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Food for Your Skin

By: Elaine Linker
Posted: June 6, 2008, from the February 2007 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

Research suggests that deficiencies in vital nutrients, proteins and essential fatty acids can sabotage the health and beauty of your skin. Skin care and nutraceutical companies routinely promise a healthier, younger appearance through the use of nutritional supplements. Surveys indicate that there are a growing number of Americans who purchase over-the-counter supplements because they believe that their diets do not adequately support health, disease prevention and
anti-aging. Books about the relationship between nutrition and beauty are making best-seller lists, while skin care formulations are more widely available today than ever. What follows is some insight into the role that diet plays in skin care.

Nutrition’s role

Science continues to support the idea that a healthy, well-balanced diet not only reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes and possibily certain types of cancer, but also contributes to a feeling of vitality and energy. The foods you eat contain nutrients; these nutrients come in the form of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, amino acids, carbohydrates and lipids. They sustain life by providing the body with the basic materials needed for its daily functions. Research has shown that each part of the body contains high concentrations of certain nutrients, and that a nutritional deficiency will cause the body part to malfunction and, eventually, break down.

To keep this from happening, you need to maintain a proper diet. The skin’s ability to defend itself against environmental damage as well as to renew and repair itself is supported by these nutrients. With proper nutrition, exercise and stress management, you substantially can affect the aging process and the youthful look of the skin. It is important to remember, however, that it’s not about what you eat—it’s about what you digest and absorb. Unless you can digest your foods, you can’t get all their nutrients into your cells. When eating for health and beauty, it is important to remember that nutrients and other food components work together in a complex way in your body. No matter how healthy a food may be, it needs to be part of a balanced eating plan.

Foods make an impact

Essential fatty acids have been used in moisturizers for years, but now dermatologists see evidence that diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids can help combat dry skin conditions. “I see an improvement in my eczema and psoriasis patients when they increase their intake of omega-rich foods” said Howard Sobel, MD, director of Skin & Spa Medi-Center in New York City.

In a study conducted at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield, England, 28 patients with chronic psoriasis were treated with either fish oil capsules or placebos daily. After eight weeks, patients who consumed the fish oil reported significantly less itching and scaling.*