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9 Foods for Beautiful Skin

By on July 1, 2013
Screen shot 2013 06 11 at 2.00.17 PM 300x336 - 9 Foods for Beautiful Skin

    For beautiful skin that glows, focus on nourishing your skin from the inside out. Our skin has many functions, including those that impact us aesthetically. In order to keep your skin looking youthful and healthy, it is important to focus on the fundamentals – exercise regularly, get a good night’s sleep, and eat well. While it’s tough to choose just 10, here are 10 foods at the top of my list for keeping that youthful glow.

1) Strawberries
This sweet summer treat packs a slew of skin benefits. As a rich source of vitamin C, a key component in the production of collagen, strawberries can help boost skin’s elasticity and make skin more supple.  We lose collagen as we age, so supplementing your diet with these berries can help to ward off signs of aging. Strawberries also contain a phenol antioxidant known as ellagic acid, proven to show a photoprotective effect from UV light, and an anti-inflammatory effect, both key factors in the development of skin wrinkles.  

2) Raw Cocoa
Theobroma cacao is produced from the seeds of the cacao (or cocoa) tree. Not only is cacao a great source of magnesium, helping to lower blood pressure and promote relaxation, it also contains high amounts of resveratrol, the potent antioxidant found in red wine offers an array of anti-aging effects including mechanisms that protect the skin from the aging process. Cacao has been shown to reduce inflammation, and offers powerful antioxidants that combat free radicals that can cause damage to your skin.  You can find raw cacao at your local health food store as a powder or as seeds, and use it in a variety of ways including in smoothies, on cereal, or to make a hot chocolate treat. 

3) Avocado

This creamy “super-fruit”, is packed with potential health benefits.  Offering anti-inflammatory properties, avocado can help balance skin’s appearance and colour, while reducing skin blemishes.  Avocados are also rich in a variety of healthy fats, nourishing the skin to boost your complexion, and aiding in the absorption of beneficial fat-soluble vitamins.  Avocados also protect against liver damage, helping to keep liver detoxification functioning optimally so that toxins don’t need to be eliminated through the skin to the same extent.  

4) Omega-3
Yes, technically this isn’t a “food” – it is a component of a food.  It can be extremely difficult these days to find sources of fish such as salmon that offer a safe supply of omega-3 fatty acids without the risk of it containing toxins such as heavy metals.  Omega-3 works as a powerful anti-inflammatory, reducing inflammation that can lead to aging skin. Omega-3’s can also help to reduce inflammatory skin disorders such as eczema or psoriasis. These fatty acids also nourish the skin cells with vital oils, encouraging a healthy glow. When buying fish, make sure you choose wild fish as opposed to farmed, and limit your intake to 1-2 times per week. Supplement with a high-quality fish or krill oil as a daily alternative, ensuring that the fish are small (anchovies, sardines, mackerel) and that the products are properly tested for heavy metals.  

5) Kimchi
Fermented foods such as kimchi, made of cabbage and spices, are packed with beneficial bacteria produced during the fermentation process that replenish your gut and promote healthy digestion.  The digestive tract is where we absorb many of our nutrients, which promotes a healthy complexion. If our digestion is not functioning optimally, we cannot break foods down and extract the key nutrients we need in order to feel (and look) your best!  The digestive tract also helps eliminate toxins through excretion, but when it struggles to do this it calls on other organs to help, using the skin as one of the organs to eliminate toxins, leading to skin blemishes, discoloration, and other conditions such as rosacea, eczema, and psoriasis. By ensuring our digestive tract is supplied with beneficial gut bacteria, we are helping to ward off negative signs of aging and other skin-related concerns, promoting a calm, even complexion.    

6) Kale
Among its many health benefits including antioxidants and fiber, this deliciously versatile leafy green is power packed with vitamin A.  Vitamin A promotes blemish-free skin, by enhancing skin cell repair and maintaining the integrity and function of the skin as a barrier to external toxins. The vitamin A in kale can also aid in the treatment of severe acne, and other skin conditions such as psoriasis.   Additionally, one cup of kale also contains almost as much vitamin C as an orange, leading to increased collagen production and skin elasticity.   

7) Garlic
Not only is garlic full of antimicrobial properties, which strengthens the immune system leading to a fresh, bright complexion, it also provides antioxidants, anti-inflammatory benefits, and a variety of nutrients.Garlic contains organosulfur compounds, which increase skin tone and promote elasticity. The organosulfur compounds are also thought to stimulate the synthesis of glutathione, a potent intracellular antioxidant that promotes healthy detoxification pathways so that other vital organs, such as the skin, are not overloaded with the task of trying to eliminate toxins.  Garlic is also a good source of selenium, a powerful antioxidant that slows the signs of aging caused by oxidation. To get the most benefit from garlic, finely chop or crush the cloves and eat the flesh raw, whether as part of a salad dressing, guacamole, or mixed in hummus.    

8) Green Tea
This powerful beverage, enjoyed both warm or over ice, provides polyphenols, a specific type of antioxidant that offers protection to the skin from harmful UV rays, and can even prevent photocarcinogenesis (essentially, skin cancer caused by UV light).  Green tea also contains a constituent known as l-theanine, which offers calming effects that counteract the visible signs of aging caused by stress.  

9) Pumpkin Seeds
These nutty green seeds are full of fibre, supporting a healthy digestive tract and aiding in the elimination of toxins. Pumpkin seeds are also high in zinc, the trace mineral that boosts skin’s collagen production that promotes greater elasticity, fewer blemishes, less wrinkles.  Pumpkin seeds are also good sources of vitamin E, omega-3, and omega-6, all of which nourish the skin and encourage soft, supple features.       
    As with any food, eating an excessive amount can lead to accumulation of certain nutrients within the body. While this is perfectly fine for some people, larger levels of particular nutrients can negatively affect certain health conditions or medications.  Additionally, supplementing with certain nutrients rather than absorbing them through whole foods can also lead to adverse health reactions in certain individuals. Talk to your medical or naturopathic doctor before starting any significant dietary or supplementation regimens to ensure you are progressing safely while targeting the most significant areas of health for you as an individual.

Nicola Kempinska BKin, BA, ND is a licensed Naturopathic Doctor located at Cedar Springs Medical Health in Burlington, Ontario. Kempinska practices Family Medicine, with a special interest in Anti-Aging Medicine & Longevity, Women’s Health, and Pain Management. She has additional training and certifications in Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture, Intravenous Nutrient Therapy, Injection Therapy for Anti-Aging & Pain Management and First Line Therapy Weight Management. To book an appointment call: (905) 333-9799.

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