Want healthy-looking skin? The answer may be on your plate! Here’s how fruits and veggies keep skin glowing by nourishing it from within.
Your skin is incredible! Yes, really - it’s a remarkable thing. Most of the time, we’re too busy looking out for wrinkles or breakouts to even notice all the beautiful things it does for us. So how about a few reasons to be grateful? For one thing, our skin is waterproof and insulating: it stops harmful chemicals from getting into our systems while keeping all the necessary fluids inside, and helps guard us against extremes of temperature. It manufactures vitamin D from sunlight. It’s incredibly elastic and responsive, allowing us to move, and stretch, and accommodate growing babies in our wombs. And it’s full of nerves that help us experience the world around us and the people closest to us, through our sense of touch.
What’s more, if you show your skin some love it will positively glow. The best way to do this is by nourishing it with the right nutrients in your diet. Expensive lotions and serums may enhance the superficial layer of your skin, but - isn’t this always the way? - real change comes from within. What you eat can optimize and support your skin at the cellular level and play a key role in making it visibly healthier. Read along to learn more about food good for skin!
Your skin counts as a bodily organ, just like your heart or lungs. And it’s the biggest of them all: the average adult has an astonishing 22 square feet of skin! It’s made up of water, fat, and three essential skin proteins: Collagen, the most abundant protein in the body, is found in skin, bones, cartilage, and muscles. Collagen is responsible for the structure, stability and strength of our skin. Elastin, as the name suggests, is a protein that provides elasticity to the skin, giving it the ability to retain its shape after stretching. Keratin forms the rigid part (surface) of the skin and helps create a protective barrier; it’s also found in hair and nails.
Overexposure to sun and artificial tans (looking at you, tanning bed)
Air pollution, environmental toxins, free radicals
Unhealthy habits such as poor nutrition and smoking
Fruits and vegetables contain naturally-occurring compounds known as phytochemicals, which function in a variety of ways to protect our skin cells from damage and help them thrive. Here’s a rundown on the key phytochemicals for skin health, and a list of just some of the fruits good for skin.
Fruits and veggies are rich sources of antioxidants. These compounds have the power to scavenge free radicals - unstable molecules that cause oxidative damage to cells, including skin cells. Free radicals also damage collagen and elastin, two major proteins in skin.
These are pigments found in red, orange, yellow, and green fruits and vegetables, including (of course) carrots. Among hundreds of types of carotenoids, beta carotene, lutein and lycopene are known to help promote skin health.
Lutein protects the skin from ultraviolet (UV) rays that cause damage and may protect skin cells from premature aging. Found in leafy greens (and kencko greens).
Lycopene has a photoprotective action against UV-induced damage to human skin, such as sunburn, which contributes to skin aging. One of the best sources of lycopene is tomato (you can get your lycopene dose in kencko spicy tomatoes).
Side note: you don’t have to eat a Bugs Bunny diet of pounds and pounds of carrots to experience these positive effects! Just three extra daily servings of carotenoid-rich fruit and vegetables have been shown to make your skin look healthier within six weeks.
An essential requirement for the production of collagen, the protein that provides structure to the skin, strengthens it, and promotes elasticity. It is also a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals, repairing skin cell damage. One study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women with higher vitamin C intake had a lower likelihood of wrinkles and better overall skin-aging appearance. Vitamin C is present in many fruits and vegetables, particularly broccoli, cauliflower, kale, bell peppers, citrus fruits, kiwi, papaya, strawberries and sweet potatoes, and is among the best vitamins for skin health. (Get a generous dose of vitamin C in kencko corals, greens and reds.)
Poly- and monounsaturated fats are the ones that are good for our health, and they include omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3 is a structural component of cell membranes, which make up a large part of your skin, so it’s really important for skin health. Omega-3 fatty acids manage oil production, keeping your skin hydrated. They also protect us from sun damage, reducing premature aging of the skin. Some studies suggest that omega-3 may alleviate psoriasis symptoms, but more research is needed. Good dietary sources of omega-3 and 6 include seeds, nuts, eggs and oily fish. (Find omega-3 in flax seeds in kencko golds, and in chia seeds in crimsons and red.)
Selenium, a powerful antioxidant, works in conjunction with other antioxidants like as vitamins E and C, and plays an important role in supporting our immune systems. In fact, studies point to a selenium-rich diet possessing skin cancer-, sun damage- and age spot-combating properties.
And the good news is reaching your recommended daily amount for selenium is simple: just eat Brazil nuts. Eating only four nuts will provide your RDA! For optimum results, mix Brazil nuts with other seeds rich in vitamin E. Have a nut allergy or just don't care for Brazil nuts? Other good sources are fish, shellfish, eggs, wheatgerm, tomatoes, and broccoli.
Among vitamins good for skin, Vitamin E ranks near the top. Studies suggest it protects skin from oxidative damage and supports healthy skin growth. Plus, it helps prevent premature aging and DNA cell damage.
To add extra Vit E into your diet, look to consume more almonds, avocado, hazelnuts, and pine nuts. Sunflower and corn oils also pack plenty of Vitamin E. One easy way to really lay on the Vitamin E is to incorporate these foods into a salad.
Another mineral that gets lumped in with skin health often is zinc. But how is zinc good for your skin?
It helps to keep your skin appearing smooth and healthy, and it also helps to fight against the signs of aging. Zinc can be found in abundance in foods such as beef, lamb, and oysters. But if you vegetarian or vegan, you can also get zinc through pumpkin seeds, or via a supplement if you aren't getting enough zinc through your diet.
But if you want the clearest answer to the "how to make your skin glow" question, remember, your skin glow is also affected by how hydrated your body is. Aim for a minimum of 6-8 glasses of fluids per day (48-64 fl oz), with water being the majority of your intake. Fruits and vegetables also make a big contribution to good hydration as they are mostly made up of water.
Losing sleep increases the body’s levels of cortisol, a hormone associated with stress and inflammation. Deep sleep is also the time when your body gets a chance to rebalance its moisture levels and repair damaged cells; missing out on those processes can accelerate skin aging.
The bottom line? Let’s face it, nobody gets through life without a few wrinkles, unless they are prepared to cheat! But nips & tucks aside, naturally healthy skin looks great at any age. Getting a healthy diet, rich in fruits and vegetables, is among the best long-term investments you can make in your skin.
So, are you ready to make fruits and vegetables part of your skincare routine?