Nourish with NorthBay Dietitians

Nourish is a blog written each week by NorthBay Healthcare dietitians. It focuses on health and nutrition with educational information, tips and advice as well as an occasional recipe.

Keep Your Skin Healthy This Summer

June 27, 2018

By Kathleen Shafer, M.A., R.D.

People tend to spend more time outside during the summer. In addition to sunscreen, here are some tips to keep your skin happy and healthy while you enjoy the great outdoors.

Vitamin C and E: are antioxidants that help reduce sun damage, they help protect against DNA damage, and improve your overall skin texture. Vitamin C is needed for formation of collagen, an essential support system to the skin. Antioxidants help reduce damage caused by smoke and pollution. There are many healthy options to get antioxidants via food and there are also topical creams available.

Food rich in Vitamin C:

  • Citrus fruits
  • Peppers
  • Potatoes - all kinds
  • Dark green leafy vegetables
  • Papaya
  • Berries
  • Pineapple

Foods rich in Vitamin E:

  • Seeds and nuts
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Wheat germ
  • Whole grains
  • Dried beans
  • Sweet potatoes

Vitamin A: Necessary for tissue healing and skin maintenance, it also may prevent sun damage. Vitamin A plays a part in skin cell regeneration which can lead to smoother skin. People deficient in Vitamin A may notice very dry skin, and those with psoriasis may benefit from adding more foods rich in Vitamin A. Vitamin A is most safely obtained through food.

Food rich in Vitamin A:

  • Fish and fish liver oils
  • Milk and milk products
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Egg yolks
  • Liver
  • Winter squash
  • Melons
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Papaya

Biotin: A deficiency of this nutrient can lead to dermatitis and other skin conditions.

Food rich in biotin:

  • Liver
  • Egg yolks
  • Soy beans
  • Fish
  • Whole grains

Selenium: May reduce the risk of skin cancer and help prevent sunburn. It is also an antioxidant that works closely with Vitamin E to prevent damage from free radicals.

Food rich in Selenium:

  • Seafood
  • Meats
  • Whole grains
  • Vegetables (soil dependent)

Zinc: Also helps protect skin from free radicals and is important for healthy cell membranes. Zinc is important for production and maintenance of collagen and elastin - which reduces wrinkles and sagging. Zinc helps in skin turnover too - which helps keep the complexion brighter.

Foods rich in Zinc:

  • Meat, poultry
  • Seafood (especially oysters)
  • Liver
  • Dried beans and peas
  • Whole grains
  • Vegetables (soil dependent)

Essential fatty acids: Deficiencies in these can lead to a multitude of skin problems; excessive dryness, inflammation and acne. Inflammation leads to the production of free radicals - which causes cells to age faster. Most people do not get enough of the Omega-3s.

Foods rich in Essential fatty acids:

  • Oil: olive, canola, peanut, walnut
  • Soybeans
  • Wheat germ
  • Walnuts
  • Fish: mackerel, salmon, bluefish, anchovies, herring, trout, sardines, tuna

Don't forget about protein, carbohydrates and water. Skin needs enough lean protein to replenish and rebuild skin cells and to minimize aging. Whole grains are the best pick for nourishing the skin as refined carbohydrates and sugar can actually accelerate the aging process by breaking down collagen. Since the skin is an organ made up of cells - adequate water intake can keep your skin from getting dry, tight and flaky. Well hydrated skin is less prone to wrinkling.

If you review the lists of skin friendly foods you'll note a trend that you've seen before. Lean protein choices, fresh colorful fruits and vegetables (including leafy greens), healthy fats, whole grains and legumes, and adequate fluids are the goal for healthy skin, a healthy heart and a happy active life. Be well.

The author is director of Nutrition Services at NorthBay Healthcare.

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