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September 12, 2023
Even if you invest in expensive skincare products and beauty treatments, unless you are getting enough sleep, managing your stress levels, exercising enough, and eating a healthy, balanced diet, your skin will still be unhealthy and have chronic issues like dryness, acne, and inflammations such as eczema, psoriasis and rosacea.
Food, in particular, is an important factor, as your body, including your skin, is made up of nutrients from the food you eat every day. In essence, your skin is a reflection of your internal organs.
We have previously shared 8 different food groups that can be bad for the skin (read: How Different Foods Negatively Affect The Skin and How Different Foods Negatively Affect The Skin - Part 2). Today, let's talk about the foods and nutrients the are good for the skin.
Protein is one of the three major nutrients necessary for not only healthy, youthful skin, but also hair, nails, muscles, bones, hormones, enzymes, immune system, and other organs within the body. In fact, collagen, known for its beauty benefits, is also a type of protein that not only helps maintain the firmness and moisture of your skin, but also helps prevent sagging and wrinkles. In other words, if you want to have more collagen in your skin, you need protein.
In fact, research has revealed that not only does a lack of protein cause hair loss and aging skin, it may also lead to weight gain. There are two reasons for this——protein can tell the body to produce more satiety hormones such as peptide YY, GIP, and GLP-1. It also tells the body to reduce hunger hormones such as ghrelin. Therefore, sufficient protein can help with weight loss by maintaining a feeling of fullness even when reducing food intake!
Foods that contain protein and have a high utilization rate (the utilization rate in the body varies depending on the composition of amino acids of such foods) include meat (especially chicken breasts), fish, eggs, soybeans, as well as dairy products such as milk and yogurt. Unfortunately, dairy products, eggs, and soy can also contribute to acne and other skin inflammation issues, thus they might not be the best option.
One way to up your protein intake besides eating meat and fish is to include protein powder or collagen supplement (which is actually a type of proteins too!) in your daily diet.
Do however note that, protein powder and collagen supplements are technically not interchangeable because of their differing amino acid profiles——protein powders tend to be better for those following a vegan diet or who are strictly interested in muscle gains, while collagen supplement is better for those looking to improve their skin, hair and nails conditions, as well as gut and bone health.
Now, collagen supplements are derived from animals, such as cows, pigs, and marine life like fish, jellyfish, and even sharks, of which wild caught fish is considered the best for skin, in terms of increasing collagen in the skin, improving skin elasticity, reducing wrinkles, and decreasing skin dryness, as marine collagen contains the highest quantity of bioavailable type I collagen, and has the smallest particle size and lowest molecular weight among all types of collagen and is absorbed up to 1.5 times more efficiently than other types. It is also rich in 8 out of 9 essential amino acids that are building blocks for collagen, including glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline——while proline is important for hair, hydroxyproline is most effective at creating collagen because it does not get completely broken down further and can go straight to the skin with your blood, and guess what, marine collagen contains a higher concentration of this amino acid over and above other types of collagen.
The benefits of taking collagen supplement includes:
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In terms of the skin, when the liver is overworked or when toxins is overloaded, then the below issues can arise:
It is therefore important to help support the cleansing of the liver and other detoxification organs and systems of the body with liver detoxifying foods and nutrients, whilst supporting and stimulating cell repair and protection, so as to improve and prevent the aforementioned issues.
Foods that can help with detoxifying the liver include artichoke, garlic, turmeric, dandelion root, beetroot, ginger, burdock root, fennel seeds, parsley, and cayenne.
MARIE REYNOLDS LONDON
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Omega-3 fatty acids——alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), substances that the body cannot make and can only get from food or supplements, are a critical part of the membranes surrounding each of the cells in the body, and are vital for body energy levels, as well as the heart, brain, blood vessels, lungs, immune system, and endocrine system. They are also important for the skin, as they:
Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids includes fishes like salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring, trout, and tuna, as well as nuts and seeds like flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts.
As for supplements, krill oil is considered more superior than fish oils, as it has the advantage of having a lot of phospholipids, which help the body better absorb omega-3s. Moreover, it also offers vitamin A and antioxidants, namely astaxanthin.
MARIE REYNOLDS LONDON
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Astaxanthin, dubbed the "king of carotenoids" is a kind of fat-soluble carotenoid that research shows to be one of the most powerful antioxidants in nature. Its ability in protecting the cells from free radicals and oxidative stress is found to be 6,000 times higher than vitamin C, 550 times higher than vitamin E and 40 times higher than beta-carotene.
Besides its antioxidant properties, astaxanthin can also enhance the immune system by activating white blood cells (T-cells) and natural killer (NK) cells, supports cognitive health by increasing the formation of new brain cells and enhance spatial memory, lowers total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol while also increasing HDL (good) cholesterol and lower high blood pressure to support healthy heart function, reducing proteins that can cause inflammation thereby improving and preventing chronic inflammation that can contribute to conditions like diabetes, celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, and heart disease, as well as helps protect retinal cells against oxidative damage, as well as reduce symptoms of eye fatigue.
