Earlier this week I had a great photo shoot at a favourite local venue. I needed to update my headshots and other photos for the relaunch of my website (later this fall). This time for the photo shoot, we shot fun, casual photos in the gardens. I can’t wait to share the photos with you. Leading up to the shoot, I was careful to include a variety of foods that promote skin health and to keep well hydrated. Remember, the skin is our largest organ, it is important to consider not only what you put on top of your skin, but what you fuel your body with. Hempseeds, salmon, avocados, strawberries and green tea were all on my meal plan last week (and are on most weeks)!
In my first Grow with Nutrition blog post Optimizing Skin Health with Food, I focused on the key skin nutrients: omega-3 fatty acids; vitamin C; beta-carotene; lycopene and zinc and then gave you some of my favourite foods with each nutrient. I recommended including at least two skin optimizing foods in your daily meal plan. For this post, I’m expanding on pumpkin, pumpkin seeds and flaxseed oil. Another mini exposure to my new book about the small but mighty seeds launching in early 2015!
Beauty from the Inside Out
It is important to eat healthy, balanced meals and not to focus on a single ingredient or ‘silver bullet’ to maintain skin health. Remember to get good, restful ZZZs, as sleep allows your body to repair and rejuvenate. Include good sources of dietary carbohydrates (i.e. barley and oats) and high quality protein (i.e. lean meat, poultry and fish) as they both assist in cellular growth. Think about adding strawberries and tomatoes to a couple of meals each week. They are both high in vitamin C which promotes collagen formation and helps the immune system. Salmon and green tea are two of my favourites to include in my meal plan! Salmon is a good source of marine omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E and green tea has antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties – all great things for skin health.
- Flaxseed oil is a good source of the plant omega-3 essential fatty acids ALA (alpha-linolenic acid). Both marine and plant essential fatty acids help to regulate inflammation and are in important part of maintaining healthy cell membranes. A comparison study was completed with 45 healthy, non-smoking women between 18 and 65 years of age. The women supplemented their diet with 2.2 g of flaxseed oil (high in omega-3) or borage oil (high in omega-6) daily for 12 weeks and were compared to a placebo group. After 12 weeks both oil groups had significantly increased skin hydration, reduced roughness, scaling, reddening and blood flow (when the skin was purposely irritated) compared to the placebo group (1).
- Flaxseed oil is a good source of the fat-soluble antioxidant, vitamin E. Vitamin E protects the skin from oxidative stress and UV-induced photo-damage, plus it also helps regulate collagen and elastin breakdown in skin (2, 3).
Pumpkin and Pumpkin Seeds for Skin Health
- Pumpkin is a great source of beta-carotene, which is a precursor to vitamin A and can act like an antioxidant. Vitamin A has been shown to prevent collagen breakdown in the skin when it’s exposed to UV-light and helps increase skin’s thickness, reducing the appearance of wrinkles (2).
- Pumpkin seeds are high in zinc. Zinc is important to skin health because it is a vital part of wound healing, has anti-inflammatory functions and may reduce acne by inhibiting the stimulation of sebaceous glands in the skin (4).
Think avocadoes, flaxseed oil, hempseeds, pumpkin, pumpkin seeds, tomatoes, salmon and strawberries for skin health!
For a healthy skin packed meal try this pan seared salmon with pumpkin seed cilantro pesto recipe from Bonappetit.com. And I recommend using ¼ cup of flaxseed oil for the pesto!
What other recipes will you make to get more skin health optimizing foods into your meals for the week?
- De Spirt S, Stahl W, Tronnier H, Sies H, Bejot M, Maurette JM, et al. Intervention with flaxseed and borage oil supplements modulates skin condition in women. Br J Nutr. 2009;101:440-445.
- Zussman J, Ahdout J, Kim J. Vitamins and photoaging: Do scientific data support their use? J Am Acad Dermatol. 2010;63(3):507-525.
- Rona C, Berardesca E. Aging skin and food supplements: The myth and the truth. Clinics in Dermatology. 2008;26:641-647.
- Schwartz JR, Marsh R, Draelos ZD. Zinc and skin health: Overview of physiology and pharmacology. Dermatol Surg. 2005 July;31(7):837-847.