Skin Care from the Inside Out

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Published: 09th July 2012
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You are what you eat” is a well-known idiom, yet many folks don’t realize how very literal that saying is. What you eat – or don’t eat – has a significant impact on the health and beauty of your skin. Hippocrates, the “father of medicine” admonished us to “let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food,” and that definitely includes the skin. The skin is the body’s largest organ, and if it is not properly nourished, it suffers.

It may be interesting to note that as far back as the ancient Egyptian civilization, humans have made the link between nutrition and healthy skin. Cleopatra was famous for her natural skin rejuvenation regimens, using foods to smooth and exfoliate the skin. Modern science has only confirmed the validity of natural skin care through diet.

Unfortunately, there’s a lot more money in pharmaceuticals and that is where the majority of skin research has been focused. Only recently has science begun to come back around as they’ve seen the wisdom in the practices of our ancestors. Not only have they confirmed the benefits of topical applications of various foods, but they are seeing the even more impressive, yet perfectly logical and straight-forward approach of eating foods that build healthy skin cells.

How does healthy food make healthy skin?

If you’ve ever gone out for a long night of heavy drinking and salty foods, you’ve likely seen the effect on your skin the following morning. The skin around your eyes is puffy and your face might feel tight and dry. While the effects of a healthy diet may not be quite as drastic as that, the benefits are there and they do show over time.

The thing is, skin cells are formed deep in the dermis, many layers into the skin. Capillaries throughout the dermis provide oxygen and nutrients to the newly-forming cells. But the body can only feed your cells off of what you feed it. When you are providing your body with plenty of nutrition, your cells grow strong and healthy. When nutrition is slow in coming, the cells grow weak – and thus, the skin isn’t as strong, healthy or vibrant as it should be.

A healthy diet that includes some of the following anti-aging foods can produce skin that is positively glowing. It can slow signs of aging and help the skin repair itself at a faster rate. Your skin will be noticeably firmer, smoother, and clear of breakouts.

So let’s take a look at some foods that contribute to the healthy, glowing complexion we’re all after. In addition, we’ll discuss some foods that are best avoided.
Foods that contribute to vibrant skin

    • Water

Your body mass contains around 40 liters of water. That’s around 57 percent of an average person’s weight! Obviously, water is extremely important for overall health, but especially for healthy skin. Staying well hydrated helps your body to flush out toxins that are present in the skin; allowing skin cells to work at optimal levels.

Think of it this way: when your skin cells are sufficiently hydrated, they are plump, full and firm. When they are dehydrated, they shrivel – sort of like a raisin – losing firmness and texture.

Drinking plenty of water is important for your overall health. Even more important than that though, is eating plenty of water-rich fruits and vegetables. Watermelon, cucumbers, cantaloupe, and bell peppers all contain loads of water and help keep your skin well hydrated.

    • Fruits and vegetables

Not only do fruits and vegetable contain water, they are also packed full of enzymes that contribute to healthy skin cells. It’s best to eat your fruits and veggies raw as much as possible, as cooking will destroy those delicate enzymes. While cooked vegetables are still healthy, they may not do much for your skin.

For truly vibrant, healthy skin, eat at least one fresh, raw salad daily. Toss in loads of lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, peppers, and any other vegetable you enjoy. This power-packed meal (or side dish, if you prefer), is nutrient dense and gives your skin the enzymes and minerals needed to grow healthy new cells.

    • Whole grains

In order for your body to properly absorb the nutrients you’re taking in, your digestive system needs to be in top form. A healthy digestive system needs to be swept and scrubbed clean, and this is where whole grains – or more specifically, fiber – comes into play. The fiber in whole grains like brown rice, whole wheat bread and pasta scrub through your digestive system, cleaning your intestines and making way for optimum nutrient absorption.

    • Antioxidants

Antioxidant-rich foods are major skin boosters, no matter what condition your skin is in. The cells in our bodies work hard to keep us healthy, fight off infection, and provide us with energy; however, our cells produce a toxic byproduct of all their work: free radicals. When we overload our bodies with toxins from unhealthy lifestyle choices like poor diet or smoking, even more free radicals are produced. Our environment also contributes to this due to pollution and UVA/BVA rays.

Antioxidants neutralize those free radicals and prevent them from causing further damage. Not only does the effect of free radicals show on the skin, but they are also a widely-acknowledged factor in many serious diseases.

Your body needs antioxidants in the form of vitamins A, C, and E, as well as the mineral zinc. The best way to get these antioxidants your body needs is by eating a diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains.

Foods that damage and dry your skin

Just as natural, unrefined foods contribute to healthy skin, certain elements of our diet have just the opposite effect. The regular consumption of refined, processed sugary and starchy foods so common to our culture have been proven contributors to the development of acne. Things like soda, chips, cakes and candy can cause acne outbreaks or worsen an existing condition.

Other foods damage the skin by drying it out. Some of these include:

    • Alcohol

Alcohol is a well-known diuretic – which means that it makes you urinate frequently. All those trips to the bathroom cause you to lose a lot more fluid than normal, and if that water isn’t replenished, the skin (as well as the rest of the body) suffers the consequences.

If you’re on your way out to the bar, make sure you drink a glass of water for ever alcoholic beverage you consume. This will make sure that any lost fluids are replaced right away and will keep your skin well-hydrated. It may just keep you from a hangover the next day as well.

    • Caffeine

Caffeine is also a mild diuretic, and while its effects on the body aren’t as strong as those of alcohol, it’s good to be aware of its effects. The main point to remember here is that your body needs to stay hydrated if you want to have healthy, clear, vibrant skin. Whatever comes out needs to be put back in, so focus on a healthy diet, rich in antioxidants and plenty of water.
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