Good skin is more than skin deep. Your epidermis is a reflection of your overall health and just like any other body system, it requires the right nutrients. Many different nutrients should be included in your good skin recipe, but today we’re focusing on a particular group of powerful, skin-saving, nutrients known as antioxidants.
Antioxidants and skin health: how these nutrients help you look your best
We all know the benefits of eating a healthy diet for our overall health and to prevent illness and chronic diseases like Type 2 diabetes and heart disease, but did you know that what we eat also has a profound impact on the health and appearance of our skin?
Our skin is our largest organ. Yes, it’s an organ. And just like our other organs and body systems, it is negatively impacted by free radical damage.
Free radicals are unstable molecules that damage our cells, aka. “oxidative damage”. When it comes to our skin, oxidative damage can cause signs of premature aging (think fine lines, wrinkles, dull, saggy skin) and also contribute to inflammation, redness, and breakouts.
The obvious free radical offenders to remember are: excessive sun, smoking, stress, sugar and S.A.D (a.k.a. the Standard American Diet, which is high in sugar and processed foods).
Antioxidants are, basically, like little bodyguards inside your body that fight against those pesky free radicals and protect against that, aforementioned, damage (totally unscientific explanation, but it does the trick).
While aging is a gift and wrinkles are a natural part of life, it is possible to slow down the process. So, we recommend getting less of the above offenders and more amazing antioxidants for good, glowing skin.
If this has you begging the question: how do I get MORE antioxidants so my body can fight the good fight and keep my skin healthy and glowing, read on!
Our top 5 antioxidants for healthy skin
There are LOTS of foods that are just loaded with the antioxidant superpower. We’re going to list our top 5 antioxidants to remember for good skin, plus the foods they’re found in so you can include them on your next grocery or farmer’s market run:
1. VITAMIN C
Not only is vitamin C a key nutrient to get your body producing and protecting your precious collagen, but it’s one of the most powerful skin-specific antioxidants to boot. We actually have a lot of vitamin C in our skin and consuming more of this water-soluble vitamin works to bind and remove free radicals from the skin which works to prevent skin aging.
FIND IT IN THESE FOODS: Red peppers, blackcurrants, blueberries, broccoli, guava, kiwi fruit, oranges, papaya, strawberries.
2. VITAMIN A
Rough, dry and prematurely aged skin is a telltale sign of vitamin A deficiency, which often first manifests as rough, raised skin on the back of the arms. There are two types of vitamin A: retinoids (preformed vitamin A) found in meats, and carotenoids like beta carotene found in colourful fruits and veggies. Both types are converted to retinol by the liver and work to repair the skin, including repair from sunburn and damage from toxins.
FIND IT IN THESE FOODS:
- Beta Carotene: Carrots, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, leafy green vegetables, mangoes, apricots, and plums.
- Preformed Vitamin A: cod liver oil, eggs, salmon, shrimp, butter.
3. VITAMIN E
We’re turning up for tocopherol (Vitamin E) when it comes to its positive antioxidant effects on the skin. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant that has been well-studied for its protective qualities against UV damage.
FIND IT IN THESE FOODS: Avocado, spinach, almonds, sunflower seeds, fatty fish.
This trace mineral is an antioxidant nutrient intricately involved in the normal functioning of the sebaceous glands in the skin (which produce oil) and helps to protect against UV radiation, repair skin damage and keep skin soft and supple.
FIND IT IN THESE FOODS: Oysters, baked beans, beef, pumpkin seeds, tempeh.
Turmeric root, which is responsible for that vibrant yellow hue in curry, is where we find this active antioxidant compound called curcumin. Besides its ability to fight free radical damage, curcumin is also a highly-researched anti-inflammatory, which has been shown to have positive impacts on wound healing and balancing skin conditions.
FIND IT IN THESE FOODS: Turmeric root, dried turmeric powder and curry powder.
We hope you’re as excited about the skin-loving power of antioxidants as we are and start ramping up your fresh fruit and vegetable intake asap. If you’re having a hard time including enough produce in your skin-beautifying protocol, we’ve got lots of antioxidant-rich supplements to keep you on track.
Don’t forget, any changes to your diet will not cause an overnight miracle. It takes about six weeks for new skin to emerge up to the surface, so the visible benefits from dietary changes will take just as long. For persistent skin conditions, be sure to talk to your GP, ND or consider seeing a dermatologist.