A mildly appropriate photo utilized for the sake of today’s topic — no make up and an excited face ready to talk about healthy things!
This is a picture of myself in the backroom of a doctor’s office I used to intern for in the beginning of the year.
When I first made my big move to the Big Apple, I was very contingent on working in the medical field.
From an early age, holistic medicine and healing fascinated me.
I remembering reading books like, The Herb Bible, and Raw Foods.
And though I did have my dirty days of sweets every blue moon, I made sure that I was consciously aware of all that I put into my body.
From the age of 12 until about 15, I had terrible skin. And by terrible, I mean, acne like it was no one’s business — and gosh was it embarrassing.
I mean, it wasn’t as graphic as modern day television sometimes makes having teenage adolescent skin out to be, but it wasn’t the prettiest thing to behold.
Of course, around this age, everyone I went to high school with had some kind of moderate version of acne, so I didn’t really feel my case was all that different. That was until all of my friends began seeing dermatologist and their skin started to clear up. That’s when it kicked in that I not only needed a solution, but I wanted it — badly.
Folks, I had tried everything from Proactive to Acne Free, dermatologist recommended, over the counter prescription drugs, you name it!
They all had a short term effect on my skin and then eventually my skin would return to it’s pimply state.
It wasn’t until I changed my diet for the better, adding more nutritional value and vitamins, and cutting out all meats with the exception of fish, did my skin not only appear completely blackhead and acne free, but it glowed and looked younger! My exterior appearance stayed naturally hydrated in the winter without moisturizing additives, and was peel resistant in the summer and warm weather.
Below, with the help of a handful of respectable sources, I have composed a list of superfoods; some of which are in my personal dietary list today, and others I’ve come to understand work wonders for people and their skin.
SuperFoods for Healthy Skin!
These tiny purple fruits are one of the most potent forms of antioxidants in the world, and as such, are fabulous for skin health, as they help to eliminate toxins and free radicals in the body. If you can’t get hold of them fresh, most health food shops tell concentrated juices and tablets – just be sure to go for natural products free from additives and artificial sugars.
Tiny but mighty, each stringy sprout is packed with valuable, skin-clearing nutrients such as calcium, folic acid, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, silicon, sodium and zinc among others, as well as supplying a full range of vitamins A, B complex, C, E and K. Who needs multivitamins when you can sprinkle a few of these on your salad? They’re relatively inexpensive, too, and available from most health food shops.
Hey, guess what? Almonds are seeds, not nuts, and they’re stuffed with vitamin E, a potent sun blocker. Volunteers who consumed 14 milligrams of the vitamin per day (about 20 almonds) and then were exposed to UV light sunburned less than those who took none. Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant that helps to protect skin cells from UV light and other environmental factors that generate cell-damaging free radicals.
This slippery green fruit is widely known to be a great source of vitamin E, which boosts the skin’s vitality and luminosity. However, it also possesses good quantities of vitamin C, which can be used to reduce skin inflammation, while avocado oil is thought to stimulate the production of collagen in the skin, which improves its tone and texture. Eating a regular portion of avocado (half a pear will do!) can also improve the skin’s ability to keep itself moisturised.
They might stain your fingers, but the skin-clearing properties of beetroots are well worth the effort. The purple roots are particularly high in vitamin A, as well as potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin E, which is essential for epidermal health and healing. Combined, these nutrients make a powerful all-round body cleanser, helping to eliminate toxins from the body and lower cholesterol too.
Apart from kale, we struggle to think of a vegetable more worthy of the ‘super’ title than broccoli. Antioxidants like vitamins A, B complex, C, E, and K all help to add luminosity to the skin and to revive damaged tissue, while omega 3 fatty acids, calcium and folate support the healing process and aid the proper function of skin cells. Eat raw in a salad or lightly steamed to get the most out of your florets.
It has been suggested that steady blood sugar levels and skin health could be linked, so it makes sense to try swapping out processed white carbohydrates for brown, wholegrain, low glycemic index foods like brown rice. A portion a day not only provides a rich source of B vitamins, protein, selenium and magnesium, as well as several antioxidants, but also helps to regulate your sugar levels by releasing energy slowly throughout the day rather than all at once like processed carbs do.
