Your guide to a healthy skin
We have tried everything to deal with our fussy skin, including expensive facials, lotions, antibiotics and other painful procedures. The umpteen cosmetic products designed, from natural extracts to chemical concoctions for the perfect skin were just not enough. It was clearly time to look beyond remedies that were merely skin-deep and get to the root of the matter.
What is a skin type diet? How does it work?
Let us walk through how a diet for healthy skin works.
Certain factors regulate skin characteristics – lipids, the natural moisturizing factor (NMF), sebum, Hyaluronic Acid (HA) and Aquaporin (AQP). Each has a different role to play for your skin.
The NMF is responsible for hydration, desquamation and plasticity of skin. A well-balanced NMF production and secretion would require intake of proteins, lipids and water. Sebum, on the other hand, is responsible for the oil secretion from the sebaceous glands onto the skin – it controls the sheen, texture and elasticity of skin. Here, omega fatty acids, MUFA: PUFA along with astringents keep the sebum in balance.
Similarly, Hyaluronic Acid(HA) hydrates the skin – the absorption, migration and excretion. HA also stimulates collagen and elastin production. A consistent HA production requires antioxidants (vitamins and minerals), amino acids, lipids and polysaccharides.
Finally, aquaporin (AQP) are the channels which transport water and small solutes across cell membranes. Aquaporin maintenance requires ample water, proteins and minerals which help the channels under pressure.
When these factors are not in balance, our skin’s ability to maintain hydration decreases, giving rise to different skin types. It was only in the early 1900’s that the dry, oily, sensitive and combination skin type classifications were recognized.
A healthy skin type diet works from the inside out.
For instance, suppose you have dry skin – your diet would stress on hydration with the right combination of oils and protein to help increase NMF and AQP. Similarly, an oily skin type requires more astringent foods and immune boosters to prevent outbreaks, reduce sebum levels and increase HA on the skin.
Let us discover the best foods for clear skin!
What are the best foods for healthy skin?
Skin that is dry and highly responsive to external stimuli is considered sensitive. Such skin often suffers from stinging, redness and rashes. So, the diet would focus on reducing sensitivity by boosting immunity.
A diet for sensitive skin must include foods rich in fatty acids and antioxidants. Foods with preservatives, artificial colours or flavours must be avoided. A sensitive skin diet should have higher amounts of organic foods than conventional ones to avoid any further inflammatory or agitated reaction from the body.
Pomegranates, blueberries, Indian gooseberry (amla), cherries, omega rich seeds like flax, chia, garden cress are a must. These fresh foods soothe redness and inflammation as well. Foods high in spices, red meat and cholesterol should be kept to a minimum to avoid sudden outbreaks or blemishes on sensitive skin.
If there is little or no oil flow on the surface of the skin, it is considered dry. The skin here is characterized by dullness, rough texture and a number of ridges. A diet for dry skin would work on these areas from the inside.
Eat your water. Fruits and vegetables with high water content will add to your daily water intake and is rich in vitamins and minerals. Incorporating omega-3 fatty acids is essential for such skin as well. Cucumbers, celery, melons, tomato, oil seeds and coconut oil are a few examples of dry skin friendly foods. Avoid foods which would aid dehydration such as alcohol, caffeine and simple sugars. Protein intake should be high to promote cell growth; nuts, eggs, unprocessed meat and full fat dairy products may be incorporated into a diet for dry skin.
When skin is ‘too shiny’, especially in the T-zone, it is called oily skin. This skin type often leads to pimples, black heads, uneven skin colour and overall acne-prone skin. A diet for oily skin aims at reducing sebum levels and decreasing cutaneous bacteria with astringents, immune boosters, and anti-inflammatory agents.
Oily skin type individuals require foods rich in B vitamins and lecithin which predominantly break down fat and help to unclog pores. Processed and deep fried foods which have dalda and other trans/hydrogenated vegetable oils must be avoided – these fats are difficult to break and end up clogging pores. Whole grains, protein & fat-rich foods (nuts, oil seeds, fish) and greens like spinach, asparagus, broccoli, capsicum, gourds etc would do wonders for such skin.
There is no such thing as a ‘normal skin type’, but this type of skin isn’t particularly sensitive, too oily or too dry, hence the name, combination. This skin type simply suggests that you are probably taking care of your skin from the inside already. However, if you have a combination skin type incorporate these foods for healthy skin.
Include probiotics. To maintain healthy and clear skin; probiotics that support our gut microbiome is imperative. These gut bacteria affect our nutrient absorption, genes and even our skin. So, include fiber-rich foods, yogurt and other fermented foods in your diet.
Lay off the sugars. Research has shown that sugars loosen skin elasticity and firmness. Sugars bind with collagen and elastin which increases wrinkles and ‘hasten’ the process of aging.
Don’t drink your calories. Fruit juices and smoothies are high in natural sugars and devitalized. Eat the fruit or vegetable whole, always, to extract all the antioxidants and phytochemicals made available as soon as you bite into fresh organic fruits and veggies.
Eat a balanced meal. Proteins rich foods, omega fatty acid rich foods, and antioxidants will help build strength and immunity, brighten and clarify your skin. Foods like nuts, fish, oil seeds, fruits, berries and a balanced meal is key.
Keep active. Any activity which makes you sweat, will automatically increase circulation in the skin. All the above nutrients once consumed needs to be circulated to each skin cell for optimum usage. Oxygen needs to be supplied and toxic metabolites need to be eliminated to keep the skin clear and well nourished.
While it is possible to fake great skin with make-up, you will have truly radiant skin when you nourish your body from within.
Understanding the effect of food on skin makes us mindful of what we put into our bodies. It’s time to give this a try, not for good skin care but skin care for good.