Growing up, you may have heard of the old saying “Health is wealth” countless times over. It was either your parent’s reprimand when they see you eating sweets and junk food or your teachers and doctors advising you to be more mindful of what you choose to eat. Of course, many of us chose to brush off their words and carry on with our haphazard diet as kids.
Now that you’re older and wiser (and most likely more aware of the consequences of unhealthy eating), the adage “Health is wealth” makes so much more sense. Junk food and fast food may still be delicious, but all that oil and fat are definitely not doing you any favors. Not only do you feel heavy and sluggish after such an unhealthy meal, but you’ll also suffer breakouts and other skin blemishes that you desperately hide every time you go out.
That’s right. One of the most significant indicators of good health is beautiful and glowing skin. If you don’t provide the right vitamins and nutrients to your body, your skin (the most significant and most visible part of you) and even hair will suffer the most. For adults especially, pimples, dry skin, and acne are unseemly since it’s a sign of neglecting one’s health.
While there are countless ways of treating skin blemishes (such as a strict skincare regimen or even a salicylic acid peel), the best way to really get that beautiful glowing skin is to eat healthily. A good diet composed of leafy greens, fruits, and the right amount of protein will do wonders for your skin. Moreover, it takes around 30 days for the outer layer of your skin (the epidermis) to shed and to entirely replace itself, so if you stick to a healthy diet, you’ll see results after only a month.
Healthy Skin 101
Contrary to what some people might believe, eating healthy is quite simple. Really all you need to do is stick to your diet and avoid indulging too much on food that’s unhealthy for you. It might seem impossible at first – especially if you’re a long time fanatic of salty, greasy food and sweet treats – but with time and dedication, you can turn your life around.
Adopting a healthy nutritional habit is entirely achievable if you put your mind to it. What you need to do is consume more healthy food than junk food. Here are the vitamins and nutrients essential to healthy skin:
Zinc. This is arguably the most critical mineral for achieving that healthy glow on your skin. Zinc regulates the natural oils in the skin and balances hormones that cause breakouts. Basically, this mineral is very beneficial for those who suffer from frequent acne. Studies have even proven that those who have low levels of zinc are more prone to breakouts.
Food enriched with zinc: almonds, Brazil nuts, shellfish, seeds, turkey, dark chocolate
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid). This antioxidant vitamin is crucial for our overall health, but when it comes to caring for our skin, vitamin C plays an even more significant role. It’s vital for collagen synthesis and has even shown to be able to aid in preventing UV skin damage. Vitamin C also has anti-aging properties and can help one avoid wrinkles.
Food enriched with vitamin C: orange, lemon, papaya, grapefruit, tomatoes
Vitamin E. Like vitamin C, vitamin E is vital for skincare. It’s uniquely positioned to keep your skin’s integrity and appearance. Not only does it prevent premature signs of aging, but it also keeps your skin hydrated, reduce the appearance of scars, and protects you from sun damage. There’s a reason why most skin care products and supplements include more vitamin E than any other nutrient.
Food enriched with vitamin E: nuts, avocados, broccoli, leafy green vegetables
Vitamin A. This vitamin has more profound effects on your skin. Vitamin A stimulates cells that keep your skin young and firm and generally encourages healthy skin cell production. And since this vitamin promotes cell production, it also helps protect your body from harmful irritants. Moreover, vitamin A clears up acne and blemishes as well as evens your skin tone so you can achieve that healthy glow.
Food enriched with vitamin A: carrots, spinach, fish oil, salmon
Omega-3 Fatty Acids. This nutrient supports normal healthy skin cell turnover which prevents breakouts and blemishes. Omega-3 fatty acids also prevent certain types of molecules that lead to skin inflammation. A deficiency in omega-3 fatty acids can lead to dry skin since this nutrient is what keeps skin supple and moisturized.
Food enriched with omega-3 fatty acids: herring, mackerel, salmon, and other fatty fish
Selenium. Lastly, this antioxidant mineral protects your skin from free radical damage and from harmful UV rays. Selenium also keeps your skin youthful and elastic as well as prevents acne breakouts.
Food enriched with selenium: eggs, brown rice, nuts, tuna, garlic, salmon
Eating Healthy Do’s and Don’ts
Now that we know the minerals and nutrients necessary for healthy skin, it’s time to talk about the habits you need to adopt. Health isn’t a one-step process where you can just consume the suggested types of food and expect good results. There are guidelines you need to follow for your healthy diet to really kick in.
Keeping hydrated is so important for your health, especially if you want healthy skin. Many people tend to forget to drink the recommended amount of water every day while others assume that their sodas, juices, and coffee are useful enough for hydrating their body. The truth is that caffeinated and carbonated drinks can actually cause dehydration in excess.
Proper hydration can lead to plump and healthy skin since water can flush out toxins and aid in skin regeneration. However, it should be noted that there is such a thing as drinking too much water. Overhydration has its adverse effects too, one of them is as severe as being at risk for seizures.
Experts suggest that people drink five to eight glasses of water.
Eating healthy is one thing. Staying healthy is another. You can’t just rely on your diet to reach your health goals, no matter how good you are at avoiding unhealthy food. Even when it comes to caring for your skin, exercise can be really advantageous. A good exercise regimen will help your body flush out toxins through sweating. Toxins can manifest themselves as pimples or other skin blemishes, so that’s one-way exercise can help clear your skin.
Another benefit of exercise is the proper bowel movement. A symptom of constipation is breakouts so by exercising and improving your bowel movement, and you’d be avoiding pimples from appearing on your face.
Listen to your body.
This basically boils down to: if your body is hungry, eat. This might sound overly simplistic, but a lot of people tend to ignore their body’s signs of hunger. They’ll let their stomach rumble and complain until, eventually, they’ll forget to eat altogether. Satiating your hunger at the right time is essential.
Additionally, it would help if you didn’t let your moods and emotions dictate your eating habits. Don’t binge just because the mood strikes. Your mind might be telling you to go all out, but your body will be the one to suffer so you need to be disciplined.
Speaking of, a common misconception when it comes to healthy eating is that you need to eat a lot in order to enjoy the vitamins and minerals fully. However, overeating can be detrimental to your health, even when you’re consuming leafy greens and such. Eating more than your stomach can handle will cause you to bloat and feel sluggish. It also slows down digestion. Overeating can then worsen your skin condition, no matter how healthy your diet supposedly is.
Experts recommend that you stop eating once you already feel full. You might be tempted to eat more, especially if there’s still a lot of food on the table, but exercise self-restraint. Your stomach needs room to digest your food too so don’t stuff yourself too much.
Remember the foods you need to avoid.
Just as there are foods that health experts recommend for healthy skin, there are also foods you must avoid. This list of foods might be a bit difficult to swallow for many but, rest assured, once you get into the habit it’ll get much easier to avoid them.
Here are the foods commonly suspected of causing skin problems: caffeinated drinks, alcohol, sugar, dairy, salt, refined bread, and processed foods (instant ramen, dried fruits, canned food).
It should also go without saying that fast food and junk food should be avoided too. Basically, anything with too much oil and preservatives is good to stay away from.
Lastly, give yourself a cheat day at least once a week. Allow yourself an “unhealthy” meal or a sugary snack on your planned splurging day. Dieticians recommend this strategy not only to reward you for your work but also a way of jumpstarting your metabolism and regulating your body’s hormones.
Of course, like with everything else, it’s not wise to overdo it on your cheat days.