In terms of skin health, asthaxanthin can provide the following benefits:
While one of the the best natural source of asthaxanthin is krill, it can also be found in salmon, shrimp, trout, red seabream, and certain types of microalgae, such as Haematococcus pluvialis.
Algae is a diverse group of aquatic plants, such as chlorella, spirulina, sea kelp and seaweed (not the processed kind that you eat as snack), that have been consumed for centuries for their health benefits, as they contain a wide variety of nutrients, including iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, selenium, tyrosine, zinc, copper, phosphorous, iodine, polysaccharides, beta-glucans, essential amino acids, fatty acids, carotenoids, phycocyanins, chlorophyll, vitamin A, vitamin C, and various B vitamins, etc.
Not only does algae support and improve brain health, cognitive function, immune system, thyroid hormones, gut health, acid reflux, and bone health, making it great for both adults and kids, it is also great for skin health:
Do however note that cooking algae can affect its nutrient content, as certain nutrients can be damaged and lost during cooking with heat and water. This is why consuming algae via supplements may be the best way to go, as the tough cell walls of some types of algae would have been broken down without losing valuable nutrients, making them easier for the body to digest and absorb.
For topical skin benefits of different kinds of algae, read The Power of Algae for the Skin Topically and Internally.
MARIE REYNOLDS LONDON
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Probiotics, often referred to as "good" or "friendly" bacteria, are live microorganisms of various strains of bacteria and yeast that are naturally found in the human gut and beneficial to human health, including improved digestive health by restoring the balance of bacteria in the gut and reducing symptoms such as bloating, gas, and constipation, enhanced immune function by reducing inflammation and promoting the production of antibodies and other immune cells, reduced risk of certain health conditions such as allergies, eczema, and inflammatory bowel disease, and improved mental health by improving mood and reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression through modulating the gut-brain axis, and improved absorption of nutrients such as vitamins and minerals by promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
Moreoever, emerging research suggests that there may be a relationship between probiotics and cognitive diseases. Some studies have suggested that probiotics may play a role in promoting brain health and reducing the risk of cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. For example, some strains of probiotics may help to reduce inflammation, which is thought to play a role in the development of cognitive diseases. Additionally, probiotics may help to improve the gut-brain axis, which is the communication network between the gut and the brain.
One study published in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience found that a daily intake of a probiotic supplement containing Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains for 12 weeks improved cognitive function in healthy older adults. Another study published in the journal Nutrients found that a probiotic supplement containing Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains improved cognitive function and reduced anxiety and depression in adults with memory problems.
In terms of skin health, intake of probiotics provide the following benefits:
Now, these microorganisms can be found in certain foods, including fermented foods such as yogurt, natto, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi. They can also be taken in supplement form to ensure a consistent and adequate dose of beneficial bacteria is taken everyday.
MARIE REYNOLDS LONDON
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Probiotics may also be used topically on the skin for more direct benefits. However, here is the problematic part——99%+ of products that claim to contain probiotics do not contain live cultures. This is because unless a product is in powder form or anhydrous, preservatives or antimicrobial agents are needed to keep products stable and prevent the proliferation of harmful microbes. This would render any probiotic cultures inert and therefore useless, as at the moment, there is no preservative system sophisticated enough to differentiate between “good” and “bad” bacteria.
In other words, only products that contain live cultures will be able to provide real benefits. As a consumer you WILL know, because they are ALWAYS specified and listed clearly by strains, and never ambiguous.
For more information on using topical probiotics on the skin, read: Everything About The Microbiome & Probiotics For The Skin.
MARIE REYNOLDS LONDON
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Diindolylmethane (DIM) and Indole-3-carbinol (I3C, a precursor to DIM) are phytonutrients derived from cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. They're known to stimulate detoxifying enzymes in the gut and liver, boost immune function by supporting the production of immune cells and reducing inflammation in the body, and support cardiovascular health by reducing inflammation and improving cholesterol levels in the body.
Most importantly, it regulates estrogen and androgen, and promotes healthy estrogen metabolism and balanced hormones by supporting the breakdown of estrogen into less harmful metabolites. This is particularly important for those with hormonal acne, because this type of acne results from an imbalance of estrogens and testosterone.
Since it is not easy to consume enough cruciferous vegetables daily to provide the body with a therapeutic dose of DIM everyday, taking a DIM or I3C supplement may thus be beneficial in helping the body maintain this delicate balance of estrogen and testosterone, and block androgen pathways to decrease sebum production and acne. Do however note that it is not suitable for those who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
There are more essential foods and nutrients for healthy, youth skin, so stay tuned for part 2!
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