by Amy Myszko
Researching the best strategy to keep your skin clear and youthful? Or perhaps you have problem skin and have tried every cosmetic in the book? From a holistic perspective, our skin reflects the health of the digestive tract, liver and body overall. When our bodies get bogged down with toxins, our skin can show the effects, from acne to eczema and dryness. Instead of thinking only about what you put on your skin, it’s crucial to focus too on which foods you can eat to moisten, nourish and soothe your skin from the inside out.
1) Tremella Fuciformis Mushrooms
This obscure medicinal mushroom from China might just be your skin’s best friend. Considered an immune and chi (life force) tonic, tremella mushrooms are also touted as the premier healing skin tonic in Traditional Chinese Medicine. This may be due in part to the fact that tremella mushrooms are quite hydrating to the system, including the skin, with constituents that act much like the popular hyaluronic acid found in many skin care products. Tremella mushrooms are rich in dietary fibers, protein, minerals, antioxidants and high in vitamin D. It also inhibits melanin production in the skin, which could help to lighten and brighten blotchy or uneven skin tones.
2) Apple Cider Vinegar
Toxicity is rampant in the modern world, and as previously mentioned, when our livers and bodies become bogged down with toxins, we can end up with chronic skin problems. Removing toxic things from your life is a great first step in improving skin health, but you may also want to consider avoiding consuming things such as alcohol, processed sugar, food allergens (gluten and dairy products) and trans-fatty acids. To help your liver process toxins on a daily basis, apple cider vinegar may help jump start the detox mechanisms in the body. Try one tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar in warm water first thing in the morning. It will help to rev up your metabolism and liver detoxification. ACV can also be used topically as a safe, mildly astringent skin toner.
When it comes to benefits to the skin, nothing compares to nourishing the body with good fats. Avocados are rich in healthy monounsaturated fats as well as vitamins D, E, and A, all important to keep skin healthy and youthful. One animal study showed that the oils in avocados increase soluble collagen in the tissues, a form of collagen that is more easily utilized for repair and protection by tissues such as the skin. Research also indicates that the nutrients found in avocados act as powerful antioxidants, protecting the cardiovascular system and the body as a whole from damaging free radicals.
4) Cold-Water Fish
Another type of healthy fat crucial for skin health are omega-3 fatty acids. These fats are found mainly in cold-water fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel as well as in wild game, grass-fed meats, some eggs and non-animal sources such as flax and chia seeds. The diets of most Americans are omega-3 deficient while being overly rich in omega-6 fatty acids, and this imbalance can lead to pro-inflammatory states in the body. Inflammation causes tissue damage, so dampening the inflammatory process is one crucial way that we can promote healthy aging. A deficiency in omega-3s is directly linked to dry skin and disorders such as rosacea and psoriasis.
5) Broccoli and Dark Leafy Greens
Broccoli is a green super food that provides numerous benefits to the body, including improving the health of your skin. Broccoli is high in vitamin K, a crucial nutrient for healthy bones, hair and skin. One extract from broccoli sprouts, glucoraphanin, has demonstrated UV-protective action in animal trials. Broccoli is also high in vitamin C, an important cofactor for collagen production in the skin, as well as many other antioxidants.
6) Yellow/Orange Bell Peppers
We’ve mentioned the benefits of healthy fats and the importance of antioxidants to slowing down skin aging. Vegetables that have yellow and orange coloration, such as bell peppers and carrots, are rich in carotenoids, antioxidant nutrients that protect the skin from the damaging effects of toxins and free radicals. Bell peppers are also full of vitamin C, which as mentioned supports anti-oxidant effects and is needed for collagen formation everywhere in the body.
Putting It All Together
Remember to hydrate! No amount of healthy eating can compensate for dehydration, and your skin is where it shows. Drink pure, clean filtered water (reverse osmosis is best) and be sure to take a trace mineral supplement or add minerals to your water. Increasing skin-healthy foods in your diet is important, but avoid junk and processed foods, too. These steps taken together will not only make your skin glow but revitalize your whole system.
Amy Myszko is a Certified Clinical Herbalist, Certified Lactation Counselor and Licensed Lactation Care Provider and has been practicing herbalism and nutrition since 2007. She recently graduated with a master’s degree in lactation and is pursuing a career as a Holistic Lactation Therapist.