Glowing skin is a sign of inner health. Poor health, especially poor gut health, is often displayed on your skin. The link between your gut and your skin is called the gut-skin-axis and glowing skin requires an optimal intake of nutrients. Skin cells grow and divide rapidly, and each time they do so they need a boost of nutrients for their growth and function. Our nutritionists explain the best foods and vitamins for glowing skin.
Best foods for glowing skin
Kiwis may be small but they're a powerhouse for healthy skin. Not only are they rich in Vitamin C which is essential for healthy collagen production (see below), they also work directly on the gut-skin axis.
Kiwis contain a type of fibre which is not found in many other foods. This fibre feeds the good bacteria in your gut, epically the bacteria which are sensitive to oxygen and cannot be taken as a supplement. Providing a food source for the probiotics in your gut encourages their growth and production of 'short chain fatty acids' which help to nourish the gut and control inflammation levels in the entire body, including your skin.
Kiwis also promote proper bowel function which is important for the removal of toxins out of the body – otherwise they are pushed out through the skin which contributes towards some types of acne and inflamed skin. Check out our blog 'How to look after your gut through your diet'.
Berries & cherries
Berries and cherries are abundant with a natural plant colouring agent called proanthocyanidin (pro-antho-cyan-idin). The darker the berry, the more proanthocyanidins they contain.
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Proanthocyanidins are potent natural antioxidants – meaning they protect the skin from harmful oxidants which come from the sun, pollution and poor dietary choices.
One of the biggest beneficiaries of protection provided by proanthocyanidins is the collagen in your skin. Collagen is the stretchy, structural component of your skin which helps to prevent wrinkling and requires antioxidant protection. If you're looking for berries in your diet, try our delicious Simple Berry Fitness Bars recipe.
Chia seeds, flax seeds and sources of Omega 3
The skin cell membrane is rich in fat, and the type of fat in a diet will determine which type of fat is incorporated into your skin cell membrane.
Omega 3 rich foods including chia seeds and flax seeds are essential for skin health. Omega 3 is a flexible fat, and when used in the skin cells, it keeps the skin flexible, moisturised and less likely to crack or flake. Omega 3 fats also promote the production of anti-inflammatory hormones in the body, decreasing any excess skin inflammation and face redness.
Saturated fats on the other hand, which includes fats from butter, biscuits, palm oil and meat, for example, are hard fats. When hard fats are incorporated into the skin cell membrane, the skin becomes less flexible and more likely to crack.
Vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, broccoli and mustard greens are rich in isothiocyanates.
Isothiocyanates are substances which support the function of the liver and protect the liver from damage from toxins, including alcohol. Alcohol puts a burden on the liver and may cause a backlog of toxins in the body which will then be pushed out through the skin causing outbreaks of spots.
Reducing alcohol intake and increasing the consumption of cruciferous vegetables such as Brussels sprouts will help to keep your skin glowing.
Best vegan vitamins for glowing skin
Vitamin A is an essential nutrient for the skin and is especially important to those on a plant-based diet.
Vitamin A is needed each time a new skin cell is created, and it helps the skin cells function effectively by promoting natural moisturisation, giving it a radiant glow. Vitamin A is required especially for the top 2 layers of the skin, called the dermis and the epidermis. Vitamin A is also essential for the healing of your skin and the immune health of your skin.
In its active form, Vitamin A is difficult to consume on a plant-based diet. Most of the Vitamin A that vegans have in their body is made from beta-carotene, the orange pigment in foods such as carrots and peppers. Sometimes however, the body is unable to effectively convert beta carotene into Vitamin A, meaning that a supplement may be required.
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Vitamin C & Protein
Many people talk about collagen benefits for the skin. Collagen is the main flexible and structural component in skin. As we age, our levels of collagen decline, leading to wrinkling and sagging skin. It is simply the loss of collagen which causes wrinkles.
Collagen-only supplements get broken down into their individual amino acids before they are of any benefit, so without Vitamin C they are essentially expensive protein supplements. If you follow a plant based or vegan diet, focus on your intake of Vitamin C combined with protein rich foods for healthier skin.
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Vitamin B12 deficiency may be associated with pigmentation changes on the skin, which includes the formation of age spots. Check out our blog '5 signs you may be low in Vitamin B12'.
Age spots are spots on the skin with darker pigmentation compared to the rest of the skin. Fortunately this is reversible with the correction of Vitamin B12 levels. Vegans struggle to get enough Vitamin B12 in their diet because it is found in almost all foods of animal origin. Vitamin B12 is essential for many body functions from healthy energy to your brain and immunity, so if you follow a plant-based or vegan diet it is advised to take a daily Vitamin B12 supplement.
Remember, the outer layer of your skin cells renew themselves every 28-31 days, so if you do make positive changes to your diet for better skin, you may not see the benefit on your skin for around four weeks!
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