As the most visible and largest organ, your skin holds an important job in shielding your body from harm. Keep it healthy with these helpful tips.
BY: LIANA FLINT, MS, RD
Did you know that our skin is considered an organ? Not only that, but our skin is the largest organ in our body. This makes sense, as it plays a major role in keeping us safe and healthy. Our skin acts as a first layer of defense against the outside world, regulates our body temperature, and essentially holds all our insides together.
Not only does our skin play an important role in our health, but also in its appearance.
Many of us have heard advice to avoid chocolate, dairy, greasy foods, or even grains to prevent acne and other skin conditions. The overwhelm of information makes it tricky to sort through the never-ending messages around skin care, so let’s review a list of 5 key strategies and insight for healthier skin.
1. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
Our skin is made up of cells that require lots of water to function properly. The lack of proper skin hydration can lead to dry, tight, and flaky skin that is less resilient and more prone to wrinkling.
The best way to tell if you’re hydrated? Take a peek at your pee! Pale urine is a sign of good hydration, while dark amber, smelly urine indicates dehydration. Drink up, friends!
Hydration tip: choose a water bottle with a straw. Many people find that using a straw makes drinking water more enjoyable and helps them drink more at a time.
2. Enjoy your fruits & veggies
A diet containing plenty of fruits and vegetables will provide an abundance of vitamins, antioxidants, and other plant compounds that have been shown to promote healthy skin. Antioxidants can help to prevent damage caused by free radicals, which are unstable particles that can harm your tissues and increase cancer risk.
This can be especially important for those of us who are frequently in the sun or exposed to UV light, which (in excess) can cause long-term skin damage and increase our chances of developing skin cancer.
3. Enjoy added sugar and processed carbohydrates in moderation
Diets high in added sugar and processed carbohydrates are thought to worsen acne and contribute to wrinkles and reduced skin elasticity. Dairy and gluten are also popular to blame for poor skin, with anecdotal accounts from individuals reporting improved skin after eliminating these items from their diet.
While limited research has shown potential associations between sugar, dairy, and gluten with acne and other skin conditions, these relationships have not been proven definitively. Individuals with a diagnosed allergy or intolerance to these foods may see improvement with elimination, but this doesn’t mean that everyone will.
4. Enjoy foods rich in these nutrients.
Consider replenishing your body with the following nutrients:
- Vitamin C – Found in most fruits and vegetables
- Vitamin A/carotenoids – Found in carrots, sweet potatoes, milk, eggs, fatty fish, tomatoes, mangoes, and papaya
- Zinc – Found in animal products, seafood, and some fortified cereals
- Selenium – Found in Brazil nuts, fish, and ham
- Omega-3 fatty acids – Found in plant oils (soybean/canola), fish and seafood, and certain nuts and seeds (flaxseed, chia seeds, walnuts)
5. Reduce your sun exposure
You may be aware that some vitamin D can be naturally synthesized through the skin through exposure to sunlight. However, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) still advises the public to avoid prolonged, unprotected exposure to UV light from sunlight and tanning beds.
You can still spend anywhere from 10-30 minutes safely in the sun for about 3 times per week (depending on your skin type and where you live) in order to achieve the natural vitamin D producing effects from sunlight. The AAD also recommends consuming vitamin D through dietary forms, such as tuna, salmon, or fortified foods.
Not only will these 5 tips help contribute to healthier skin, but they’re also likely to help you feel better overall. Enjoy a balanced, varied diet, load up on those fruits & veggies, drink your water, and don’t forget your sunscreen.
And be sure to check out the American Academy of Dermatology for more tips and information on caring for your skin.
Adapted from the original article.
Liana Flint, MS, RD is a registered dietitian with a passion for iced coffee, good food, and talking about nutrition. As a part of the Yeah Girl! Nutrition team, she provides people with encouragement and nutrition education as they work to crush their goals.