Listen to my Green Divas Beauty & Health segment about foods for awesome skin…
I’ve often said skin health comes down to three things:
1. Genetics (Thanks, Mom!).
3. What we put in our bodies.
While our skin is a great reflection of what else is going on with our health, it’s also a hard working detoxification organ. Skin is the body’s first line of defense against everything from UV rays to air pollution.
To look and feel your best in your skin, here are a few things to add to your plate:
Coconut oil has been all over health news the past few years, and with good reason! It is just as wonderful for your skin when it’s part of your diet as it is when you use it topically. The lauric acid (a medium chain fatty acid) helps keep skin cell membranes healthy, and when converted by the body to monolaurin has antiviral, antimicrobial, antiprotozoal and antifungal properties.
Besides being awesome in smoothies, avocados are another great source of fatty acids, including oleic acid, which can help with regenerating damaged skin cells to reduce redness and inflammation. If that wasn’t enough, avocados also contain beta carotene and Vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant cocktail for the skin (and the rest of the body).
Blueberries and many of their other anthocyanin-containing friends are superstars when skin health is concerned. Dark red, blue and purple fruits and vegetables contain this anti-oxidant in high quantities. If you ever wondered why anti-oxidants are important, consider how rust (or oxidative stress) affects metal; anti-oxidants are the key to keeping us from getting “rusty” prematurely.
Tomatoes and other juicy lycopene-rich fruits (like red grapefruit and papaya) are a huge support to sun damaged or inflamed skin. Lycopene is a carotenoid (like beta carotene) anti-oxidant, and has been found to reduce the affects of sun damage on the skin by 35 percent! Since most of us reach adulthood with at least a little sun damage, adding the occasional tomato and basil salad for our skin health sounds like a great summer plan.
Turmeric is a spice, long used in Indian food and fast gaining cult status in the wellness community. It’s anti-inflammatory (and reportedly anti-cancer!) benefits make it a winner for skin health, and it’s boost to liver and immune function are worth considering too.
If your liver is overworked from too many chemicals, too much junk food or alcohol, one place you’ll notice this sluggishness is your skin. I like to make a turmeric and warm almond milk drink as part of my bedtime routine. It helps me settle down and absorb all that turmeric goodness while I sleep.
And one to skip:
Most of us crave something sweet, at least once in awhile. Listening to what our bodies want is a huge part of optimal health. But there is a huge difference between listening to our bodies and administering self-care, and using food for self-indulgence instead of investigating what we actually need.
Does the desire for sweetness stem from a need for nourishing foods with a sweet taste? When we take out processed sugar, we start to notice just how sweet many whole foods are. A ripe nectarine, a roasted sweet potato…or some Medjool dates! Sometimes that desire for sweetness creeps up when we need activities that are sweet and nourishing to our hearts: a talk with a good friend, a walk somewhere green, a nap.
When we attempt to address this desire with refined sugar, we begin a hormonal cascade in our bodies. We add to system-wide inflammation—which damages much more than just our skin. I’m not about to recommend everyone switch from cupcakes to apples at their birthday, or replace Christmas cookies with carrots, but consider treating sugar as the intense thing that it is.
Watch out for added sugar in your every day foods by reducing the amount of packaged, processed and restaurant foods you eat. Instead of mindlessly eating several crappy mass-produced cookies “because you deserve a treat,” have sugar in a high quality homemade or bakery cookie. Your body is amazing—treat it like it’s your friend, and give it the very best.
You might enjoy this humorous post, “Top 7 Don’ts on a Detox.“
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