‘You are what you eat’ has long been a go-to adage for Nutritionists, Dieticians and Personal Trainers when encouraging us to eat a balanced healthy diet. But, this age-old saying rings incredibly true when it comes to looking after your skin. What we put into our bodies shows on our skin, and there are some key skin-supporting nutrients that can even help our skincare work even harder for us:
Antioxidants are your skin's best friend; they help protect from free radical damage and oxidative stress. These environmental stressors can cause wrinkles, pigmentation and a number of other skin concerns. So as well as applying them topically via your favourite serum or moisturiser, be sure you’re consuming them in your diet as well. There are a plethora of antioxidant vitamins and minerals, so we’ve narrowed it down to a couple of our favourite key skin-supporting ones:
Vitamin C is a powerhouse of an antioxidant and supports a number of your body’s key systems such as your immune system. It is also found at high levels in both the epidermis and the dermis of your skin, meaning getting enough of this vitamin is key to a healthy complexion. Vitamin C supports collagen production, helps to heal damaged skin and can reduce the appearance of wrinkles. A lot of us are only really conscious of our Vitamin C intake during cold and flu season, but if you want a glowing complexion we suggest you ensure you’re consuming enough of this antioxidant all year round - your skin will thank us.
Selenium is an essential mineral that we need to get through our diet as our body can’t produce it, so stock up on brazil nuts and pumpkin seeds! Like other antioxidants it helps protect against oxidative stress and fights free radicals. It also fights inflammatory cytokines that eventually cause skin damage and has also been said to help reduce the incidence of acne. When you pair this mineral with Vitamin E, it may help boost your bodies’ levels of glutathione (a.k.a the ‘master antioxidant’) which may help skin heal.
Zinc is a hard working mineral that contributes to a number of our body’s essential functions. Unfortunately, we can’t store it for long periods of time, so getting your daily dose is important, but fortunately we can get enough of this essentail mineral through zinc-rich foods such as lentils, nuts, seeds and beans. (It’s worth noting that you can over-consume zinc so ensure you’re following the correct dosage if you’re supplementing.) When consumed orally, zinc gets to work with other vitamins and minerals to look after your skin from within; it has been shown to decrease the severity of acne as well as the signs of skin maturation.
While we may mock millennials for their obsession with avocados, but, it turns out they’re really onto something when it comes to supporting your skin from within. They are an amazing vegan source of healthy fats: The monounsaturated fat acts like a natural moisturiser for your skin, helping to improve elasticity and keep it supple, while the polyunsaturated fats help protect against environmental damage such as harmful UV rays.
As we age our oestrogen levels need a helping hand. Phytoestrogens are similar to oestrogen, but they’re derived from the reproductive systems of plants such as berries, grapes and flaxseeds. When it comes to our skin phytoestrogens have been shown to support the production of elastin: Elastin is a key building block for healthy skin as it supports our connective tissues and helps to prevent sagging. However, unlike oestrogen, phytoestrogens are tyrosinase inhibitors meaning they can help with hyperpigmentation and age spots.
Delicious smoothies can be a great way to boost your nutrition and ensure you’re getting those key skin-supporting vitamins and minerals. Here are Team Olivanna’s favourite skin-supporting smoothie recipes. Simply pop all the ingredients in your blender, whizz up and enjoy. Each of these recipes makes 1- 2 servings:
Glow Berry Skin Smoothie :
4 to 5 large Strawberries
Large handful chopped Kale
1 2bsp Vegan Yogurt
2 teaspoons Chia seeds
Water to top up - use coconut water for an extra dose of electrolytes
Green Skin Saviour:
This one is slightly different as you’ll need to blend the pear, apple, spinach and about a pint of water first. Then, once it’s smooth add the lemon and banana for a final whizz in the blender. This smoothie is supposed to have ‘bits’ in to ensure you’re getting all the fibre from the fruit and veg. If it’s a little too ‘green’ for your liking add in a teaspoon of agave on your final blend.
Tropical Avocado Smoothie:
1 mango - chopped
Half a pineapple - chopped
1 banana - chopped
1 handful spinach
1 handful kale
1 avocado - peeled and chopped
1 pint coconut water - can add more or less for desired consistency
1 tbsp ground flaxseeds