At this stage in my life, I’m battling with a few different skin concerns. I still try to keep the occasional breakout out at bay (especially around that time of the month), while working to prevent early signs of aging. My skin also has the tendency to look dull, so I’m drawn to ways to add brightness. It’s a lot to balance. First world problems…I know.
I work to manage these skin concerns through my skin care routine, but also through the food that I eat. I’ve taken a dive into the research (so you don’t have to!) to learn about the specific nutrients and dietary patterns that can lead to healthier skin. I’ve also researched skin care, but unlike nutrition, this is not my realm of expertise (I’m no dermatologist!). I will be sharing what I have found has worked for me and my skin. I also have no financial association with any of the products I’m about to mention.
My Skincare Routine
- Cleanser: I’m preferring a gentle cleanser for dry skin, like this one here.
- Treatment: I use a Vitamin C serum in the morning – I’m currently liking this one. I found a Vitamin C serum makes a big difference in the brightness of my skin. Vitamin C has the ability to synthesize collagen, which can help reduce the appearance of fine lines. Vitamin C works along with other antioxidants to protect the skin by neutralizing free radicals. A higher concentration may provide greater photoprotection to the epidermis, lessening the harsh appearance that ultraviolet light damage causes. I haven’t always been sun smart… so I do have some some damage I’m looking to fade.
- Moisturizer: Jojoba oil this oil is a great moisturizer but also doesn’t clog my pores or cause breakouts. It’s very gentle and non-irritating to my skin.
- Sunscreen: I’ve been using an SPF 50 daily. I’ve been rotating through brands – any recommendations?
- Cleanser: (as above) + Makeup remover. I’ve been liking this makeup remover here.
- Treatment: AHA lotion. I use this lotion every other day as a chemical exfoliant. It helps to loosen and get rid of dead skin cells, which can lead to clogging pores. I’m also finding that it helps with brightening my skin, as it has been found to help with pigmentation.
- Moisturizer: Jojoba oil as above.
My Eating Routine
The biggest benefit to my skin comes from the colourful plant-based , whole-food diet that I follow. This diet brings tons of micronutrients, antioxidents and phytonutrients that benefit the skin. Through this eating pattern, I get plenty of the following micronutrients:
- Vitamin C
Vitamin C helps your body build collagen, which is the structural component of almost all cells. It is a powerful antioxidant. Observational studies have found that those with higher intakes of vitamin C have healthier skin and fewer wrinkles.
Eat this: citrus fruits, berries, leafy greens, bell peppers and broccoli.
- Carotenoids (Beta-carotene and Lycopene)
Carotenoids like Beta-carotene (which converts to vitamin A) has been used as a topical treatment for sun damage and acne. There has been a lot of research on the topical use of vitamin A, but a diet rich in carotenoids like beta-carotene and lycopene have also been found to be beneficial. Beta-carotene helps the body grow and repair body tissues. It is thought that beta-carotene can help prevent premature ageing as it helps to reduce environmental damage. In healthy volunteers, a 12-week oral administration of β-carotene resulted in a reduction of UV-induced skin damage. Similar effects have been described in volunteers receiving a lycopene-rich diet.
Eat this: include carrots, tomatoes sweet potato and red bell peppers.
- Vitamin E
Vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin that is essential for the maintenance of healthy skin. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.One interesting way it protects your skin from sun damage is by absorbing the energy from UV radiation so it doesn’t damage cells – especially when combined with vitamin C. Vitamin E is the most abundant micronutrient found in the outermost layers of the skin. More exposure to UV radiation decreases levels of the vitamin in the skin, so bumping up your intake of foods high in vitamins E and C over the summer may be beneficial. (Sun screen is still a must however!)
Eat this: wheat germ, nuts, seeds, whole grains & green leafy vegetables.
While initial studies focused on well-known nutrients, such as vitamins C and E and beta-carotene, studies have supported the effects of multiple other phytonutrients (compounds found in plant-derived foods), including curcumin, and genistein, an isoflavone in soy. Studies have found that compounds, such as grape seed extract, resveratrol (from grapes), and ellagic acid (found in foods such as raspberries) are potent scavengers of superoxide radicals, and that these compounds are able to protect cells from DNA damage.Eat this: Eat lots of plants and spices, including edamame, tofu, turmeric, grapes and berries.
Zinc is very important for maintaining healthy skin, especially for acne sufferers. The skin contains about 20% of the body’s zinc, if the skin is lacking in this, acne is often a symptom. Like vitamin C, it helps build new cells and repair damaged ones and is often included in topical treatments for acne and diaper rash. It also protects against UV radiation and is actually included in many sunscreens
Eat this: fish, eggs, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.
In addition to above micronutrients, there are some additional dietary factors and macronutrients that I pay close attention to:
Ever heard the notion that sugar causes acne? Well, there is truth to this.
Glycemic load takes into account the quantity of carbohydrates consumed as well as the rate of carbohydrate absorption. Foods with a high glycemic index, such as sugar, white bread, and white rice, are rapidly absorbed, leading to higher serum glucose levels and corresponding elevated levels of insulin. Insulin and IGF-1 have been shown to augment sebum production, stimulate adrenal androgen synthesis, and increase androgen bioavailability, all of which play a role in the pathogenesis of acne. Results of this theory have been confirmed here and here.
Eat this: Stick to whole, un-processed grains and legumes, along with non-starchy veggies. Always add a source of protein and fat to your meals to lower the GL.
Essential Healthy Fats
When I first started eating a plant-based diet, I wasn’t including enough fats in my diet. I seen a difference in the way my skin looked. Essential Fatty Acids contribute to the moisture of our skin and also help to repair it. The body can’t produce these, so they are an essential part of your diet. High intakes of Omega 3 fatty acids seem to be able to protect against UV radiation and sunburn. Eating more Omega 3’s (as well as vegetables, olive oil, and legumes) may also help decrease wrinkling in skin that receives a lot of sun exposure.
Eat this: Foods rich in EFAs include fatty fish like salmon, but also nuts and seeds, along with avocados and olive oil.
Sample Eating Days
How much help would this article be if I didn’t show you how to build meals out of my recommendations? Check out my four sample days of meals below!