Our skin cells regenerate every 27 days - which means that the foods we eat will determine whether the quality of our skin changes for better...or for worse.
Skin troubles have affected all of us at some point (except my husband, and he literally never washes his face - WTF) - so whether you have dry skin, acne, wrinkles, blackheads, or all of the above, this post is for you.
I personally have very finicky skin, which has caused me to become consistently more aware of how the foods I put into my body affect my skin. I am also not a big fan of wearing much makeup, so feeling confident without the use of heavy foundations or powders to cover up my acne is huge for me.
Maybe you’re already doing everything “right”; eating real food, drinking enough water, supporting your gut health and blood sugar- but you still have a weird combination of acne and premature aging. Although these are all great first steps towards glowing skin, some of the most powerful skin-healing nutrients are found in foods that we may only be eating once or twice a month - if that (grass-fed liver, anyone?)
If this is the case, looking into specific skin-supporting nutrients may be your best friend.
1. TRUE Vitamin A - when most of us think of vitamin A, we think of beta-carotene, the plant-source of the vitamin that gives things like sweet potatoes and carrots their orange hue. The problem with beta-carotene (or carotenoids) is that they are only a precursor to the true form of vitamin A that is needed by the body to support healthy skin; retinol. Of course, a small amount of carotenoids can be converted into retinol, but it is much easier and more efficient to get your vitamin A requirements from true retinol sources. True Vitamin A is important for cell turnover and androgen formation (both helpful in healing acne). It also helps prevent the skin from becoming dry, rough, and scaly. A lack of vitamin A is even known to cause keratosis pilaris (link). Get your true vitamin A from sources like: pasture-raised egg yolks, grass-fed dairy (if tolerated) pasture raised liver*, cod liver oil.
2. Vitamin D - Vitamin D helps to strengthen the immune system and prevent premature aging by destroying free radicals in the body. Get your sources from pasture-raised egg yolks, grass-fed dairy (if tolerated), fatty fish, and pasture raised liver*. Try to avoid “fortified” vitamin D products, as these usually contain Vitamin D2, a synthetic form of Vitamin D that can lead to toxicity in large amounts.
3. Zinc - zinc is an important mineral necessary for various types of healing to occur in the body. For example, sufficient zinc status is necessary for wound healing, UV protection, and immune system regulation. Zinc has been shown to work synergistically in transporting vitamin A (retinol) into the bloodstream, having an extremely healing effect on acne and prevention of wrinkles. Get your zinc from sources like red meat, seafood (oysters, scallops and shellfish) pumpkin seeds and other nuts.
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4. Vitamin C - Vitamin C regulates the production of collagen protein in the skin, which is essential for preventing skin wrinkling as well as protecting agains UV damage by acting as a powerful antioxidant. Vitamin C can also prevent dry skin, heal scar tissue, and modulate moisture loss in the skin. Get your vitamin C from local, organic and raw sources of fruits and vegetables, if possible.
5. Vitamin K2 - Vitamin K2 is one of the more unknown skin-improving nutrients. Dietary K2 helps to improve skin elasticity, preventing wrinkles and fine lines from forming. Vitamin K2 also works synergistically with vitamins A and D, meaning that without a sufficient combination of all 3 in the diet, it is likely for skin related issues to occur. Get your Vitamin K2 from sources like grass-fed dairy (if tolerates), pasture raised egg yolks, pasture raised liver*, and natto. It is important to note that conventionally raised animals will not provide significant levels of k2 due to the fact that these animals primarily eat grains, rather than grass.
6. Omega 3 Fats - Omega 3 fatty acids are essential in reducing inflammatory markers within the body. In the skin, these show up as redness, acne and psoriasis. Consuming adequate levels of omega-3 fats leads to improved skin elasticity, moisture levels, and even texture. Get your Omega-3 fats from food-sources like wild caught sardines, salmon, tuna, mackerel and other cold-water, fatty fish. Chia and flax seeds also contain omega-3s, but in a less bioavailable form than seafood.
7. Probiotic Rich Foods - Consuming probiotic foods are one of the quickest (and tastiest) ways to improve gut function. How does this relate to the skin, you ask? The gut microbiota is directly responsible for levels of inflammation in the body, which can often manifest outwardly via skin conditions like acne, rosacea, psoriasis, and eczema. Also, having improper levels of “good” gut bacteria can lead to things like yeast overgrowth, SIBO (small-intestinal bacterial overgrowth) and parasites - often linked to acne. Get your probiotics from whole food-sources such as kimchi, kefir (if you tolerate dairy), sauerkraut and kombucha. Make sure to choose products that are "live", "raw", and kept in the refrigerated section.
* If the thought of cooking/eating liver is as repulsive to you as it is to me, try out these pasture raised liver capsules from Vital Proteins to get your recommended daily dose. Cooking and preparing it yourself is going to be a much more economical option though, as liver tends to be very inexpensive.
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