10 Factors That Influence Skin: 4. Diet
You really are what you eat (and drink). What we consume day in and day out become the building blocks our body has to work with to repair, function, and create anew.
Just as diet has the direct ability to cause inflammation, excess weight gain, and premature aging; it also has the incredible power to support and nourish a healthy, well-functioning body that can serve us well into advanced age.
Our skin is the largest outward reflection of our internal state. If you are looking for skin that is healthy, acne-free, and clear of inflammatory conditions, what you eat will have a huge influence.
Let’s be clear; there is no one magic food or supplement that is going to change your life and overhaul your skin on its own. What you eat and drink will have a cumulative effect. Food choices are a balancing act that happens every day. Having said that, let’s take a look at some of the most influential foods that can either help or hinder your skin…
Sugar earns my top place for biggest negative impact on skin. Sad news I know. There is a great deal of peer-reviewed research now on how sugar affects the skin (which I encourage you to check out if your are interested).
The two main mechanisms are:
1) Inflammation and
Glycation occurs when the sugar molecules in your bloodstream bind to proteins to form damaging molecules called Advanced Glycation End Products (appropriately AGEs for short).
Collagen and elastin, the two protein fibers that keep your skin firm and elastic, are some of the most vulnerable to AGEs which is why sugar consumption contributes to wrinkles and sagging. As if that weren’t enough, AGEs also deactivate your body’s natural antioxidant enzymes, which leaves you more susceptible to sun damage — one of the primary causes of skin aging.
Remember that sugar isn’t just the white granulated sweetener. Honey, maple syrup, dates, fruit, alcohol and simple starches that quickly break down into glucose (such as bread, rice, pasta etc.) also produce AGEs.
For healthy skin, sugar in all its forms should be a very low part of your diet. I recommend picking your sugars consciously and moderately. For example, many fruits such as berries have a low glycemic load and many redeeming benefits that make them a worthy inclusion in your diet. Pure monk fruit powder also makes for a great sweetener that will not affect your blood sugar levels.
Collagen and Gelatin
My favourite skin nourishing foods are those rich in collagen and gelatin. Bone broth is the perfect example of this category. You can read more about it and find a recipe here. Not only is bone broth rich in the amino acids required to build collagen, but it also helps repair the villi in the gut lining for better nutrient absorption and reduction inflammation.
You can find clean gelatin powder such as Great Lakes bovine gelatin to make delicious homemade gummies, or take hydrolyzed collagen as a supplement. Gelatin and hydrolyzed collagen are bioavailable through the gut and provide building blocks to nourish your hair, skin, nails and joints. Vitamin C is used to convert the amino acids in gelatin into the forms required to build collagen so I recommend consuming it with foods high in vitamin C.
Healthy fats are essential for healthy skin, particularly those high in Omega 3 fatty acids. Lipids form a large portion of skin’s cellular structure and responsible for keeping the skin moist, plump, and maintaining a healthy skin barrier to ward off infection and damage.
As we age, diminishing fat pads in the face lead to sagging and creasing. Though you cannot spot-reduce or gain weight, supplying the body with healthy fats provides it with valuable resources to maintain its integrity and look and function well. Having enough healthy fats in the diet is also crucial for hormone health. Hormone balance impacts the skin as imbalance can lead to acne, complications with menopause, and thyroid disorders among other issues.
Examples of healthy fats include (but are not limit to): avocados, coconut oil, fish and fish oils, nuts, seeds, and olive oil.
In general, a diet that supports healthy skin and prevent premature aging consists of: tons of vegetables (predominantly cooked for best digestion), plentiful healthy fats, high-quality protein (including fish and animal protein), low to moderate amount of fruit, and low grains. As with everything, the best diet will vary slightly based on individual needs.
For a customized consultation regarding how to best support your skin, you can book an appointment with Christina Cecconi at Acubalance Wellness Centre: 604.678.8600