The former executive director of a successful nonprofit agency now content specialist, Cynthia writes about a variety of topics.
Choosing the Right Food for Great Skin
What you choose to eat each day can affect whether you have healthy, beautiful, clear skin at any age. Ultimately, choosing the right foods to eat for great skin should begin sooner in life rather than later. If you are old enough to choose your snacks and meals, pay attention. Parents who are in control of what your children eat, take heed.
If you have been eating too much of the wrong foods over the years, reverse that.
The way your skin looks today comes down to a few things: genetics, environment, what you eat, and what you drink. If your mother and grandmother had great skin, chances are you do, too. That's genetics. You have no control over genetics. And the environment may be hard for you to change, but you have complete control over what you eat and drink daily. That control can make the difference in what your skin looks like tomorrow and even thirty years from now.
Your skin is the largest of your organs. It's most important functions are to regulate your body temperature, provide the sense of touch and protect your organs from infection and injury. It is certainly the most visible organ and when it comes to the way you look, it is the organ you are probably most concerned with.
Male or female, nearly everyone wants their skin to look the best it can, and they want it to function properly.To be specific, everyone would like the three S's of skin - skin that is soft, supple, and smooth. It doesn't matter your age, never mind your gender, you want the three s's.
Like it or not, the old adage is true: "you are what you eat" and the skin, along with your weight, your health, your strength and energy, is a reflection of what you eat. The bonus is that the foods that are so great for your skin don't stop at beautification. These same foods are also good for the rest of the body and aid in building bones, combating disease, and helping you to maintain proper weight.
The Right Foods
When choosing the right foods to eat, you are looking at two main vitamins: C and E are the "skin vitamins." Next you want plenty of Beta-carotene (precursor to vitamin A) and flavonoids are antioxidants. There are many foods that contain one or more of these nutritional ingredients that are beneficial to skin health. A few more commonly considered foods are mentioned here.
Let's begin with the almond, which is not really a nut but actually falls in the fruit family. Fruit or nut, it has an abundance of vitamin E which is an antioxident important for aiding in moisture retention in the skin, making a slamming impact on the three S's. Less than a cup of almonds without salt, either roasted or raw, can be a delicious way to get the vitamin E that you need. The walnut is a nut and its benefits include vitamin E, as well. The walnut also contains copper which aids in collagen production.
Sure to make any chocolate lover happy, literally, is the fact that chocolate - dark chocolate to be exact - is full of flavanoids which aid in skin clarity. Milk chocolate contains a lot of sugar and is not as beneficial. In fact, the darker the chocolate, the greater the benefits. If dark chocolate is not yet to your liking, make it an acquired taste. Gradually increase the amount of cocoa, starting with 60% dark chocolate and work up to a greater percentage.
Another on the list of foods that can result in great skin is the apricot. Apricot juice was called the "nector of the gods" in Greek mythology. Juice or solid, this little pale orange colored fruit -along with cherries, pumpkin, and carrots - is full of beta-carotene, one of the antioxidants that "slams" free radicals. (When out of balance, free radicals are the enemy of proper cell development.) Throw in the "golden apple" of Greek mythology, the orange, and you have another excellent source of beta-carotene.
Interestingly, spinach is the "world's favorite vegetable" and is full of vitamin A which aids in the quest for clear skin by encouraging new skin cell growth. Yellow squash, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe and carrots are also excellent sources of vitamin A. In fact, carrots are said to have more vitamin A than any other food.
Most of the vegetables and fruits are packed more than one vitamin that aids in glowing skin. For example, winter squash and sweet potatoes have vitamin A and E in levels that make a difference to your skin's health and radiance. Eat tomatoes for an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin A. Both vitamins aid in collagen production which is essential to the elasticity of the skin. Protection from the sun is an additional benefit of the tomato, but don't skip the sunscreen.
For bright clear skin, turn to the honeydew melon. The copper, along with vitamin C also aids in the production of collagen and, like the tomato, the honeydew adds some protection from the sun.
Pumpkin seeds, pecans and walnuts as well, are an excellent source of zinc. Zinc helps the appearance of the skin by lessening the appearance of wrinkles.
