This article on natural skin care looks at the various foods, vitamins, minerals and micro-nutrients that positively affect your skin. In addition we’ll look at specific nutrients for specific skin types, as it stands to reason, that oily skin would benefit from some foods, while dry, irritated and sensitive skin would suite other foods.
Before looking at individual food, lets consider some overall factors, which we should consider in our diet.
First and foremost, water. It is essential that we consume 8-10 glasses (250ml) of water per day, more if we exercise or are physically active.
Secondly, regardless of what foods we eat, we should have a minimum of 15 different vegetables, fruits and nuts in our diet (in total that is).
Thirdly, we should eat our biggest meal early in the day and the smallest meal late. Most people do not do this and actually have it the other way around. Think of it from this point of view – at what stage of the day do you have most of your activity in front of you – well, that’s the time to eat the biggest meal.
If you want your skin to look attractive and healthy there are several rules you must follow. The most important is cleansing with natural and reviving substances, because a clean skin is bound to look healthier. Since constant washing removes most natural oils and moisture, and even the acid mantel covering, you must consciously replace these oils, moisture and acids to re-establish the skin’s protective covering.
Your diet should be high in proteins, which can be found in lean meat, fish, and poultry as well as in nuts, beans, milk and eggs. Raw vegetables and fruit of all kinds are essential. Several glasses of water (this is much underestimated in it’s importance) each day are essential to flush the system clear of toxins.
Below is a list of important nutrients, their benefits to the skin and the foods in which they are found. This list is by no means exhaustive, however it does provide a good starting point for utilizing food as part of your skin care regime.
The primary skin types are Oily, Normal and Dry. There are other skin types such as sensitive, mature or a combination there of. However, there is usually a dominant, primary skin type.
Nutrients that benefit your skin and the foods that contain them
Beta-carotene (provitamin A)
Anti-oxidants, neutralize free radicals.
Sweet Potato, Carrot, Kale, Mango, Turnip, Greens Spinach, raw; Papaya, Red Bell Pepper, Apricot, Cantaloupe, Fat Free Milk, Romaine, Eggs, Whole Milk, Raw Tomato, Broccoli, Green Bell Pepper, Orange, Parsley.
Anti-oxidant; Vitamin A is essential for healthy hair and eyes. It is also important in the prevention and clearing of infections of the skin. Vitamin A counteracts dry skin, dandruff and wrinkle formation. It is needed for healthy blood circulation which gives a glow to the skin. Helps maintain smooth, soft disease-free skin; helps protect the mucous membranes of the mouth, nose, throat lungs, which helps reduce our susceptibility to infections; protects against air pollutants and contaminants; helps improve eye sight and counteracts night-blindness; aids in bone and teeth formation; improves skin elasticity, moisture content and suppleness; and helps reverse the signs of photo-aging.
Vitamin A deficiency can lead to eruptions or dry, coarse, wrinkled skin; dull and dry hair or dandruff; ridging or peeling fingernails; pimples or acne and visual fatigue.
Meat, Chicken Liver, Cod Liver Oil, Cheese.
Anti-oxidant; Vitamin E helps form muscles and tissues to prevent wrinkles and premature aging of the skin due to oxidation. It helps prevent dry, dull skin, age spots, falling hair and dandruff. It improves circulation and healing of scars. Research has shown that large doses of vitamin E double healthy cell reproduction to slow the aging process and forestall premature wrinkling.
Vitamin E supplies oxygen to the blood which is then carried to the heart and other organs, thus alleviating fatigue. It aids in bringing nourishment to cells; strengthens the capillary walls preventing the red blood cells from destructive poisons (free radicals); prevents and dissolves blood clots. Avocados, Carrots. Cheese: especially Parmesan, Cheddar; Chickpeas, Egg yolk, Green leafy vegetables, Legumes, Margarine, Meats/poultry/fish, Nuts and nut oils, Oatmeal, Olives, Parsnips, Red peppers, Seeds, Soy products and soya beans, Sweet corn, Sweet potatoes, Tomatoes Watercress, Wheat germ.
