We know that the skin is impacted by a range of different factors beyond our control, such as genetics, aging and hormones, which is why ensuring we do everything in our power to maintain good internal health is vital. After all, products only go skin-deep.
How to keep your skin healthy
A good diet
We’ve spoken about this before, but what you eat is as important as the skincare products you apply. This is because gut health and digestion are vital for controlling and preventing inflammatory substances from entering the body, as well as flushing out harmful toxins. Foods that should comprise your diet include:
- Mangoes, thanks to their anti-oxidant-based compounds which help protect parts of the skin, such as collagen.
- Tomatoes, as they boast skin-cancer prevention benefits. One study of mice found that daily consumption of this versatile fruit decreased the development of skin cancer tumours by 50% after UV light exposure, while another human-based study proved that incorporating tomato paste in your meals may help protect against sunburn. These are just two examples, but you should aim to include as many colourful fruits and vegetables in your diet as possible to improve skin health.
- Kale, as it’s one of the best sources of lutein and zeaxanthin, which may protect against light-induced damage, especially from UV rays.
- Olive oil, which has been commonly associated with lowering elements of facial aging such as wrinkles and dark spots.
- Soy, which is believed to reduce crow’s feet.
- Protein, in general, as this is turned into amino acids – the body’s building blocks. This helps you shed old skin and promotes the formation of new collagen.
- Chocolate – hooray! Yup, the cocoa flavanols found in dark chocolate are believed to improve both the structure and function of skin, such as enhancing a smooth texture, increasing hydration and helping to defend against UV rays. An important note: While tempting, do NOT solely rely on eating chocolate to protect you from the sun! SPF-based skincare products are a must, and you can read more about the importance of this here and here.
- Green tea, which contains rejuvenating skin cells. It has shown promising results as a potential treatment for certain excess-skin conditions, such as psoriasis and dandruff, thanks to its ability to slow down the production of cells.
- Omega-3, which – among other things – is found in oily fish, walnuts and pumpkin seeds, may also prevent dryness and flaking of the skin. Vital for the building of cell walls, lowering inflammation and blocking a skin cancer-related chemical, the body can’t make it alone so it’s imperative to include in your diet. Healthy fats, in general, help prevent your skin from becoming dry and wrinkled and are also responsible for its glow.
- Vitamins. A, C, E – yup, as it’s lettering suggests, vitamins are pretty ace for the skin, too. Vitamin A interrupts the process that breaks down collagen, as well as helping protect against sunburn, while Vitamins C and E work together to strengthen cell walls, protecting you from free radicals and lowering the chance of skin cancer.
- Minerals, such as Zinc and Selenium, also plays its part, helping to stabilise cell walls and protect from sun damage.
- Water. A lot of it.
Other studies have also suggested that reducing calorie intake in general by as much as 35% may slow down the cellular aging process, too. It is also advisable to limit the intake of sugar, dairy and highly processed foods. This is because excess sugar can dry out the skin, bind to and damage collagen and cause over inflammation – all carrying negative effects.
No, we’re not saying you should never have fun, but here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Alcohol. Reducing your intake in general is always going to be advisable for overall health – you knew that already. But research has specifically shown that it could lower the risk of skin cancer. It is also important for liver function, which is responsible for breaking down and flushing out toxins.
- Smoking. Again, we don’t need to point out the dangers of smoking. For skin in particular, however, due to the narrowing of blood vessels and subsequently reduced blood flow, nutrients and oxygen that comes with the unhealthy habit, you’re looking at diminished elasticity– made all the worse by the repetitive movement of pursing the lips while smoking which can create permanent wrinkles. Tobacco also damages collagen and elastin – a big no-no.
- Sleep. The phrase ‘beauty sleep’ doesn’t come from nowhere. Yup, ensuring you get between seven and nine hours a night will have an overall positive effect on skin function. This is because the body kicks into repair and regenerate mode during deep sleep, doing wonders for that all-important collagen boost. Some specific benefits you’ll notice include a banishing of dark circles around your eyes, enhanced tone and reduced aging.
- Exercise. Also has a positive effect.
Keep on top of mental health
When we talk about internal health, it’s not just the physical side of things that can have an effect on your skin. Ever noticed, for example, a spot popping up on your face just before an important event? That’s because scientists have identified some links between stress and skin problems such as acne, dryness and rashes, posing that stress can increase the amount of sebum in the body (the oily substance that keeps skin moisturised but can also block pores). Excess adrenalin and cortisol – hormones associated with stress – can also encourage the breakdown of collagen over time, as well as depleting our levels of Vitamin C and weakening the gut, which can also lead to increased inflammation.
Feeling stressed? Book yourself in for a relaxing massage or facial here
Featured image: Manuel Alejandro Leon/Pixabay