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which comes first… nutrition or skincare?

Which comes first? Nutrition or skincare… or is it skincare then nutrition?

Recently there has be an abundance of chatter discussing the relationship between nutrition and skin integrity. But what is the actual impact of our skin on our nutritional intake and our nutrition’s impact on the largest organ of the human body? Well, the answer is not as much as you would think but some key nutrients do stand out.

Can your skin affect your nutrition?

Interestingly enough, yes!

While it can also be attained through food, vitamin D is made in the skin through sun exposure. Skin color is known to be the major factor linking sun exposure and vitamin D production. Vitamin D production is proportionate to skin pigmentation, so the lighter the skin color the greater the vitamin D production and vice versa. People with dark skin tones and those living in northern climates may need to increase their vitamin D intake from foods or supplements.

Can nutrition affect your skin?

Yes! However, things such as genetics, hormones, sleep, exercise, smoking, environment, etc have a bigger impact. The follow dietary constituents elicit the greatest influence on skin health:

 

Water.

The human body comprises of 50-60% water. This makes it the most vital component to our diet. A seemingly marginal decline of 2% hydration can result in dull, dry and itchy skin with increased lines and wrinkles. 8 cups of water per day is recommended for the average individual excluding those participating in intense physical activity or those residing in hot and humid climates.

 

Carbohydrates. Often misrepresented, carbohydrates have developed a not necessarily deserved bad
reputation in recent years. However, whole grains are a rich source of vitamins and minerals. The glycemic load, also known as the glycemic index, is one of the many factors why carbohydrates get a bad rap. The glycemic load measures the amount of carbohydrate consumed and its rate of absorption. Refined carbohydrates such as flour (think white bread, most pasta, crackers, cookies, processed pastries)  have a higher gylcemic index than whole grains meaning they are absorbed faster thereby causing negat
ive side effects such as high blood sugar and insulin levels. High blood sugar levels in conjunction with insulin and insulin growth factor have been correlated to increased sebum production and subsequently acne. Therefore, don’t eliminate carbohydrates from your diet, just the white ones!

 

 

Protein. Protein serves as one of the building blocks of our body tissues and is essential for skin repair and renewal. Most western societies consume roughly double the amount of protein required per day. Protein can be attained through sources such as lean meats, dairy products, soy products, beans, nuts/seeds, whole grains and spirulina.

 

Fats. Fat is a compulsory constituent of the cell membrane and aids tissue regeneration. The omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenonic acid (DHA) can only be attained through external dietary sources. Some of the best sources of ALA include flaxseeds and walnuts, along with different oils such as flaxseed, canola, soybean, walnut and wheat germ. Omega-3’s can be found in smaller quantities in soy products, beans, vegetables, and whole grains.

Corn, safflower, sunflower, and cottonseed oils also contain omega-3’s, though in lower levels than the previously mentioned oils. While fish are frequently referenced as good sources of these essential fatty acids, the high amounts of other fats and cholesterol and the lack of fiber make fish a poor dietary choice. Fish are also often high in mercury and other environmental toxins that pose dangers to the consumer especially pregnant or breast-feeding women.

 

Etc. Other more distilled nutritional components that affect our skin are antioxidants, especially vitamin C which supports collagen production. Antioxidants act to protect the body’s cells from the daily onslaught of free radicals derived from essential metabolic processes within the body as well as external exposure things such as air pollutants, industrial chemicals, UV-rays and ozone. Foods with the highest antioxidants content include whole plant-based foods such as fruit, vegetables, whole grains, beans and nuts/seeds.

As a final note:

Don’t make the relationship between skin and nutrition too complicated. As Michael Pollan states:

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants”… and get outside!

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