Healthy skincare happens from the inside out. We cannot expect lotions and creams to correct an unhealthy lifestyle. To treat surface symptoms topically, such as dry cracked skin, rashes, breakout, age spots, wrinkles and cellulite, will not address the cause of these conditions. The health of our skin reflects our overall well-being, so it is important to consider our gut health, our levels of hydration, sleep patterns, amount of exercise, stress levels and nutrition. All of these components impact our well- being and are reflected in our skin.
Recent studies published by the American Academy of Dermatology claim that food-based nutrients can have skin saving qualities. Supporting the skin’s protective function with rich nutrient dense food can impact the resiliency of our skin to respond to environmental aggressors.
Vitamin A can assist with collagen production and thicken the dermis as well as help with break-outs. Foods high in Vitamin A include dark green leafy vegetables, such as kale, chard and spinach, as well as red peppers, sweet potatoes, cucumbers and dates. Vitamin A also is added to skincare products to deliver the vitamin’s magic to correct sun damage.
Vitamin C also promotes collagen production and is a powerful antioxidant that acts as a scavenger of free radicals. Vitamin C is found in strawberries, pineapple, tangerines, raspberries, lemons, blueberries, and broccoli.
Vitamin E assists the skin by producing a healthy moisture barrier. This is especially important for athletic people spending hours outside and tackling the effects of wind, cold, sun and the dry Colorado climate. Foods that support the skin’s moisture barrier are flaxseeds, almonds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, brazil nuts, and peanuts.
Zinc and selenium assist the skin with inflammatory conditions such as acne and cold sores. Brazil nuts are a superior source for selenium, and zinc can be found in venison, lamb, pumpkin seeds, and oats.
Foods can be your best internal path to healthy skin. Diets rich in antioxidants, low in animal fats and processed carbohydrates support radiant skin.
Hydrating the skin from the inside out also is extremely important. When water is in short supply, the immune system shortchanges non-critical tissues such as the skin. So, if your lips are dry that is often a symptomatic sign of dehydration.
At The Vail Vitality Center our nutritionist swears by the famous “Green Detox” smoothie. It’s easy to make with a high power blender and helps you cover your bases for getting your quota of fruits and vegetables each day. You begin by blending a banana and pear with coconut water or plain filtered water, then add chopped kale, spinach, chard, parsley, cilantro and, once blended, add your choice of protein powder. Of course you can add flaxseeds or chia seeds for extra nutrition, or any other fruit or vegetable to customize the concoction to your taste.
After feeding our skin nutrient dense food it is important to use natural organic skin care products as much as possible. Know that the skin absorbs the products you apply directly into the blood supply. The EWG (Environmental Working Group) has tested over 15,000 cosmetics. Go to their website to find recommendations for healthy, safe skincare products. Or, join us at Vail Vitality Center to learn more about caring for your skin, from the inside out.
Lisa DeKoster is The Spa and programs manager at Vail Vitality Center. She also is a licensed esthetician.