fresh and glowing skin. On the other hand, a diet that regularly includes junk food or takeaways could be the reason why skin looks sallow and dull. Healthy skin not only looks good, it works better too. Skin that is healthy will take less time to heal from cuts and bruises, bringing you back to tip top condition in no time.
Here’s how you can eat your way to gorgeous skin:
Healthy fats are your friend
We were once told to stay away from fats of all types, and many of us still view anything that contains fat as evil. But new research is starting to provide this theory false. Not all fats are created equal – healthy fats like olive, coconut or avocado oil are in fact essential for a balanced diet. Having enough fat in your body is also important for healthy hair and skin. When your body doesn’t get enough fat, it can cause dull, dry hair and skin.
Fats help our body absorb fat-soluble vitamins such as Vitamins A, D, E and K – all of which are essential to our health. A lack of body fat can even result in a vitamin deficiency. Other sources of healthy fats include eggs, nuts and fatty fish.
Essential fatty acids are essential for great skin
Like the name suggests, essential fatty acids (EFAs) are essential to our health and in the normal function of our skin. When you have a deficiency in EFAs, it could result in dry skin – mainly in the form of dermatitis (scaling and dryness of skin) and increased water loss from your skin. Because our body is unable to create essential fatty acids, they need to be obtained from our diet in regular doses to ensure proper functioning.
There are 2 types of EFAs – Omega-6 and Omega-3 and can be introduced into our body through diet and topical application. Top sources of essential fatty acids can be found in fatty fish such as mackerel, herring and salmon. Vegetarian-friendly options include flaxseed, walnuts, leafy greens (broccoli, spinach, kale), sunflower oil and evening primrose oil.
Eat a rainbow
You may be familiar with the recommendation of getting 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, but this recommendation has now been updated. Instead, we should try to eat at least 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, in a variety of colours.
The rainbow guideline refers to the five main colours found in fruits and vegetables – red, purple/blue, orange/yellow, green and white/brown. The colour is due to phytochemical compounds found in fruits and vegetables, and they signify the different type of nutrients available. A medley of natural colours in your diet will allow your body to absorb an optimum range of vitamins, nutrients and minerals – paving the way for gorgeous-looking skin.
Get enough H2O
When you realise that our body is made up of over 70% water, it’s easy to understand why drinking enough water is crucial to our skin’s health. Water can help to flush out toxins that build up in our body, in the form of sweat or urine. But when your body is dehydrated, this system doesn’t work so well. So aim to drink at least 8 glasses of water daily as our body’s ability to flush out toxins effectively is important for glowing skin.
If drinking plain water is just too plain on your taste buds, try naturally infused water instead. A slice or two of lemon might just do the trick. Or add cucumbers and mint for a refreshing spin on water. Other combinations to try out include adding berries, watermelon or oranges to water and letting it sit for an hour before drinking.
Tomatoes as sunscreen
Lycopene, an antioxidant and carotenoid found in plants, has been shown to provide protection against damage from harmful UV rays. On top of that, lycopene is also thought to help prevent cancer and heart disease. Tomatoes, especially cooked tomatoes, contain a large amount of lycopene.
So instead of turning red like a tomato while outdoors, make sure you load up on cooked tomatoes to help protect your skin against sunburns. Other sources of lycopene include guava, watermelon and papaya – all of which are easily sourced at our local wet markets. But don’t count on your diet as the only source of sun protection, remember to always apply sunscreen when staying out in the sun.
In summary, a healthy balanced diet is the key to great skin. However, do not expect results overnight. It takes an average of 27 days for your skin to regenerate, making visible results in 4 to 6 weeks a more realistic goal.