Is A Plant-Based Diet Good For Your Skin?

We’ve all made our “healthy” New Year’s resolutions at some point in our lives, right? For most of us, it only lasts a few months (or days) into the year, but others turn their resolutions into their lifestyle. Whichever category you fall into, we all have room for improvement.

Let’s say we fall into the first group of confident but short-lived dreamers. We begin the diet with high hopes, feeling strong and ready to conquer the world. The first couple months, you probably felt and looked happy and healthy, but you decided that you deserve to treat yourself with maybe a couple days of salty, fatty snacks. And then, you felt tired, weighed down, and depressed. Sound familiar?

One of the outward indications that you have steered away from your diet is the change in your complexion. Your reverting to an unhealthier diet may result in your skin feeling a little dry or acne beginning to spread. You can’t avoid it – whatever nutrients you choose to put into your body will show by the health of your skin.

How can a plant-based diet improve your skin?

Did you know that your skin is the largest organ of the body? Not only that, it makes up 16% of our body’s weight. Why, then, do we disregard the necessities and care our skin needs daily?

It’s been shown that eating plant-based foods reduces the chances of skin inflammation. At the same time, it increases alkalinity in the body, specifically by foods high in omega-3 fatty acids or unsaturated fatty acid. Fatty acids aid in providing energy for the muscles, heart, and other organs, making them the building blocks for cell membranes, and are used as energy storage for the body.

Inflammation is a mechanism of the body that indicates there is something in your body that it cannot accept. Inflammation is warning you that there is something harmful your body is encountering, such as pollution, sun exposure, or certain foods. Inflammation is usually short term until you find the source and discontinue contact. It becomes a danger when the inflammation is chronic. This is usually due to that fact that the harmful cause is not addressed and stopped.

Chronic inflammation is due to glycation. Glycation is the process of sugar molecules binding, damaging, or breaking down essential proteins in the body. This includes a protein called collagen that is found in our skin. Glycation is not only linked to aging, but it’s also linked to life-threatening chronic diseases like vascular disease and atherosclerosis. Consuming refined sugars triggers the process of glycation.

How can we boost the health of our skin?

Your body needs fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes because these foods contain the essential nutrients that the body requires to flourish. As it turns out, your skin needs these nutrients just as much as the rest your body.

For example, vitamins E and C protect the skin from sun exposure and decreases wrinkles. Vitamin A maintains and repairs skin tissue. It is important to remember the vitamin B complex, specifically biotin. Biotin is the basis for your skin, hair, and nails and is vital to keeping the skin barrier functionally strong and protecting against external harm. There are minerals that are required for healthy skin as well. Zinc, copper, and selenium play roles in skin barrier function, protection against free radicals, and prevention from skin conditions.

Improve your digestion to improve your skin health

Even your digestive health is connected to your skin health. For instance, if you aren’t consuming plenty of healthy fats, your skin will be drier and your digestive process will be disrupted. Ensure that your body has enough good bacteria such as probiotics. When your gut has the correct number of probiotics, it activates vitamin K, magnesium, calcium, zinc and some B vitamins. All of these are important for healthy skin.

So, what plant-based foods are the best for our skin?

Avocados – yes our beloved avocados made the list! Not only are avocados high in all the essential nutrients for the body, they have everything your skin needs to thrive, such as vitamins E and C, as well as antioxidants such as lycopene and beta-carotene and essential fatty acids.

Walnuts are high in omega-3, which is important in reducing inflammation, as well as zinc, selenium, and antioxidants. Nuts and seeds are nutrient-packed and are good for overall health, but sunflower seeds specifically lead to benefiting skin health since they contain selenium, zinc, linoleic acid, and vitamin E.

Bell peppers, leafy greens, and sweet potatoes are a good source of beta-carotene, an antioxidant that is converted to vitamin A and not only keeps your skin youthful but also improves your longevity. Finally, broccoli is rich in beta-carotene, lutein, zinc, vitamin A, and vitamin C. But broccoli is best known for the chemical compound sulforaphane. Sulforaphane is proven to benefit skin health by being an antioxidant, anti-microbial, and anti-inflammatory.

With all these newfound, plant-based foods that support your skin, it should make you want these foods as part of your weekly grocery list. The plant-based diet touches every aspect of our physical health and improves it by leaps and bounds. Take charge of your health today and make it a lifelong commitment – not just a New Year’s resolution, but a lifelong resolution.

Raeann Leal
Raeann Leal

Raeann is a graduate student at Loma Linda University School of Public Health pursuing her MPH in Lifestyle Medicine. In her free time, Raeann likes to cook unique and healthy dishes, read relevant and recent research articles related to diseases and their cures, and experience the outdoors.

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