Before you scroll down to the Top 5 foods for your skin, I would like to make something perfectly clear. Any unprocessed, whole, fresh food which comes from nature, whether it’s a vegetable, fruit, nut, seed, grain, herb, legume is essentially great for your skin and overall health. Nature essentially designed its treasures in a way that helps us thrive with all the necessary nutrients which are found in natural, whole foods. However, once we start interfering with this amazing process by eating man made, heavily processed foods which are filled with preservatives, pesticides, hormones, refined sugars and other toxic ingredients, we greatly impact not only our digestive and endocrine system but also the health of our skin.
What I’m trying to say is that you can use this list below as a reminder that nature does provide you with everything you need to be glowing inside and out. So the next time you feed your skin with nature’s whole foods, make sure to say a silent “Thank you” to our nature and see how your glow is coming back the natural way.
1. Flaxseeds and Flaxseed Oil
Known to contain twice as much omega-3 as fish oil, these tiny seeds are nutrition powerhouses. Besides their high essential fatty acid content, they are a great source of fiber, magnesium and manganese. Due to their high level of omega-3 fatty acids, flax seeds have an anti-inflammatory, healing effect on the digestive system and ultimately the skin, making it a must for anybody who has rosacea, acne, dermatitis and psoriasis. This superfood truly hydrates and moisturizes the skin from within.
Tip: Make sure to ingest only ground flaxseeds or flaxseed oil as whole flaxseeds can’t be broken down and properly digested by our bodies. Flaxseed oil tastes delicious in salad dressings and cold summer soups.
I like to call avocado nature’s answer to an après sun lotion for the skin. Its high anti-oxidant content in the form of Vitamin E, C and carotenoids protect your skin from free radical damage caused by the sun and other environmental aggressors. It also contains beneficial nutrients, that ensure elasticity of your skin and the monounsaturated fatty acids provide constant hydration, leaving your skin plump, dewy and soft. Besides its nutrient density, avocados are known for their versatility. You can literally add them to anything from salads, pasta sauces, soups and desserts. If you happen to get tired of eating them (which I hope you never will), then you can even apply them topically on your skin to get that beautiful glow.
Tip: If you only need half of the avocado, simply keep the pit on the other half to prevent it from darkening. Sprinkling it with a bit of lemon juice or vinegar works too.
3. Probiotic rich foods, such as Sauerkraut, Kimchi, Tempeh, Miso, Kombucha
Probiotic-rich foods are gut and skin healing foods. Probiotics help us restore a healthy digestive system by replenishing beneficial bacteria in our gut. These good bacteria have a long list of benefits including, but not limited to, fighting off bad bacteria, boosting our immune system, and preventing inflammation. Sauerkraut is also a great source of Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that protects the skin from environmental damage.
Tip: True fermented products should be always stored in the fridge section in the supermarket. If it is not cooled, it has most likely been pasteurized, and therefore lost its beneficial live organisms.
I still don’t know why kale and cauliflower are more “popular superfoods” as good old broccoli comes out on top in almost every nutritional category (and taste in my opinion). Its high antioxidant content, especially Vitamin C, keeps the skin healthy and supple, while Vitamin E protects the skin cell membranes. Furthermore, this green vegetable is rich in a certain phytonutrient, which has been connected with reversing the negative effects of sun exposure. Last but not least, its high fiber and low calorie content is just another added bonus on its long list of benefits.
Tip: Put a gluten-free twist to staple dishes such as tabbouleh or sushi and replace the grains with finely chopped broccoli. Broccoli rice is super delicious!
5. Sweet Potatoes
Unlike potatoes, sweet potatoes are actually an anti-diabetic food, as they are known to stabilize blood sugar. They also contain a unique protein, which has significant anti-oxidant effects that prevents oxidative damage to our skin cells. One sweet potato alone provides you with more than 100% of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin A and E, which are both essential vitamins for your skin’s health. This root vegetable is also a great source of Vitamin C and its skin is a good source of iron (if you eat the skin, make sure you buy organic).
Tip: Steaming and boiling sweet potatoes, rather than roasting or even frying them, preserve their low glycemic index and most of their nutritional value.
Published for Tata Harper's blog on August 14th 2016.