Cocoa — Dark Chocolate
Cocoa hydrates your skin, making it firmer and more supple, Dr. Bank says. “And dark chocolate contains high levels of flavonols, a potent type of antioxidant,” adds Nicholas Perricone, MD, a dermatologist in New York City. For maximum flavonol content, eat chocolate that’s at least 70 percent cacao. A couple of squares a day should be enough to improve luminosity. “When applied topically, the caffeine in chocolate may temporarily reduce skin puffiness,” says Jessica Wu, MD, a dermatologist in Los Angeles and the author of Feed Your Face.
These wee seeds contain omega-3 fatty acids, which erase spots and iron out fine lines. The British Journal of Nutrition reported that participants in one study who downed just over two grams (about half a teaspoon) of O-3’s in six weeks experienced significantly less irritation and redness, along with better-hydrated skin. The fats are believed to stifle your body’s response to irritation and attract water to skin cells to plump up the skin and reduce wrinkles. Sprinkle seeds on oatmeal or veggies.
If you’re not familiar with this liquorice-flavoured root vegetable already – get to know it. Aside from aiding digestion, reducing swelling in the body and helping to flush out excess fluids and toxins, it also works wonders for the health of your skin and hair, so pick up a box of tea or pick up a few roots for roasting.
Each clove of garlic is full of a naturally occurring chemical called allicin, which, when digested, reacts with the blood to create a product capable of killing off many harmful bacteria and viruses your body might be harbouring – including that which causes acne and other skin infections. Couple this with a potent cocktail of antioxidants, and it’s almost unbeatable. To get the most out of garlic, eat raw, chopped finely into a salad or stirred into a meal before serving.
Green tea is very high in antioxidants, particularly one named EGCG, which is proved to reduce redness. Studies have also demonstrated that green tea helps fight inflammation. Sip at least one cup of green tea a day. Drinking anti-oxidant polyphenol-rich green tea will improve your skin’s youthful appearance and aid your body with overall lasting and natural energy.
Any healing process needs protein and energy, and legumes – peas, beans, and lentils – have both these things in abundance. They also contain a potent cocktail of vitamins and minerals as well as being particularly high in dietary fibre, which aids the body’s natural digestion process and assists detoxification. All these things help in the battle for clearer skin, so try switching your usual portion of carbohydrates for a few spoons of beans and see if it helps.
Forget cabbage – kale contains a full range of vitamins A, B complex, C, E and K, as well as potent levels of manganese, calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium, protein, folate and phosphorus (phew!). We love adding a handful of kale into a soup with some of the other ingredients listed here for a real skin-clearing tonic.
Not only does kiwi taste good, but it’s also packed with antioxidant vitamins C and E, which help protect against UV damage. One study even showed that kiwi can help you achieve a radiance akin to a tan in just a few weeks. And vitamin C has long been linked with less skin dryness and wrinkling.
Nettles get a bad rep for being a stingy garden nuisance, but taken in tea, capsule or soup form, you might be surprised to discover they have an anti-inflammatory effect, helping to calm the skin and improve conditions like eczema and acne. They’re also extremely detoxifying, thanks to high levels of antioxidants which protect the body from the over-production of free radicals – chemicals which can cause damage to proteins, fats, carbohydrates surprised to discover they have an anti-inflammatory effect, helping to calm the skin and improve conditions like eczema and acne. They’re also extremely detoxifying, thanks to high levels of antioxidants which protect the body from the over-production of free radicals – chemicals which can cause damage to proteins, fats, carbohydrates and DNA in the body. Stock up on nettle tea from your local health food shop and see if it makes a difference.
Oats — Oatmeal
Steel-cut oatmeal is less processed than other varieties, so it retains more vitamins. Plus, it takes longer to break down in your body, which helps keep your blood sugar stable. This is important because studies found that spiked blood sugar elevates your body’s level of androgens, hormones that can contribute to wrinkles. Oats are also exceptionally skin healing.
