Your skin is an outward indicator of your inner health and skin problems are often a reaction to an imbalance of minerals, toxins, oxidative stress or inflammation within the body. Unfortunately, shelling out on expensive revitalizing creams, face lotions and other fancy skin treatments won’t solve your skin problems. These only work on the outside and are simply unable to replace the important nutrients that your body might be lacking. In fact, eating a healthy, balanced diet and avoiding processed foods, packed with refined sugars and harmful additives, is the only way to achieve great looking skin.
The importance of maintaining a healthy skin
A healthy skin is not only important for our general appearance and self esteem, as after all, beauty is only skin deep. The skin is also our largest organ and one that protects our underlying muscles, bones, ligaments and other internal organs. It’s our first line of defence from external toxins and plays a crucial role in protecting us from pathogens and excessive water loss. It’s responsible for insulation, temperature regulation, sensation and the production of vitamin D folates, so it’s vital that we take proper care of it. Yet, the latest report from the British Association of Dermatologists revealed that around half of the UK population have some form of skin problem, the most common being acne, eczema and psoriasis. And according to the British Skin Foundation a shocking 47% of sufferers are subject to verbal abuse as a result.
There are several organs that cleanse our body and in doing so keep our skin pure and clean. These include the liver, kidneys, adrenals, thyroid and intestines. The liver and kidneys work continually to ensure that harmful substances are filtered from our body, yet an unhealthy diet can overload them, resulting in the appearance of skin rashes and other skin disorders. The adrenals secrete essential hormones including pregnenolone, DHEA, oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Interestingly, hormonal imbalance is a key cause of skin complaints such as acne. The thyroid gland also produces important hormones, and if you have a dry, scaly or inelastic skin, you could be suffering from a malfunctioning thyroid gland. Lastly, the intestines provide your body with essential nutrients and are responsible for waste removal. If they cannot do their job properly, your skin will become visibly thick, oily and impure.
Essential nutrients for healthy skin
Achieving a flawless, beautiful looking skin is only possible if you provide your body with all of the nutrients it needs to cleanse itself in a natural way. Which is why a healthy, balanced diet, rich in bioavailable organic foods is the most powerful skin treatment available. There are also certain nutrients, which can actively contribute to a clean, radiant skin. These include:
Water – required to keep both your body and skin adequately hydrated.
Protein – a beneficial nutrient that promotes the growth and repair of cells, including skin cells
Oils and fats – unsaturated fats which form a protective layer on our skin, preventing moisture loss and resulting in a soft and supple skin. At least 25% of our skin is comprised of these fats.
Vitamins – help protect the skin and prevent it from aging. Vitamin A for example, is used to produce retinoids that contribute to the regulation of keratin formation in our skin cells. Vitamin C visibly reduces the signs of aging, aids in the creation of collagen and is a powerful antioxidant, which protect our skin from free radicals. Tocopherol, a fat-soluble vitamin E also protects our skin from the harmful effects of free radicals.
Carotenoids – natural, yellow and red dyes, such as β-carotene, lutein and lycopene, which protect our skin by absorbing light.
Polyphenols – protect against skin damage caused by UV radiation
Minerals – iron plays an integral role in the growth, maintenance and healthy appearance of our skin. Zinc, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium all contribute to the antioxidant content of the skin, whilst zinc encourages the production of collagen.
The natural skin treatment – 4 superfoods for superb looking skin
To enjoy the benefits of great looking skin, without spending a small fortune on expensive skin treatments, try incorporating the following four superfoods (rich in many of the beneficial nutrients listed above), into your daily diet.
Coconut oil is extremely rich in vegetable saturated fatty acids that not only help maintain a healthy skin, but also prevent heart disease, fight infection, strengthen the body’s natural immunity and promote weight loss. Coconut oil restores the skin’s natural fat content at a cellular level and stimulates the absorption of essential fatty acids such as omega-3, oemga-6 and other fatty acids including choline and lecithin. It’s extremely nourishing and caring for the skin and, as its hypoallergenic, can be even used as an external skin treatment in the form of a massage oil. As coconut oil can survive extremely high temperatures without losing its nutritional value, it makes an ideal replacement for cooking oil and can be used for frying, stir frying and roasting.
Aloe Vera contains around 200 active compounds and over 75 beneficial nutrients, including 18 amino acids and 12 vitamins. In addition to anti-microbial properties that fight fungus and bacteria, aloe vera contains anti-inflammatory plant steroids and enzymes that aid digestion and strengthen the immune system. And it is one of the most powerful natural skin treatments on the planet. Aloe vera can boost collagen production, gently soothe burns, heal wounds, repair skin damage such as extreme dryness and can even treat eczema. When applied directly to the skin it is an incredibly moisturising skin treatment, which results in both a radiant complexion and even skin tone. Aloe vera can be added to a wide range of healthy drinks such as smoothies, juices, nut milks and shakes and makes a delicious addition to desserts.
Olive oil was revered as “liquid gold” by the Greeks, who considered it an essential part of their daily diet. Greek athletes also recognised olive oil as an effective skin treatment and rubbed it directly onto their skin. Extensive modern studies have shown that olive oil is not only healthy; it can also significantly reduce the risk of various diseases. Olive oil contains omega-9 fatty acids, the same oil produced by our skin and provides soothing relief to those suffering from rough, itching or irritated skin, insect bites, burns, ulcers, eczema or psoriasis. It’s best to purchase only cold pressed, organic, extra virgin olive oil and to enjoy it raw, in salads or as a dip, as some of its valuable nutrients can be lost through cooking. You can also use olive oil as a natural, fragrant bath oil or as an extremely mild make-up remover.
Goji berries are deep red in colour, similar in size to raisins and boast an intense flavour, comparable to a cross between cranberry and cherry. They have an extremely high nutritional value, are rich in antioxidants and possess anti inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. Antioxidants neutralise free radicals, prevent damage to our (skin) cells and reduce inflammation. Goji berries are also the richest source of vitamin C on the planet, which as you already know visibly reduces the signs of aging. Indeed, just one gram of goji berries contains 500 times more vitamin C than the same weight in oranges. Goji berries can be enjoyed as a snack or used in a variety of recipes including smoothies, juices and trail mix and can be used to prepare a delicious cup of tea.