Everyone wants healthier, more beautiful skin. That’s why the average Aussie woman spends about $300 a month on beauty products – and washes, exfoliants, moisturisers and serums are a big part of that.
It’s expensive, and, in many cases, a waste of money. A good skincare routine is important, but it doesn’t address the main cause behind lines, wrinkles, sun damage and acne: good nutrition.
Consuming the right nutrients means healthy, hydrated skin that uses natural antioxidants to protect you from sun-related damage, keeping you looking younger for longer. The result? You’ll look and feel better, and you can use your skincare products to optimise and protect your skin, rather than compensating for a lack of good nutrition.
In this article, we’re going to walk you through the role nutrients play in skin health, and give you eight foods you can start eating to look and feel healthier than ever.
Let’s get into it.
The Best Nutrients for Healthy Skin
As your body’s largest organ, and the one with the most exposure to the environment, your skin requires a unique blend of nutrients to keep it healthy and glowing.
Protein is essential for every organ in your body, and your skin is no different. Structural proteins like collagen, keratin and elastin are the building blocks of your skin, so getting enough of them is key. Amino acids like glutamine, cysteine, glycine and lysine also play a significant role in skin health.
In its dietary forms, vitamin A is known as retinol and retinyl ester (retinoids) . Both retinoids help normalise your skin by regulating the expression of keratin (the protein that forms the outer layer of your skin) . This helps control skin conditions like hyperkeratinisation, acne, psoriasis and ichthyosis .
Dietary vitamin C plays a number of roles in your skin’s health. It helps promote collagen formation, prevent oxidisation (oxidisation can cause lines, wrinkles, and even skin cancer), decrease melanin synthesis (helpful for conditions like age spots), enhance the formation of the stratum corneum (the outermost layer of your skin), support wound healing, and modulate gene expression (which can help prevent melanomas) .
Vitamin E is an antioxidant, which means it helps protects our skin from oxidisation. It can help prevent and treat a number of conditions, including skin ulcers, yellow nail syndrome, and vibration disease . It also supports collagen synthesis and wound healing, and can help prevent melanomas .
Zinc is essential for keratinocytes, the cells that make up the stratum corneum. Specifically, it assists with wound healing, helps keratinocytes survive longer, and acts as an anti-inflammatory .
Dietary selenium is used by cells to reduce oxidisation and synthesise and repair DNA. It also helps with proper keratinocyte function, skin development, and wound healing, and may prevent or treat certain skin conditions and melanomas .
Omega-3 and -6 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids are classes of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). In other words, they’re a good type of fat that you need to include in your diet (although you need to have a good balance of both – too much omega-6s can cause inflammation).
Omega-6s are essential for your stratum corneum – they help form a protective matrix that keeps your keratinocytes safe . Without enough omega-6 fatty acids, your skin will look older, and may become susceptible to conditions like dermatitis .
Omega-3 fatty acids help control how your epidermis creates immune responses, which may help improve your body’s response to conditions like skin cancer and lupus .
Top 8 Foods for Healthier, More Lustrous Skin
Now we know the main nutrients our skin needs to stay healthy, let’s take a look at how we can get more of those nutrients through our diet.
We’ve put together a list of our eight favourite foods for healthier skin that looks great (plus a cheeky bonus), including AdVital-fortified recipes to help you use them in the kitchen.
Salmon and Other Fatty Fish
High In: Protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, and zinc
Great For: Keeping your skin looking young and wrinkle-free
We already know how important omega-3 fatty acids are for healthy skin. Like omega-6s, omega-3s can’t be synthesised by our bodies (we need to consume them as part of our diet), but, unlike omega-6s, omega-3s aren’t especially common in most Western diets.
The solution? Fatty fish. The best of the bunch is salmon, which has better pound-for-pound nutrition than almost any other common fish. It’s got great lean protein, and it’s also high in a carotenoid called astaxanthin (also found in lobsters, shrimp and crayfish). Astaxanthin can really help keep your skin looking healthy – studies have shown that it can lighten hyperpigmentation, reduce sun-related aging, and slow wrinkle formation .
High In: Vitamin E and vitamin C
Great For: Keeping your skin looking young and protected from the sun
You probably already know that avocados have a bunch of health benefits. They’ve been touted as a gourmet health snack for years, manifesting smashed on toast and as tasty additions to smoothies.
But did you know that those health benefits include younger, better-protected skin? Avos are loaded with a suite of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, C, E, K, B2, B3, B5, B6 and B9, and the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin . Avocado oil is also packed with healthy fats.
Impressed? You should be. Studies show that avocado’s carotenoids are highly bioavailable, which means your body can absorb them easily and use them to shield your skin from sun damage . A higher intake of healthy fats, like those in avocados, has also been associated with better skin elasticity .
High In: Beta-carotene (which can be converted to vitamin A) and vitamin C
Great For: Keeping your skin protected from the sun
Another trendy superfood, sweet potatoes have populated the mainstream café scene as a healthier alternative to potato chips. Their rich orange colour makes them a striking addition to meals – and it comes from beta-carotene, a type of carotenoid that your body can convert to vitamin A.
