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The Healthy Skin Diet

Posted: January 30, 2013

There's a biological connection between our bodies and the food we eat. So then, if we really are what we eat ... what should we be eating for healthy skin?

Macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins and lipids) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) work together to ensure a properly functioning epidermal barrier against environmental assaults, according to Claudia Aguirre, PhD, from the The International Dermal Institute. The skin’s typical ailments range from dehydration, dryness, photodamage, inflammation and aging. Many scientific studies support the role nutrition plays in these key areas.

Here are some of Aguirre's tips on how to improve your skin: 

Dryness

A lack of either lipid content or water content means rough, flaky and vulnerable skin. A diet rich in essential fatty acids can help skin retain its organized brick-and-mortar model. Dietary fats are processed by the liver for delivery to skin and other tissues. Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are essential for skin function and can even modulate the skin’s inflammatory response.

Chronically dry skin, as in eczema, will benefit from a diet rich in EFAs from oils and whole foods. In particular, Omega-3 fatty acids can help protect skin from photodamage and photoaging, while Omega-6 can alleviate symptoms associated with skin sensitivity and inflammatory skin disorders.

Stock your grocery basket with:

• Wild-caught salmon

• Flaxseeds

• Walnuts

• Evening Primrose Oil

• Borage Oil

Photodamage

As we know, the sun is a powerful star. Ultraviolet rays penetrate through clouds, windows and our own skin layers. UV rays deplete antioxidant levels in the skin, including ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E). A diet rich in these antioxidant vitamins can be part of a well-rounded approach to limiting photodamage. An added bonus to vitamin C? It is also a necessary component of building collagen in the skin, which decreases with age and even more so with sun damage. Like many nutrients, some are even better when combined. Supplementing the diet with Vitamin C and E combined can increase the photoprotective effect of our skin better than with either of these alone.

Stock your grocery basket with:

• Bell peppers

• Broccoli

• Strawberries

• Wheat germ

• Avocados

For more information on how nutrition plays a role in skin health, The International Dermal Institute (IDI) is hosting a guest lecture with Aguirre on Monday, April 22, at IDI New York.