Nourished Skin for the New Year
Guest Contributor: Robin Barrie Kaiden, MS, RD, CDN
It would be nice if there were a true “fountain of youth,” a perfect cosmetic procedure, a magic cream, or potion drink to maintain skin youth and beauty. Although that one "silver bullet" does not exist today, recent research demonstrates that Nutrition, Topical Skin Care, and Aesthetic Procedures together exert a synergistic, effective remedy. By implementing all three of these skincare categories, optimal skin health and skin beauty are achieved from the outside, as well as from the inside.
Many factors are involved in the condition of the skin, so it makes sense that multiple methods be combined for the best effect. Hormone imbalance, inflammation, infection, and free radicals (oxidative stress) are internal mechanisms that can exacerbate skin problems and aging, while smoking, UV radiation (sun), and environmental stress can externally lead to cellular damage. Free radicals can lead to collagen and connective tissue breakdown, wrinkles, sagging, inflammation, uneven skin tone, and discoloration. Consuming foods that fight against these free radicals can help!
A proper balanced diet can help prevent and treat the above effects of imperfect skin and aging. Take note of these important items below:
Water: Water is the largest component of the human body, comprising 60 to 75% of each of us. It is essential for all of the body’s systems, including the skin, digestion, metabolism, and hormones. It maintains skin hydration, making it moist, plump, and free of blemishes. In digestion, it aids in ridding the body of toxins, waste, and impurities while maintaining regularity. Add cucumber and mint or strawberries and citrus fruit (or your own creation) to a pitcher of water and keep cool in the fridge for a refreshing drink.
Protein: As the second largest component of the body, protein is required for tissue building and repair. Skin, hormones, the immune system, and enzymes are all comprised mainly of protein. Antioxidant enzymes found naturally in the body exert a protective effect against oxidative stress.
Anti-inflammatory Foods: Foods high in monounsaturated fats, such as extra-virgin olive oil, fish oil (omega-3’s, or EPA and DHA), avocado, tart/sour cherries, and blueberries prevent and decrease inflammation. Saturated and trans fats (found in fried and processed foods) and refined sugars increase inflammation and should be avoided.
Hormone Balance: Eating mostly organic foods decreases exposure to hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides found in animal products and produce. Maintaining even blood sugar levels helps balance hormones. Accomplish this by eating balanced meals and snacks at regular times, including protein, high-fiber whole grain carbohydrates, legumes, and essential fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6), and a variety of fruits and vegetables. Refined sugars, white flour, hydrogenated oils, trans fats, artificial sweeteners, additives, and preservatives can all alter hormone levels. These are all inflammatory items. They should be eliminated, or at least reduced, from the diet.
Lycopene: This is one of the carotenoids (Vitamin A precursor) highly concentrated in tomatoes, watermelon, pink grapefruit, and guava. Research has shown that it decreases UV-induced damage, inflammation, and oxidative stress. It is most bioavailable in heat-processed or oil-based tomato products, including canned tomato juice, tomato paste, and sun-dried tomatoes.
Cocoa/Chocolate: Cocoa, used to make chocolate, contains flavonoids which act as antioxidants and have shown to improve skin quality in research studies. These flavonoids increase blood flow and skin oxygen saturation while decreasing skin roughness.
Minerals: Selenium, zinc, copper, and molybdenum are minerals that are important in producing the body’s naturally occurring antioxidant enzymes. Studies have shown that these minerals protect against oxidative stress and can improve acne. They can be found in these foods:
Selenium: Brazil nuts, walnuts, legumes, animal products, fish, cereals, grains
Zinc: crimini mushrooms, spinach, pumpkin seeds, beef, lamb
Copper: crimini mushrooms, turnip greens, molasses, Swiss chard, spinach, sesame seeds, kale
Molybdenum: milk, lima beans, spinach, liver, grain, peas, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower
Additional Antioxidants: Vitamin C is water-soluble and found in fruits and vegetables including oranges, broccoli, bell peppers, strawberries, watermelon, and grapefruit. Vitamin E is fat-soluble and found in sunflower seeds, almonds, olives, spinach, and papaya. It helps protect skin from UV light and free radical cell damage. Polyphenols, found in green tea, grape seeds, and pomegranate are skin antioxidants that can fight against anti-aging free radicals and increase the effectiveness of sunscreen.
Avocado: High in Vit E for anti-aging; antioxidants promote clear glowing skin and hair health
Olive Oil: Healthy fat is anti-inflammatory and can promote healthy skin, and protect against UV rays
Almonds: High in Vit E, protects against UV rays and free radical cell damage
Brazil Nuts: 1 meets 100% daily SELENIUM: protects against skin stress, can improve acne
Omega 3s: In fatty fish like Salmon, they are anti-inflammatory for skin health
Coconut Oil: Improves digestion, metabolism; high in antioxidants, Vitamin E, great for skin and hair
Fruits and Vegetables
Berries: High in Vit C, antioxidants and fiber
Tomatoes: High in Lycopene, decreases UV damage and inflammation. Most available when oil added
Carrots: High in antioxidants, including beta carotene (Vit A precursor)
Celery: High in water content and fiber aids in digestion and helps keep you full for weight loss
Cucumber: Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits and high in water
Pomegranate: Contains Polyphenols-skin antioxidants that are anti-aging, improve sunscreen effect
Pink Grapefruit: High in Vit A, carotene, lycopene, Vit C; may help with weight loss and increase metabolism
Watermelon: High in water content, lycopene, antioxidant Vitamin C, and potassium
Red Peppers: More Vitamin C than citrus fruits, and high fiber-great for digestion, so great for the skin
Robin Barrie Kaiden, MS, RD, CDN, CSSD is renowned for helping people of all ages embrace a healthier lifestyle through nutrition and fitness counseling. As a Licensed Registered Dietitian and Personal Trainer, her smart and sensible approach to pediatrics, weight loss, sports nutrition, allergies, cardiovascular health, pre/post natal, and other areas of clinical and lifestyle nutrition has resonated with hundreds of people across the United States. In addition to her private Manhattan and Westport, CT-based practice for adults, children and families, she maintains a national presence as a blogger, columnist, guest speaker, and consultant. A recognized expert on healthy eating, Robin is a trusted resource for print, television, and online media. She appears regularly in various news, lifestyle, and entertainment stories for CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox News, Parenting, Golf Fitness, Vogue, People.com, Forbes.com, and other media outlets. Robin received her B.S. and M.S. degrees in Nutrition and Exercise Science from Cornell and Columbia Universities. For more information, visit her website.