Healthy Skin from Healthy Foods
Healthy glowing skin is dependent on good nutrition, exercise and rest (…snooze…)
Statements like this become wallpaper in our world that don’t inspire or motivate us to want to know more for our own good. In today’s culture of health and vanity, we respond more easily to claims like “Clear Skin!” “Look younger!” “Erase wrinkles!” “Tighten sagging skin!”
These great ideas are followed by the latest miracle cream, aggressive prescriptions, or expensive medical procedure.
Improving or maintaining skin health appeals to all of us but let’s be more motivated to seek a complementary approach that starts from within. It won’t be instant gratification, but when you understand the connection of healthy foods and good gut health, it’s only natural your body’s largest organ (SKIN) reaps the benefits too.
Adopting a nutrient-dense, whole foods lifestyle can affect the appearance of skin aging, acne and other skin disorders. Consider the concept of eating whole foods versus supplements when possible. Nutrients are most potent when they come from foods that are accompanied by minerals and antioxidants and can be more bioavailable.
In order to associate skin health benefits to healthy foods, let’s first know a little about your body’s largest organ and some key terms:
Your skin has 3 main layers: epidermis (outer), dermis (second) and subcutaneous. This article will focus is on the second layer.
- Dermis: The dermis is called the “true skin” because it is the layer of skin that is completely alive. It functions as the skin’s main support structure composed of connective tissues. These connective tissues are composed of collagen protein and elastin fibers.
- Collagen: a strong protein substance that gives strength and structure to the skin.
- Elastin: a fibrous protein that forms elastic tissue and helps prevent sagging.
- Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) – amino sugars (a sugar linked with a protein): Together with water, they create a fluid that fills the space between the collagen and elastin fibers in the dermis, giving it turgidity, aka “swollen” characteristic (versus flaccid.) The key thing to know about GAGs is that they are water binding substances, attracting water to the dermis.
- Hylauronic Acid: a glycosaminoglycan (GAG) that exists in the dermis layer of the skin. It can hold 1,000 times it molecular weight in water, which is why it is such a popular hydrating ingredient in skincare.
There are upwards of 13 important Vitamins and Minerals associated with skin health. We will focus on 3 minerals that have a direct effect on the “true skin” (dermis) and the tasty foods where you can find them.
Needed to maintain the elasticity and suppleness of skin.
One of the most important functions of selenium is as a component of glutathione. Glutathione is one of the major antioxidants of the body that protects against cellular damage from the free radicals that cause inflammation, aging and promote skin cancer.
In addition, selenium along with Vitamin E, play complementary roles in reducing oxidative stress and are most likely to improve acne.
The richest sources of selenium are organ meats, seafood and Brazil nuts. Just 2 Brazil nuts per day can provide sufficient amounts. Other good choices are liver, beef, turkey, lamb, cod, tuna, halibut, sardines and salmon.
Silica is important for maintaining the health of connective tissue and collagen formation, skin elasticity and wound healing. All of which contribute to maintaining tight, wrinkle free skin and slowing signs of aging.
Silica is also involved with the formation of hyaluronic acid, which improves the skin’s hydration and add volume to the fluid surrounding collagen and elastin.
Natural sources of silica: leeks, green beans, garbanzo beans, strawberries, cucumber, mango, celery, asparagus and rhubarb. Silica can also be found in certain types of water, such as Fiji brand water, which contains high levels due to the leaching of water-soluble silica from volcanic rock.
Sulfur is a necessary component for collagen synthesis, which gives skin structure and strength, resulting in keeping the skin looking firm. The breakdown or insufficient production of collagen as we age is a major factor in the development of wrinkles.
Sulfur is also involved in the antioxidant glutathione, helping prevent damage caused by free radicals. Overall helps slow visible signs of aging.
Sulfur can be found in: egg yolks, meat, poultry, fish, garlic, onions, brussel sprouts, asparagus, kale. Fermentation may make sulfur more bioavailable, so foods like sauerkraut are excellent sources of sulfur.
Even though we’ve only covered 3 minerals here, they all have a direct effect on the dermis layer of your skin where “Clear Skin!” “Look younger!” “Erase wrinkles!” “Tighten sagging skin!” can be supported with healthy foods.
We hear a lot about nutrition and healthy gut, but when you also start to learn about the actual science of skin, it opens up another aspect of holistic health that is truly inspiring. In my profession I sometimes hear people refer to esthetics as “all that stuff” (aka fluff) not understanding there is real science and deep connection to our culture of health and vanity.
Kat Shaw is a licensed Esthetician and owner of Craft Estética located at 17 Ash Street in Westbrook. Craft Estética offers a Himalayan Salt Room, which may be used in single or multiple sessions or booked privately for groups of up to 6 people. Offering a modern fusion of science, artistry and the highest grade medical and organic products available allows the staff at Craft Estética to focus on health-centered beauty and well- being for every client at every visit. For more information, visit: www.craftestetica.com or www.mainesaltroom.com or call (207) 854-0602.