Sure, bronzer warms up your complexion in both winter and summer. Pink blusher bolsters the rosy-cheek look that you get when it’s bitterly cold. Iridescent powder highlights your features irresistibly… But what if genuine glow came first and foremost from what you eat?
To understand how nutrition can give you a healthy look and fine-looking complexion, you just need to refresh your knowledge of the basics. Starting with the anatomy of the skin! It’s nothing complicated. The skin is comprised of three layers: the epidermis, the dermis and the hypodermis. Like the rest of the body, the skin is about 70% water. It is also some 30% protein, 2% fat and slightly less than 1% minerals and trace elements. So what better than to give it fuel for its fundamental processes, handed over on a plate for it to regenerate itself?
When the skin is thirsty…
The skin consists partly of water. So give it a drink, before it is even thirsty. You will help your stratum corneum, a kind of wall made of bricks (cells) and mortar (mainly lipids). This stratum corneum that we hear so much about is where the skin’s water reserves lie. Drinking water, and eating foods containing it, make it possible to continuously top up these water reserves for optimal internal hydration. It also stops these reserves from leaking out. Because a regular supply of water shores up all of the wall’s components day by day. While water is precious because of all that it brings with it, it is equally so because of its ability to expunge toxins, which are the nemesis of a radiant complexion.
When the skin is hungry…
It’s nothing complicated – the perfect nutrition for the skin is that containing everything of which it is comprised. That way, it can draw what it needs to regenerate itself. To cater to the protein that makes up 30% of the skin, give it protein. Whether animal or plant-based, it supplies the amino acids that prompt collagen and keratin production. Add some lipids to it to reproduce the fat which makes up 2% of the skin, keeping it supple and able to regenerate itself. This fat will supply the skin with the fatty acids essential to the formation of a high-quality hydrolipid film to protect it from external damaging factors. Because fat and water are perfect partners for fighting water leaks and boosting cell regeneration in the skin. Moreover, it’s not by chance that beauty products (either water-in-oil or oil-in-water emulsions) work in exactly the same way, albeit in topical use. Pimp your plate by adding copper, manganese, zinc (meat, seafood, legumes, fish and cereals) and also vitamins B, C, D, E, K, etc. In a nutshell, supply the trace elements and vitamins essential to oxygenation and the skin’s vitality and also to its day-to-day fight against oxidative stress (pollution, sun exposure and stress, etc.). You’ll find them in a variety of market produce including seasonal fruit and vegetables (sensibly farmed and preferably organic), fresh herbs, high-quality spices and protein. Short supply chains are a given.
One attractive skin meal deal please!
The more colour there is on your plate, the more vitamins there are in your food! The green in spinach, broccoli, salad leaves and courgettes allows you to load up on chlorophyll which oxygenates the cells. The red in raspberries, strawberries and pomegranates indicates the presence of antioxidants, which fight cell ageing. The yellow and orangey hues of carrots, apricots, yellow peppers, tomatoes, pumpkin and sweet potatoes release beta-carotene, a pro-vitamin of vitamin A, which is essential to achieving that healthy look that we like so much. Are you tempted by a seafood platter? It’s perfect for loading up on zinc, which helps to clear blemishes by regulating sebum secretion.
For the main course, protein helped down with good fats!
Eat eggs for vitamins B and A, selenium and zinc; fish and high-quality white meat for protein. The latter promotes the production of collagen and elastin, which are key to the skin’s vitality. If you prefer the plant-based protein in pulses, you’ll be pleased to hear that they too shore up firm skin. Besides the protein in fatty fish (salmon, herring, tuna, mackerel, sardines, etc.), it also supplies good fat which is known for its anti-inflammatory action. It’s the same one found in oils (rapeseed, linseed, cameline, olive), nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts, macadamia, cashew and pecan nuts), linseeds and avocadoes. These fatty acids keep the skin supple, too. Don’t forget to switch between different sources of fatty acids for optimal supplies of omegas 3, 6 and 9.
Fruit for dessert!
To address a sallow complexion, rein in added sugar. Opt for raw or cooked fruit. Like raw salad vegetables, it contains water which pumps the hydrolipidic film back up, and gives the skin bounce. Don’t forget that refined sugar, which has a very inflammatory effect on the skin, makes for a dull complexion. The same goes for milk. Often not well tolerated, it slows digestion and causes minor blemishes to appear. Are you a bit of a sweet tooth? Then opt for coconut sugar, stevia, dates or mashed banana in your homemade cakes. The natural sugars that they contain have less of an inflammatory effect.
Lastly, make a habit of striking an “acid-alkaline balance”. That means keeping 2/3 of your plate for an alkaline side dish (fresh vegetables or salad, but you can forget chips, since they are acidic!) and 1/3 for animal protein (acidic). Ultimately, the secret to a glowy complexion is a healthy diet. Now you’re all clued up about that… And it puts a smile on your face!