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How diet impacts skin health

There are different types of skin, which in turn are influenced by genetic, regional or nutritional factors.

Here we are going to review everything about this last aspect, highlighting what are the necessary nutrients to strengthen and beautify the skin, how you can obtain them and what foods you should avoid.

At almost 2 m² in size and 5 kg in weight, the skin is the largest organ in the body. It is divided into two main layers (epidermis and dermis) and fulfills many functions, such as keeping the body’s structures intact, acting as a protective barrier, and functioning as a communication system with the environment.

Food is essential to obtain energy and develop, so it has a direct impact on skin health.

The strength, shine, elasticity, presence of wrinkles or spots, and speed of recovery of the skin, will depend on the and the amount of nutrients that are part of our diet.

C vitamin

Vitamin C is found in the dermis and epidermis, and has antioxidant effects, making it very useful to combat the action of free radicals (unstable substances that affect healthy cell structures). This helps reduce the risk of premature aging.

Vitamin C also benefits skin health by stimulating collagen production. This is a group of proteins that the body uses to improve the elasticity and resistance of tissues, thus determining the appearance of the skin, hair and nails.

It is advisable to consume between 65 and 90 mg of vitamin C daily. You can obtain it by adding citrus fruits, such as lemons, oranges or grapefruits, green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli and spinach, berries and peppers, among other foods, to the diet.

Vitamin D

Regular exposure to sunlight helps to obtain vitamin D, which is then absorbed by the liver and kidneys to be transported to the rest of the body to create healthy cells (including skin cells).

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Scientific evidence shows that vitamin D can also help the skin by reducing inflammation, relieving irritation, and fighting psoriasis.

You can get the necessary vitamin D by exposing yourself to sunlight for about 10 minutes (consult your doctor for a history of skin cancer), and by consuming fortified foods, such as cereals or yogurts, and lean fish, such as salmon, tuna, and cod, and their oils, rich in Omega 3 fatty acids.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E has antioxidant properties, especially useful for caring for the skin against damage caused by the sun’s rays, preventing inflammation and the appearance of spots or wrinkles.

Normally, the body produces vitamin E through sebum, a substance emitted through the pores of the skin. In the right balance, sebum helps keep skin conditioned and prevents dryness.

To obtain a sufficient daily dose of vitamin E (around 15 mg), it is advisable to consume nuts, such as almonds or hazelnuts, seeds, such as sunflower seeds, and vegetable, wheat, sunflower, corn or soy oils, among other foods.

Vitamina K

Vitamin K stimulates the blood clotting process, which is why it helps the body heal wounds, bruises and areas affected by surgeries.

It also appears to be helpful against certain skin conditions, such as stretch marks, scars, and dark spots. For this reason, it is common to find it in many creams and ointments.

The recommended daily consumption of vitamin K ranges between 90 and 120 micrograms, therefore, its deficiency is unusual.

You can get it by including green foods in your diet, such as spinach, kale, cabbage, lettuce or beans, among other foods.

Healthy fats

Although they carry a negative connotation, fats are necessary for the proper functioning of the body.

They help form the cell membranes of all cells in the body, provide insulation, and facilitate temperature regulation.

To take advantage of these benefits, which directly impact the health of the skin, it is important to incorporate healthy fats, that is, mono and polyunsaturated.

You can find them in oils, such as olive, canola, or peanut, avocados, tree nuts, soy products, and oily fish, such as tuna, mackerel, salmon, or sardines.

Liquids

Staying hydrated is very important to take care of the health of the body, and, consequently, of the skin.

When you are dehydrated, your skin loses strength, elasticity, shine, and is more prone to being marked, dry and damaged.

To avoid this situation, it is recommended to drink between 6 and 8 glasses of water per day, although it all depends on individual needs.

This consumption will not cause the same effect in people who are active or live in areas with hot climates, compared to sedentary or less active people, or who live in areas with cold climates.

A good way to know if you are hydrated is through your urine. If the color of this is dark, it means that you are not incorporating enough liquid.

Remember, water is the best and simplest way to hydrate yourself, but you can get a plus, when it comes to your skin, if you complement its consumption with fruits and vegetables rich in water: such as celery, strawberry, melon, cucumber, watermelon or tomato.

Precautions

Just as there are beneficial options for the skin, there are products that can harm it.

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An example of this is highly processed or ultra-processed food or edible products, that is, canned, dehydrated, or packaged soups or noodles, margarines, cake mixes, potato chips, soft drinks, cookies, sweets, sauces, ice cream or jams, among others.

These products are made with industrial ingredients (binders, preservatives, emulsifiers, stabilizers, or solvents), which usually contain little or no whole food.

Along with caffeine, salt, alcohol and sugar in excess, these products can be harmful since they trigger inflammation and oxidative stress, affecting the health of the skin.

They also tend to carry a high glycemic index (GI), a measure of how quickly food can raise blood sugar.

Including foods with a high GI reduces sensitivity and causes circulation problems, which can promote the appearance of skin conditions and make their detection difficult.

Sources consulted: Comprehensive Natural Medicines Database, US National Library of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, National Institute of Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

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