I remember those lovely days- the horror of turning 30 and looking in the mirror to find a massive, blistering volcano on my face. What the hell, a zit at 30? Or the absolute revulsion at realizing that my “laugh line” stayed laughing, even when I was frowning. Yes, my friends, acne and aging are the two A’s- for better or worse, right or wrong- we vain people are subliminally taught to avoid like the Bubonic plague. Therefore, I feel compelled to mitigate this self-conscious-inducing angst and focus on the do's and don’ts of acquiring or maintaining a satiny, gorgeous outer layer. This does not suggest that pimples on your derriere or face will not pop up; and that hormones nor aging will suddenly refuse to exert their powerful influence. However, there are some dietary basics that will glide you towards luminous, clear as water skin. Assuming you’re not slathering on acrid substances, drinking alcohol 5-7 days a week, or sleep deprived (yes, those were hints), here are my top five suggestions to a more radiant you.
Water: I know, I know. You’ve heard it from your mom, favorite celebrity, and the dog. But it’s true. First of all you need ample amounts. What’s ample? If you’re urine is dark yellow, DRINK MORE. If you’re going to the bathroom every 30 minutes and it’s crystal clear, back off. It’s that simple. Be aware that diuretics (i.e. coffee and alcohol) are not great for the skin. People think we dieticians are bit odd with our interest in urine and "poop". It’s true. We are. It also tells us A LOT about you. This is no exception. Water-based foods do count (i.e. watermelon, soup, juice, etc.) and shockingly, bright yellow urine is likely a vitamin.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids: Yes my friends, the love affair with this powerhouse continues. It hydrates, provides important vitamins, and conditions your skin, keeping it supple and nourished. It’s also a great anti-inflammatory and basically nature’s Ibuprofen. Good sources are salmon, flaxseed, walnuts, and canola oil (use the expeller-pressed, no solvents-used kind). While you’re at it, you might as well throw in some Vitamin E- rich foods such as almonds, avocados, and olive oil to send your skin into epidermal bliss.
Red Fruits and Green Leafy Vegetables: When I say chock your body full of these heavy hitting, anti-oxidant foods, I mean CHOCK YOUR BODY full! For every snack and meal, find a way to get in this nutrient dense goodness (Vitamin A, E, or C to name a few). Any sort of oxidation that happens in and to your body, i.e. sun, environment, alcohol, smoking, processed foods, will be undone or at least slowed by eating ample quantities of it. Shoot for 5-9 fistful servings per day.
Vitamin D: Vital for skin repair. It’s more difficult to get this in your diet and you might be better off with a supplement. But some food sources are salmon, fortified milk and OJ, and UV-lit mushrooms. Your body does make it from the sun. However, this strongly contradicts the advice that you should avoid the sun and slather on lots of sunscreen, which significantly inhibits the Vitamin D-making ability. You make the call, but sun worshipping may not be the best option given our depleting ozone layer. Go for a minimum of 600 IU per day of Vitamin D-3.
Reduced Sugar Intake (now this one is important.). Excessive sugar (yes, that includes honey, agave nectar, coconut palm sugar, etc.) and easily digested carbohydrates (i.e. white rice, flour, sweetened beverages, etc.) really wreaks havoc on your skin. Certain end-products that develop from carbohydrate metabolism cause inflammation and collagen breakdown. I am not suggesting the Paleo or gluten-free diets (which has its own skin issues). Just use some common sense and moderation. What the heck is that? Try to minimize your treat consumption to 1 time per day, or better yet, 1 serving of dark chocolate per day is an excellent choice. If you’re consuming alcohol, that is your treat. Switch refined carbohydrate products to whole grain versions and aim for 1 serving per meal/snack (unless you’re a serious exerciser). Your fluctuating weight will dictate whether you need more or less.
Still reading? Stay tuned for Glorious Skin Part Deux.
Shannon is a registered dietitian and functional nutritionist with a penchant for provocative topics, almond butter, and local theater.