Sweet potatoes are also high in vitamin C and anthocyanin, an antioxidant which may help protect your skin from sun damage .
Kale and Other Green Leafy Vegetables
High In: Vitamin A, Vitamin E, and vitamin C
Great For: Keeping your skin looking young and brightening dark spots
It’s no surprise that kale, spinach, and other leafy greens made this list. In addition to high levels of iron (always valuable for vegan diets), these vegetables are renowned for pretty impressive nutrient profiles rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals.
The standouts: vitamins A, C, E and K, which, when combined with carotenoids like lutein, can have great effects on your skin’s youthfulness and overall health.
High In: Beta-carotene, vitamin E, and vitamin C
Great For: Keeping your skin looking young and protected from the sun
Taking vitamin C pills to fight the flu? Have a capsicum instead. The red and yellow varieties of capsicum are incredibly high in vitamin C, and also contain other vitamins such as B6, E and K1.
Importantly, capsicums are also a great source of antioxidants, which can help combat free radicals and prevent oxidative damage to your skin. If you want better skin, try making capsicum a part of your weekly meal routine.
Walnuts and Other Nuts
High In: Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids, protein, selenium, and zinc
Great For: Keeping your skin healthy and smooth
Getting enough omega-3 fatty acids can be challenging, especially if you’re vegan and fatty fish are off the table (literally). Nuts are one of the few easily available source of healthy fats, and walnuts emerge as the clear winner, with a 28-gram serving containing 2.5 grams of omega-3s.
It’s important to understand that the omega-3 fatty acids in walnuts aren’t the same as those found in seafood. Alpha-linoleic acid (ALA) is the omega-3 found in plants, whereas eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosapentaenoic acid (DPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are all found in fish .
All four fatty acids are good for you, but ALA needs to be converted to EPA, which can then be converted to DPA and DHA, before our bodies can use it . That conversion process isn’t particularly efficient, and it’s made even worse if you eat a diet high in omega-6 fatty acids . In other words, while nuts are an amazing, healthy snack, you might need to eat seafood or take fish oil tablets to keep your omega-3 levels high.
Other nuts that are great for your skin include almonds, cashews, pistachios, and Brazil nuts.
High In: Carotenoids (like beta-carotene and lycopene), vitamin C and vitamin E
Great For: Keeping your skin looking young and protected from the sun
We love tomatoes because they’re as versatile as they are healthy. Slice them on a burger, have them fresh in a salad, crush them for a pasta sauce … the ways you can use tomatoes in your kitchen are endless.
Just as importantly, they’re a bit of a superfood when it comes to skin health. Tomatoes are loaded with vitamin C and a variety of antioxidants, including lycopene, a type of carotenoid that gives tomatoes their bright red colour. Lycopene can help protect your skin from sun damage, and may help prevent skin cancer .
High In: Curcumin
Great For: Reducing skin condition severity and improving youthfulness
Turmeric is a herb that’s part of the ginger family. Traditionally, it’s been used to flavour curries – although, recently, you’ve probably seen it as a trendy additive to lattes in high-end coffee shops. Turmeric has gained a reputation as a superfood, and for good reason.
This gnarled, unassuming root is loaded with a compound called curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant and antineoplastic properties, and has even been found to improve mental health [Vaughn]. Seriously – research has shown that curcumin can improve everything from gut issues to cancer.
You may be able to improve common skin conditions like acne and eczema with curcumin, and it may also help combat sun-related skin damage . The catch? It has poor bioavailability, which means your body needs quite a lot to really make it work . Various studies have shown that, often, the best results from curcumin come from its use as a topical cream or gel .
Bonus: AdVital Powder
High In: Protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E
Getting the right nutrients through your diet isn’t always easy. Restaurant food is expensive, and cooking meals at home can be time-consuming, especially if you have allergies or intolerances – salmon isn’t a great source of nutrients if you’re allergic to seafood!
That’s why AdVital Powder is a great way to get everything you need to keep your skin glowing. As a taste- and colour-free fortification powder, you can shake, bake or cook it into your favourite foods and drinks without changing the flavour or texture.
It’s also nutritionally complete, packed with 15 grams of protein and 27 vitamins and minerals. In relation to skin health, it’s a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E, and also contains zinc and selenium.
By supplementing a healthy diet with two to three scoops of AdVital Powder per day, getting the nutrients you need for better skin is easier than ever.
Keeping your skin healthy and glowing can often seem impossible. Too much stress, too much sunlight, not enough sunlight, not enough water, too much of this, not enough of that … it’s downright confusing.
So we’ll simplify things for you. Do life in moderation. That’s the key.
Eat a balanced diet. Drink plenty of water. Don’t smoke or drink (excessively). Follow a decent skincare routine. Apply sunscreen. Exercise regularly.
And if that’s not enough, start improving your diet by eating at least one of the foods we’ve mentioned once a day. You can also integrate two to three scoops of AdVital into your daily diet – it’ll support your skin health on the days when you’re too busy or too tired to make yourself a healthy, home cooked meal.
Give it a go. Trust us: beautiful, glowing skin doesn’t have to cost you $300 a month.
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