While they are found at the grocery store year round, nothing says summer like the strawberry. Strawberries are not only delicious, pleasantly sweet smelling and low in calories, a cup of strawberries is said to have 130% of the daily dose of vitamin C, the collagen booster.
Ultra Violet (UV) rays of the sun can be the skin's worst enemy, creating those free radicals that lead to the skin's premature aging and sometimes skin cancer if there is nothing stopping them. Many foods offer some protection against the harmful rays of the sun including eggs, with the powerful antioxidents lutein and zeaxanthin, and apples which contain another antioxident, guecetin, found in the peel.
Add avocados to your diet if you don't already eat them. The vitamin E found in the avocado aids in cellular regeneration. They are an excellent addition to sandwiches and salads, not to mention as a dip for salt free tortilla chips.
Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) play a major role in helping the skin retain moisture and also protects against those pesky UV rays. EFAs can be found in olive oil and in many nuts and seeds.
These are just a few of the foods that beautify your skin from the inside out. Your diet should include a variety of them. Four to five servings of fruits and vegetables a day is an excellent way to look and feel your best. Eating fish loaded with Omega-3 at least twice a week will not only make you feel great, your skin will look great, too. Don't forget that water is also an essential ingredient in the "recipe" for clear, glowing skin.
Look for the freshest foods. Foods that are in season are a good choice even though most food can found year round. When possible choose fruits and vegetables that are organic. Also, look for fish that has been grown "in the wild" and has not been treated or exposed to pesticides, mercury, or other manmade compounds. Read labels and fact sheets carefully. Be sure to wash all raw fruits and vegetables thoroughly, even those you plan to peel.
Juicing is a great way to get the servings of fruits and vegetables that you need. Invest in a good juicer and drink away. There are plenty of recipes for natural juices. Remember to limit the sugar. That means stay away from the smoothie that have sugar added to them.
Be Mindful of the Right Foods to Eat
What you don't want to eat are foods that are processed and/or have a high sugar content. Sugar is a major source of free radicals which attacks the proteins in collagen. A breakdown in collagen means a loss of elasticity which leads to wrinkles and sagging skin. Much the same happens when you overindulge in alcohol.
Young or young at heart, be mindful of what you eat. A few simple adjustments to your diet may preclude expensive skin treatments. A good rule to follow is to eat "colorful" throughout the day. Most of the fruits and vegetables mentioned are vividly colored. Make a "pretty plate to please your palate" when you prepare your meals.
Fashion designer Coco Chanel once said, "Nature gives you the face you have at twenty, it is up to you to merit the face you have at fifty [and beyond]." Substitute the "skin" for "face" and you have one of the reasons for healthy eating.
Bonus Recipes to Use On the Skin for Healthy, Beautiful Clear Skin
One of the great things about food is that much of what goes in your body can be used on your skin. There is a multitude of books with recipes for food you can use as lotions and oils on your face and body, or in your bath. A few of those recipes have been included in this article. In fact, when buying topical lotions and creams look for those with natural food ingredients as the main ingredients.
- 1 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
Blend salt and egg in a blender or using hand blender. Alternating part olive oil and then part vinegar, slowly add olive oil, then slowly add the vinegar, alternating part olive oil then part vinegar until all ingredients are well blended into the mixture. This becomes the consistency of mayonaise. Apply to the face, avoiding your eyes. Leave on for 10 minutes. Any leftover can be stored in a clean container in the refrigerator for a day or two. This is a great recipe for exfoliating and toning the skin.
Oatmeal & Honey Mask (for dry skin)
- 1/2 cup oatmeal
- 3/4 cup honey
Add the ingredients to a bowl and mix until it becomes a gooey paste. Slather liberally on the face, avoiding the eyes and leave for 10 minutes. Rinse with warm wanter and pat dry.
Avocado Mask (for dry skin)
Mash 1 avocado into a paste. Apply it to the face avoiding the eyes. Rinse after 15 minutes. The avocado stimulates the natural production of oils in the skin and should not be used on oily skin.