Anti-oxidant; Vitamin C, in conjunction with protein, is necessary for the production of collagen – the glue that holds us and our skin together and circumvents sags or wrinkles. It regulates sebaceous glands to keep skin from drying out; helps prevent facial lines, wrinkles and spider veins.
Vitamin C is essential for the health of the hair, eyes and teeth, resistance to infection, healing of wounds and firm skin tissues.
Vitamin C is believed to aid skin cells in repairing and reproducing themselves. It is also thought to stimulate production of collagen, enhancing skin smoothness and elasticity. This vitamin is excellent for skin showing signs of aging.
Acerola cherry, Kiwifruit, Green peppers, Citrus fruits and juices, Ctrawberries, Tomatoes, Broccoli, Turnips, Green and other leafy vegetables, Sweet and white potatoes, and Cantaloupe.
Other excellent sources include papaya, mango, watermelon, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, winter squash, red peppers, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, and pineapples.
B vitamins are vital for clear, luminous skin, youthful looks and for delaying greying of hair. They are essential for healthy skin, hair, and eyes. Studies show that 40 percent of dermatitis sufferers lack B vitamins. B vitamins also counteract stress, which has adverse effects on one’s appearance.
Vit. B-complex is a complex of several important vitamins including B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B6 (pyridoxine), B12 (cobalamin). Vitamin B1 is needed for nerve signal transmission. Vitamin B2 is needed for the metabolism of amino acids. Vitamin B6 is necessary for the production of many enzymes and chemical messengers (eg, neurotransmitters). Vitamin B12 is needed for red blood cell production and DNA synthesis.
Whole grain cereals, wheat, Pulses, Nuts, Green leafy vegetables, Molasses, Meat, Liver, Brewer’s yeast.
Vitamin D is essential for healthy teeth, bones and nails as well as for the assimilation of calcium and phosphorus. It promotes healthy eyes, skin and teeth.
It is a vitamin found in foods such as fish, oysters, and dairy products. Also, there are enzymes in our skin that make vitamin D when the skin is exposed to sunlight. Sun exposure.
Milk, Beef liver, Salmon, Tuna, Butter, Sprouted seeds.
Proteins are required for the structure, function, and regulation of the body’s cells, tissues, and organs, and each protein has unique functions.
Avocados, Brewer’s yeast, Dried legumes, Nuts, Sesame seeds, Sunflower seeds, Whole grain cereals.
Other Protein foods (these help to equalise the balance between new and dying cells) Fish, Meats, Poultry. Eggs, Dairy products, Vegetable proteins, Pulses, Wheat germ.
Calcium and Phosphorus work together for healthy teeth, hair, nails and bones. Calcium helps clear blemished skin and revitalizes lifeless, tired-looking skin.
Calcium is essential for a variety of bodily functions, such as neurotransmission, muscle contraction, and proper heart function.
Milk products, Whole wheat, Leafy vegetables, Salmon, Sardines, Shellfish, Soybeans, Sunflower seeds, Walnuts, Oranges, Lemons.
A mineral vital to energy production; helps build bone and form cell membranes and genetic material.
Dairy products, Egg yolks, Fish, Poultry, Meats, Grains, Cereals, Nuts, Fruit juices, Milk.
Chromium improves circulation for healthy skin and hair.
Chromium plays a role in glucose metabolism and is considered essential in trace amounts in nutrition.
Brewer’s yeast, Cheese, Corn oil, Liver, Clams, Meat, Whole grains.
Iodine promotes healthy hair, nails, skin, and teeth. It is an element that is necessary for the body to make thyroid hormone. It is found in shellfish and iodized salt.
Iodized salt, Kelp, Onions, Seafood, Vegetable oils.
Iron Iron is essential for healthy nails, skin color, and hair growth.
Egg yolks, Blackstrap molasses, Dark leafy greens, Dried fruits and legumes, Lean meat, Liver, Whole wheat.
Magnesium is required to prevent skin disorders. A mineral used by the body to help maintain muscles, nerves, and bones. It is also used in energy metabolism and protein synthesis.
