I truly believe in healing from within; what you eat will not only affect how you feel but how you look. I know from experience that food plays a key role in my acne breakouts and general complexion.
If you want brighter, clearer and more radiant skin (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?) then incorporate these foods into your daily diet and within a few weeks you’ll be glowing like nobody’s business.
1) Healthy Fats
Let’s get one thing straight, fat does not make you fat. Your body needs healthy fats for energy and cell growth. Moreover, the right kinds of fat will help you build a lean body with enviable skin.
I know, I know another post on how great avocados are. But guys, they are. Although they may be high in fat, it is the healthiest kind: monounsaturated. This creamy fruit is extremely nutrient dense containing around 20 vitamins and minerals per serving, including vitamin E (for healthy skin and hair), vitamin C (needed to form collagen and repair damaged tissue), copper (which contributes to synthesis of connective tissue), the carotenoid lutein (that contributes to healthy skin and eyes).
Like all fruit and vegetables, avocados are a great source of antioxidants (free radical fighters). They contain beta-carotene lutein, cancer fighting lycopene, selenium, vitamin A and vitamin E. Moreover, avocados increase your body’s ability to absorb antioxidants from other foods.
And if that’s not enough, you can mash them up and paste them on your face as a nourishing DIY face mask.
Avocado oil, flax oil, walnut oil, olive oil and my (and my dog’s) favourite, coconut oil.
By weight coconut oil has the least calories of all oils. Although it is a saturated fat, biochemically it is a medium chain fatty acid which means it can be more easily digested. It is an oil that can withstand high cooking temperatures without turning carcinogenic. Both internally and externally coconut oil fights inflammation and has antimicrobial properties that help balance candida/fungal sources that can lead to skin issues.
It is not just sunshine that gives inhabitants of the Mediterranean glowing skin and healthy hearts, its extra virgin olive oil! This monounsaturated fat is high in vitamin A and E which protects skin against harmful free radicals. It is better to buy extra virgin olive oil rather than refined as it contains more anti oxidants. This oil can withstand fairly high temperatures but shouldn’t be used for deep frying.
I have already spoken about the benefits of avocados; their oil is much like olive oil and can be used for cooking or dressing food.
Nut/seed oils like flax and walnut are best reserved for dressings as they have a very low smoke point (temperature at which an oil begins to burn). Flax oil is a good source of alpha-linoleic acid (ALA), one of three omega-3 fatty acids and walnut oil has phytonutrients which provide selenium, phosphorous, magnesium, zinc, iron, and calcium.
Omega 3 is an essential fatty acid (EFA), so called because it is needed by the body but cannot be manufactured in the body; it must be obtained via diet.
This EFA is a potent anti inflammatory and skin moisturising agent. Studies have also found that those who have diets rich in omega 3’s experience less visible signs of ageing in their skin. A diet lacking in omega 3’s leaves the skin lack lustre, more permeable and susceptible to disease and infection.
Foods rich in omega 3’s include: oily fish (baked/boiled/grilled is best), flax oil, chia seeds, walnuts, soy beans and spinach.
If you struggle to regularly eat these foods, I suggest taking a supplement so you don’t miss out on the omega 3 magic.
2) Anti Inflammatory Foods
Anti-inflammatory foods are low in sugar and saturated fat which are common causes of inflammation.
Fruit & Vegetables
It goes without saying that you should be eating lots of fruit and vegetables as they are packed full of skin loving vitamins and minerals.
Leafy greens like spinach, chard, bok choy and kale are super sources of vitamin E which fight pro-inflammatory molecules called cytokines.
Studies have shown that pungent vegetables like onions and garlic mimic anti-inflammatory pain medications like Ibuprofen by turning off pathways that lead to inflammation.
Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring, trout and tuna are rich in omega 3’s. As I mentioned above, omega 3 rich foods are great for reducing inflammation and promoting glowing skin.
Unlike their refined relatives (white bread/rice/pasta/cereal), whole grains have a high fibre content. The fibre has been shown to reduced levels of C-reactive protein which is an indicator of inflammation, plus whole grains contain less sugar than refined grains.
Herbs and Spices
For thousands of years herbs and spices such as: turmeric, cayenne, ginger , cinnamon, rosemary, thyme, cloves and sage have been utilised in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for their anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties.
Compounds like curcumin in turmeric (which dramatically reduces inflammation, in fact it has been shown to inhibit the growth of cancerous tumours), capsaicin in cayenne pepper, gingerols in ginger, cinnamaldehyde in cinnamon, rosmarinic acid in rosemary, luteolin and rosmarinic acid in thyme, eugenol in cloves and carnosic acid in sage provide strong anti-inflammatory effects beneficial for both gut and skin health.
Chocolate and Wine
Yaaas. Good news folks dark chocolate, or even better raw cacao, and red wine contain anti inflammatory beneficial phytonutrients called flavanols. Flavanols also aid circulation, and a healthy supply of nutrient rich blood is essential for a glowing complexion. Sadly, unlike vegetables, herbs and spices, you need to practice portion control with chocolate and wine.
An adequately hydrated body is better able to flush out toxins; a dehydrated body is far more susceptible to disease.
Bloating is actually made better by drinking plain water, water with lemon/lime/cucumber or a cleansing cup of herbal tea such as peppermint tea. Your body needs to flush out the source of inflammation and heal.
So there you have it, incorporate these pro glow foods into your daily diet and watch your skin light up like Christmas tree.
Having said that, it is important to note that the upper layer of skin is pushed up from deep down in the dermis and new skin cells can take a few weeks to reach the surface, therefore it may take a few weeks for you to see a noticeable positive change in your skin when you alter your diet.
But like they say, ‘patience is a virtue’.
Now glow forth & shine bright. x