There is some evidence to suggest that removing dairy products from the diet can ease the symptoms of acne in some sufferers. However, there is little way of telling whether this will work for you or not unless you try substituting milk for an alternative and monitoring your progress over time. Oat milk is high in fibre, lactose free and is particularly high in vitamin E and folic acid, which supports healthy skin and makes it a great milk alternative. Pick up a carton from your local supermarket to try it out.
It’s really hard to pick fault with a steaming cup of peppermint tea, which is known for its potent healing and calming properties. Not only can it help to aid digestion, relieve stress – a common acne aggravator – treat headaches and clear sinuses, but it’s seriously good for the skin, too. Try swapping it in for your usual cup of builders’ brew and see if it makes a difference.
Pomegranates are packed with polyphenol antioxidants. Polyphenols fight free radicals and regulate skin’s blood flow, giving it rosiness. One pomegranate or a few glasses of juice daily should do the trick. When applied to skin, the fruits’ antioxidants help smooth lines and moisturize.
Women who eat green and yellow vegetables regularly tend to have fewer wrinkles, especially around the eyes. Also, studies found that carotenoids — the antioxidants in yellow and orange veggies — can decrease skin’s sensitivity to the sun, Dr. Bank says. Aim for about two cups of peppers daily.
Not keen on seafood? Try sprinkling a handful of pumpkin seeds over your salad instead. Each kernel is high in vitamin E, zinc and omega 3 & 6 fatty acids, making them a good veggie skin clearing substitute.
It is thought that red grapes – and their seeds – contain powerful natural chemicals and antioxidants that have been shown to treat inflammatory skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema. As a natural antihistamine, grapes can also help to control the side effects of allergic reactions. Try popping a few washed grapes (with seeds) into a fresh salad, or enjoy a handful as part of a healthy snack between meals.
Salmon and other cold water fish. Also, the high protein it contains can help to speed up the skin’s natural healing process.
You could probably build a fortress against the Big C with these leaves. In a study published in the International Journal of Cancer, people who ate the most leafy greens actually had half as many skin tumors over 11 years as those who ate the least. It’s thought that the folate in these veggies may help repair and maintain DNA—basically bolstering cells’ ability to renew themselves. That reduces the likelihood of cancer-cell growth. The added bonus to Popeye’s fix: The water in greens penetrates cell membranes—which makes for plumper and less wrinkled skin.
You think oranges have a lot of vitamin C? Strawberries have even more. Vitamin C is key for firmer skin as it helps with collagen production. An added benefit: they also contain antioxidants that can help slow memory loss as you get older.
There is evidence to suggest that high cortisone levels, one of the main hormones released by the adrenal gland in response to stress, can lead to break-outs. Regulating fluctuating blood sugar levels can help us to combat stress by lifting our moods. Try eating vitamin-packed complex carbohydrates, which release sugar slowly over time, like sweet potato. The root vegetable also contains beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A when it is digested, and can help to improve the circulation of oxygen to the skin.
Loaded with vitamin E, sunflower seeds keep your skin supple by protecting its top layers from the sun. Eat a handful daily. A high essential-fatty-acid content makes sunflower seed oil a treat for parched body parts, such as lips and heels.
Tomatoes are rich in vitamin C, which helps to keep the skin firm and taut by aiding collagen production. They also contain lycopene: the red pigment which not only gives them their bright red colour, but also stimulates skin circulation.
Walnuts contain omega-3 essential fatty acids, which can improve skin’s elasticity. The nuts are also loaded with copper, a mineral that boosts collagen production. Snack on a handful of walnuts each day to improve your complexion’s texture, and slough tough calluses.
Clear skin starts from within, and one of the best, cheapest and most effective ways to get there is to help your body flush out toxins by drink plenty of water. Not only will upping your fluid levels help to keep your brains fully functional and therefore better able to cope with stress, but it also replenishes water in the cells. Make sure you drink the recommended eight glasses of water a day, and drink more after exercise.
Next time you make a salad, try substituting a few lettuce leaves for some peppery watercress. The leafy greens are jammed full of antioxidants as well as minerals manganese, carotene and potassium. This makes watercress a powerful cleansing agent, nourishing the skin while helping to flush out toxins and excess fluids in the process. Bonus!