Put 1 cup of strawberries in the food processor to create a paste. When the consistency is smooth, apply to the skin for five to 10 minutes. The paste contains salicylic acid which is an exfoliant.
Caution: If you are allergic to any of the foods mentioned when they are ingested, you may react when its on your skin. Do not apply them topically.
© 2011 Cynthia B Turner
Cynthia B Turner (author) from Georgia on February 11, 2013:
Hello Magdaleine, I hope I provided something useful for you. Thank you for the vote up! Happy New Year!
Magdaleine on February 11, 2013:
Great information, voted up.
Cynthia B Turner (author) from Georgia on July 04, 2012:
Hi Ruchira, Thank you so much for voting up and sharing this hub. I hope you find the tips useful.
Ruchira from United States on July 03, 2012:
great tips, cyndi10. The first facial where olive oil is suggested kinda gave me the eeks but, will give it a try during winter time.
thanks voted up and sharing it across
Cynthia B Turner (author) from Georgia on July 03, 2012:
Hello yoginijoy, I apologize for the delay in responding to your comment.
The same as you, I like almonds better than walnuts, but I have tried to eat them because of the benefits. Yes almonds are very nutritious which is a very good reason to eat them. Fortunately, I like most things that are beneficial for you. I think we run into so much trouble because many more like what's not good for you or don't eat consistently and it shows on the skin. I appreciate the vote up.
yoginijoy from Mid-Atlantic, USA on July 01, 2012:
Hi Cyndi10! Wow, this is a fantastic hub. I tend to eat healthily but I don't eat as many nuts as I should. I will add those in. Recently I read that almonds are the most beneficial and I like those better than walnuts so I'll add a handful to my daily diet. Thanks for the great information. Voting up and useful!
Cynthia B Turner (author) from Georgia on February 08, 2012:
Hello Vinaya, you are so absolutely correct. Thank you for reading this and for taking the time to leave a comment.
Cynthia B Turner (author) from Georgia on February 08, 2012:
Hi, I try to follow what I write and have found that if I don't eat right, then I don't feel good and my skin shows it, too. Thank you so much for the vote up and sharing. I appreciate that.
Vinaya Ghimire from Nepal on February 08, 2012:
Do you live to eat or eat to live? The discussion can be long with equal numbers of answers. However, eating the right food is not only the secret of healthy life, but also the mantra for longevity. You have to eat food that makes you look young and remain fit
Saadia A on February 08, 2012:
Great Information you have shared. I really liked the idea of "eat colorful throughout the day". This is very true that you have to take a healthy,well balanced diet for a clear skin.Thank you for sharing and also the wonderful bonus skin care recipes :)
My vote up,awesome and i am sharing it as well!!!
Cynthia B Turner (author) from Georgia on February 08, 2012:
Hi Katrina, Thanks for taking a look at this hub. I agree with you. Diet is the key to great skin and great health. A lot of skin problems and illnesses could be eliminated. (Saving a lot of money, too.)
katrinasui on February 08, 2012:
Great hub! Everyone wants to have fresh and healthy skin and that's why they use different products on their face. I think they should concentrate on their diet. Good food plays an important role in getting healthy skin.
Cynthia B Turner (author) from Georgia on January 28, 2012:
Hi, Thank you. I'm glad you found the article useful. Since it's the beginning of the new year, maybe we can fit some of the healthier foods into our diets. Thank you so much for commenting.
ContentThreads from India on January 28, 2012:
Great article. Every one wants great skin and if it comes from eating, that is even greater. You really gave a huge list of foods to choose from. Lets see if we can use them.
lucia nagy on March 31, 2011:
Great article. I will try a nuts and berry regimen from now on.
Cynthia B Turner (author) from Georgia on February 24, 2011:
I don't think it's ever too late to eat healthy since eating the right foods can still affect the way you look and feel day to day.Thank you for commenting.
Leon on February 20, 2011:
Very useful information. If I had been eating properly
for the last 60 or more years, I would probably be able
to make fewer visits to the doctor, and maybe have a more
Richard on February 18, 2011:
Great information. Hope it not too late for me to try her suggestions.