For skin to look radiant and feel smooth and toned, it needs to be nourished by the very best beauty nutrients. Discover the top skin nurturing nutrients that form the foundation for a healthy complexion, helping to keep skin looking luminous and beautiful every day.
These essential compounds, found in many plants, play a critical role in protecting the body against the damaging effect of “free radicals” – the unstable chemicals that result from environmental and dietary toxins that have an ageing effect on skin, causing a loss of skin tone and signs of ageing such as fine lines and wrinkles. Antioxidants protect collagen and elastin, vital proteins that maintain our skin’s elasticity, and boost the circulation to the tiny blood vessels near the skin’s surface, enhancing our skin’s natural radiance. The main skin antioxidants, such as carotenoids, vitamins C and E, flavonoids, and resveratrol, are found abundantly in fresh fruit and vegetables. To ensure you’re getting enough of these beauty-promoting nutrients, you need to eat a whole “rainbow” of fresh vegetables and fruit, from berries and green leafy vegetables, to squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, and beetroot. One 2015 study found that organically grown fruit and veg provided even more antioxidants, and that switching to organic produce was the equivalent of eating one or two extra portions of fruit and vegetables each day.
This essential vitamin, found in many fresh fruits and vegetables, deserves a special mention as it’s key to collagen production, the protein that aids the growth of cells and blood vessels, gives skin its firmness and strength, and helps skin to repair itself. An antioxidant, vitamin C reduces the impact of harmful free radicals on collagen, and research suggests that it protects the skin against the harmful effects of UVB short rays from the sun. Our bodies can’t store vitamin C so it’s vital to include it in our diet each day.
Essential fatty acids (EFA)
Healthy skin needs healthy fats, in particular, a group of polyunsaturated fats called essential fatty acids, the two main ones being omega-3 and omega-6. These fats support cell membranes and help maintain the skin’s natural oil barrier, critical for keeping skin hydrated, plump, and smooth. Your body can’t make omega-3 and omega-6 on its own, so you need to obtain them through your diet. It’s important, too, to get the right balance of these fats. Omega-6, found in foods such as meats, cereal grains, and vegetable oils, helps cells to function, but too much has an inflammatory effect, while omega-3, found in foods such as oily fish, eggs, nuts, chia, flaxseeds, and hemp seeds, is anti-inflammatory, calming skin. Many of us eat too much omega-6 from meats and cereals and not enough omega-3, so try to reverse this balance to optimize health, lines and sagging skin.
Like EFAs, protein is obtained through the foods you eat daily, and around 15 per cent of our diet should be based on protein. Sources of healthy proteins come from hemp seeds, tofu, eggs, quinoa, algae, spinach, nuts, beans, and pulses, and from fish, and a little lean meat and dairy.
This gel-like, water-holding molecule helps skin cells to retain moisture and also facilitates the passage of nutrients into the skin and the removal of waste products. Studies show that hyaluronic acid (HA), an antioxidant, increases skin hydration, stimulates collagen production, and improves skin elasticity. The body manufactures HA from certain vegetables, in particular soy foods and sweet potatoes, so increase your intake of tofu, miso, and sweet potato.
This mineral is one of the most important raw materials for healthy new skin cells. With the help of vitamin C and other key nutrients, it builds and maintains supple, permeable cell walls. It also has detoxifying properties that can help to clear blemishes, and it is thought to help reduce the appearance of acne scars and pigmentation issues such as age spots and sun damage. Sulphur is plentiful in green leafy vegetables such as kale, broccoli, spinach, and rocket.
Staying hydrated is essential for the health of your skin. Dehydrated skin feels tight and can appear flaky, rough, and finely lined. As well as drinking up to 2 litres (31/2 pints) of water daily, supplement hydration through your diet by eating foods with a high water content, such as cucumbers, watermelon, and celery.
Our skin is formed mainly of protein, and a lack of healthy proteins can result in a loss of skin tone and signs of premature ageing such as fine.