Almonds, Apples, Apricots, Bananas, Bran, Corn, Dairy products, Figs, Grapefruit and Lemons, Meats, Raw leafy greens, Soy beans.
Manganese helps to maintain healthy hair. This micronutrient activates one or more enzymes in fatty acid synthesis; it also activates the enzymes responsible for DNA and RNA production. Closely associated with copper and zinc.
Bananas, Beets, Bran, Coffee, Egg yolks, Leafy greens, Legumes, Nuts, Pineapple, Tea, Whole grains.
Maintains skin elasticity. It helps prevent and correct dandruff. Selenium is an essential trace mineral. Selenium activates an antioxidant enzyme called glutathione peroxidase, which may help protect the body from cancer.
Asparagus, Bran, Broccoli, Chicken, Egg yolks, Milk, Onions, Red meat, Seafood, Tomatoes, Whole grains.
Helps maintain healthy hair, nails, and skin. It also prevents dermatitis, eczema, and psoriasis.
An important mineral component of vitamin B1 and of several essential amino acids. Sulphur is particularly necessary for the body’s production of collagen, which helps to form connective tissue. Sulfur is also a component of keratin, the chief ingredient in hair, skin, and nails. By controlling bacteria and exfoliating the skin, sulphur is a popular acne treatment. Sulfur is thought to dissolve the top layer of dry, dead cells and slow down oil-gland activity.
Bran, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, Cheese, Clams, Eggs Fish, Mushrooms, Nuts, Peas and beans, Wheat germ.
Zinc aids in the formation of collagen. It helps prevent wrinkles, dry skin and stretch marks, and promotes blemish healing. Zinc prevents hair loss, and brittle or spotted nails. Without enough zinc a deficiency of Vitamin A can occur even though the intake of that vitamin appears adequate.
It is a mineral that is vital to many biological functions such as immune resistance, wound healing, digestion, reproduction, physical growth, diabetes control, taste and smell. More than 300 enzymes in the human body require zinc for proper functioning.
Brewer’s yeast, Eggs, Lean red meat, Seafood, Legumes, Mushrooms, Non-fat dry milk, Pumpkin and sunflower seeds, Shellfish (oysters), Spinach, Whole grains.
An essential fatty acid. Omega 3 may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and myocardial infarction by lowering triglyceride levels and blood pressure and preventing the formation of life-threatening thrombi.
Oily Fish eg: Salmon, Flax seeds, walnuts, and Canola oil.
An essential fatty acid (should be combined in equal portions with Omega 3’s). Cereals, Eggs, Poultry, Most vegetable oils, Whole-grain breads, Baked goods, and margarine.
Foods and natural skin care products that benefit specific skin types
Dry, sensitive & mature Drink more Water and consume foods high in vitamin A, B-complex, D and E; Fish such as Salmon & Tuna; Wheat germ, Almond and Linseed; use Safflower, Sunflower and Sesame oils in your cooking; Wildcrafted Herbal Products that are useful in Dry, Sensitive & Mature Skin Types: Skin Care System for dry, mature & sensitive skin; Red Earth Medicine Facial Clay.
Normal Maintain a well balanced diet. Wildcrafted Herbal Products that are useful a Normal Skin Type: Skin Care System for normal skin; Yellow Earth Medicine Facial Clay.
Oily Drink more Water and avoid ritch and fried foods; Include more greens and fruits; drink Yarrow Tea; add Cucumber, parsley, Cabbage, Tomato to your cooking.
Wildcrafted Herbal Products that are useful for Oily Skin Types: Skin Care System for oily skin; Green Earth Medicine Facial Clay.
Now that you know which foods will help you in supporting your skin and in aiding you to balance your particular skin type or skin types, the next thing you need to implement is a daily and weekly skin care regime to promote the health and vitality of your skin.
Danny Siegenthaler is a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine and together with his wife Susan, a medical herbalist and Aromatherapist, they have created Natural Skin Care Products by Wildcrafted Herbal Products to share their 40 years of combined expertise with you
Photo. Witthaya Phonsawat
© Wildcrafted Herbal Products Pty Ltd., 2009