One of the many benefits of taking care of your diet is the unmistakeable glow in your skin. There are particular groups of foods that act as magic when it comes to protecting your skin, reversing the effects of ageing and adding a particular radiance to your complexion and we’re about to dive into some of the best. And don’t worry. There’s no need to completely overhaul your diet in a heartbeat, but rather begin to build on your small daily habits of including the below foods in your diet.
Loaded with antioxidants which help to protect against cell damage, berries boast powerful anti-ageing properties which improve overall skin appearance. One of the key antioxidants found in berries is vitamin C, which just happens to be the most abundant antioxidant in human skin. You will find vitamin C to naturally protect against skin damage and possess powerful anti-inflammatory properties, which is great for clearing up troublesome acne.
Curious about the content of Vitamin C in particular berries? Strawberries make some of the best sources with one cup providing over 110% of your RDI (recommended daily intake) of vitamin C. Other great sources are raspberries (one cup) providing 43% of your RDI and blueberries at 19% per cup.
Where possible, opt for organic varieties of berries given they always seem to top the “Dirty Dozen” list of fruits with the highest levels of pesticides.
Nuts are an excellent source of Vitamin E, which just happens to be the best friend of vitamin C, as these two work in perfect unison when it comes to preventing skin damage. You might picture vitamin E as being rocket fuel for the effects of vitamin C, as it can increase the efficiency as much as eight fold! (think lashings of fresh berries and nuts for snacking during the day).
Vitamin E is the key ingredient in anti-ageing creams and has been shown to strengthen collagen (found in skin tissue). The result of a diet rich in Vitamin E? Firm, soft skin with an overall radiance that shines from the inside out.
Some great nut sources of vitamin E include sunflower seeds with just 0.25 of a cup making up 82% of your RDI (recommended daily intake) and almonds of the same measurement making 40% of your RDI.
Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, these are the good types of fat you want in your meal plan. Including plenty of Atlantic salmon, mackerel, tuna and mullet will provide a variety of omega-3’s along with plenty of vitamins and minerals for glowing skin. Many of these fish are great sources of zinc, selenium and vitamin D. In studies, omega 3 has been found to contain anti-inflammatory properties, protect skin tissue and also goes a long way in supporting healthy ageing.
If you find that you suffer from dry skin, including plenty of fatty fish in your diet will help to keep your skin moisturised by regulating oil production. Lover of the sun? Omega-3’s might just become your favourite, as they’re showing great promise in protecting the skin from ultraviolet radiation via their photoprotective properties.
Even a low intake of omega-3’s can reduce non-melanoma skin cancer by as much as 30%. It’s also interesting to note that sunscreens alone are not enough to combat overexposure to UV rays, therefore your diet will work wonders in protecting your skin from sun damage.
It should come as no surprise that some of the best fresh produce for glowing skin is lashings of leafy greens in your diet. Think kale, lettuce, bok choi, silverbeet, spinach and collard greens. These are all packed full of nutrients which the skin absolutely craves.
Moving kale into the spotlight, just one cup contains an off the scale amount of vitamin K (over 1000% of your recommended daily intake), 98% of your RDI of vitamin A and 71% of your RDI of vitamin C. Vitamin K supports healing of the skin, vitamin A is great for treating acne and mitigating damage from UV rays, including smoothing out fine wrinkles, while vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant.
In particular, aiming for the recommended serving of five vegetables per day, you will feel a profound difference in your skin, along with plenty of energy to spare. Give yourself the challenge of five vegies a day, even for just one week and notice the difference!
Containing over 23 vitamins and minerals, you might agree that this particular vegetable is an absolute powerhouse of nutrients. If there’s one vege that is most loyal in protecting your skin, then broccoli might just be it! Enjoying one cup of cooked broccoli will give you over 240% of your RDI of vitamin K, over 130% of your RDI of vitamin C and over 40% of your RDI of folate.
Folate assists in maintaining skin health by repairing DNA damage, which combined with broccoli’s high level of antioxidants will see your skin glowing in no time!
Broccoli contains lutein which has protective properties following exposure to UV radiation and has even been found to reduce skin wrinkling.
Seaweed forms a crucial part of the diets of those with the longest life spans in the world-the Japanese. Marine algae has the ability to prevent UV-induced skin damage which is one reason why seaweed extracts are making a name within the cosmetic industry. Algae contains antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that help to repair skin damage caused by acne, environmental pollutants and food allergies.
So how do you consume seaweed we hear you ask? You can enjoy seaweed as a healthy addition to your stirfry or added to a cup of miso soup. By visiting your local sushi train, you can indulge in many varieties of sushi pre-wrapped in nori or try a fresh seaweed salad.
Turmeric is recognised as a valuable medicinal spice with healing properties that has been used for over 5000 years. It is not uncommon for turmeric to be used topically throughout Indian culture as a home remedy for many skin conditions such as eczema and acne.
The active ingredient in turmeric which exhibits a positive benefit to the skin goes by the name of curcumin. Curcumin contains powerful antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties. You might have noticed many of these properties listed on the ingredient panel of big-name cosmetic creams, the difference being that turmeric is a 100% natural (and affordable) approach to your beauty regime. Antioxidants in particular reverse the breakdown of collagen caused by sun damage, improves skin dryness, tone and roughness.
Rich in selenium, biotin and vitamin B2 and B12, eggs are a highly versatile food that should certainly feature frequently throughout your meals. Selenium plays an important role in skin health as it protects cells from oxidative stress which can be caused by a variety of factors including stress, pollution and of course poor dietary choices (ie all those cheat meals!)
B vitamins are commonly added to skin-care products as they help to remove toxins, hydrate the skin and improve blood circulation by improving production of red blood cells. This is very important for glowing skin as red blood cells help to transport oxygen and nutrients to the skin tissues.
Loaded with carotenoids which once ingested increase skin luminance. One interesting study showed that those who had a healthy intake of carotenoids developed a slight yellowing of overall skin colour, which rated as more attractive than those with unhealthy (low-carotenoid) skin colour.
Carrots boast high levels of vitamin A (with 1 cup of sliced carrot equalling over 100% of your RDI). Vitamin A helps to protect your skin from sun damage as it kindly donates electrons which neutralise free radicals (the bad guys looking to destroy your skin cells). Your skin requires vitamin C in order to synthesise collagen and is also beneficial in reducing any pigmentation.
One of the best ways to avoid a dull complexion is to consume plenty of zinc-rich foods. Oysters top the list as one of the most potent sources of zinc, with around 42 grams containing 200% of your RDI of zinc. Studies have pointed to that fact that those who suffer from acne have been shown to have significantly low levels of zinc.
Zinc helps you to reach your skin goals by softening and lighting your skin colour, balancing out skin pigmentation and reducing scarring.
By including just some the above foods in your diet, you will be well on your way to glowing skin from the inside out. As you can see, foods go far beyond their ability to simply fill your stomach up when you’re hungry. Many hold powerful medicinal and healing properties which are available right at your fingertips as soon as you enter the supermarket door. Aside from glowing skin, don’t be surprised if your energy levels increase tenfold. Highly nutritional foods are renowned for a clean and natural supply of energy, very different from that of a short-lived sugar or caffeine high!
Written by Shannon Davidson
Sports science/nutrition blog writer