Hello and welcome back. I’m continuing the discussion about healthy food for healthy skin. If you missed out on that go here and find out what vitamins you need to keep your skin healthy. This post is dedicated to phytochemicals. As I mentioned before for healthy skin you need to be able to regenerate new skin, that means providing the building blocks to do that, and you need to be able to protect your skin from free radicals and from UV sun.
Ellagic acid protects collagen from UV damage.
Ellagic acid is a polyphenol. It prevents the synthesis of an enzyme called MMP, or matrix metalloproteinase which damages collagen. Ellagic acid acts at the DNA level of the cell to prevent unwinding of DNA strands. There is interest in ellagic acid as an anticancer agent. It makes my list of top things to include daily in my diet. Good places to find Ellagic are in blackberries and red berries of all kinds including cranberries, pomegranates, walnuts, and pecans. On of my all time favourites is a delicious berrie smoothie.
White tea is also a polyphenol has great benefits for your skin.
White tea contains more antioxidant property than any of the other teas because it is the very young tip of the tea and has not been processed even to the extent of green tea. The high amounts of polyphenols in white tea block the activity of collegenase which is the enzyme that breaks down collagen and stops skin from sagging. White tea along with green tea also has fat burning properties. White tea is also used in natural skin care products.
Omega 3 fatty acids are essential to skin health.
If you want skin that looks supple and young, you’ve got have some good fats in your diet. Lack of essential fatty acids leads to dry flaky skin and makes it vulnerable to sun damage and other skin irriations. Some recommend using flax oil, and I think this is OK, especially if you want to grind up your flax seeds to put on your cereals on into other foods. A tip about flax seeds: forget about them unless they are ground, eating whole flax seeds isn’t going to do you a whole lot of good because they will just pass straight through with out being digested so dedicate a coffee grinder for nuts and seeds and grind them up instead. If you are going to use actual oils why not do fish oil instead. Flax seed is rich in alpha linoleic acid, but doesn’t contain DHA and EPA as fish oil does. If you don’t want to use fish there are other ways to get your DHA and EPA. Vegetarian options are algae based oils. DHA and EPA can accomplish other healthy benefits in the body besides helping your skin. These benefits include better heart health and even weight loss. Other good nuts for omega 3s which promote heart health as well are walnuts.
Flavonoids from Cocoa.
Cocoa butter is well known in skin care products, but eating a little bit is excellent for your skin. But it has to be the high flavonoid cocoa. It has the effect of increasing your skin hydration, preventing roughness and scaliness and protecting against UV damage. Apparently about 1ounce per day is what you need. A while back cocovia was on the shelves at supermarkets. I haven’t seen it for a while, come to think of it, but it was research done with cocovia that provided the results of the study mentioned above. The thing is, not any old dark chocolate will produce these results. Xocai chocolates produce this result but it is far too expensive for my pocket. A better way to get really good quality cocoa is to buy raw organic. Try your local health food store for it, or look online. Seriously if you want the good stuff, in this case, you have forgo your supermarket style available chocolate and cocoa.
Lycopene reduces damage from UV and pollution premature aging.
It also enhances collagen production and, works to keep junctions between cells tighter helping to improve skin texture. We mostly hear about lycopene from tomato but it’s found in high amounts in watermelon too. If you want to get it from tomatoes then your best bet is to use tomato paste. Cooking the tomatoes makes the lycopene more bioavailable, and its fat soluble, so having a bit of olive oil or some kind of fat, helps you absorb it. Lycopene is also available in a topical cream.
Lutien keeps the skin hydrated, elastic, and improves skin lipid content
so you don’t look sunken around the eyes. And you need surprisingly little amounts – 10mg per day was shown to have protective benefits. Leafy greens like spinach, kale mustard greens (yuk- if anyone’s got a great recipe for mustard greens I’d like it!!) For now I’ll stick with my kale. One cup of Kale raw gives you over 26mg. See my Anytime Green Smoothie recipe to get kale into your diet. You can get topical lutein skin treatments but eating kale is great not just for the skin, but for the eyes too. There is some evidence that enough lutein can reverse macular regeneration.
Protein is essential to healthy skin.
You won’t build collagen with out it. Go for lean protein sources. If you are vegetarian include beans, sprouted grains, whey protein, Eggs – free range is the ONLY kind as far as I’m concerned. But don’t ditch the yolks – they contain lutein and lots of other good nutrients.
Next post I’ll be including some wakame recipes to help keep your skin in tip top condition.
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