Quick, check yourself out in the mirror. Take a good look at your face, neck and décolleté area. Do a once-over on your arms and hands as well. What do you see? Smooth skin or rough and patchy? Hydrated or dry? Clear or blemished? What about your hair? Is it thick, lustrous and shiny, or limp, lackluster and full of dandruff?
What you look like on the outside is a direct reflection of what’s going on on the inside. Now, I’m not talking about aging — we’re all on the same boat heading in the same direction (although how we look and feel upon arrival is an entirely different story). I’m referring to healthy skin versus damaged or depleted skin.
In a nutshell, our skin is composed of three layers (epidermis, dermis and the subcutaneous tissue, or hypodermis), and what we eat impacts our digestion and assimilation of nutrients. Other things also affect the health of our bodies, such as sleep, exercise, hydration, using high-quality organic (if possible) skin care products and effectively managing stress.
One of the best things you can do for your skin is to eat clean: fresh organic vegetables and fruits; lean, high quality sources of protein; whole, unprocessed grains (for some people and for others best avoided). The next best thing is to make sure that your body is getting enough nutrients externally as well.
Here are some of the best sources of foods to build and repair collagen and elastin. Since collagen and keratin are proteins — guess what? — you need to eat proteins. Don’t go crazy, and start eating meat like it’s going out of style, though. Every living thing contains variations of proteins, so if you’re eating a well-balanced diet, chances are you’re getting enough.
• Dark leafy green vegetables: Spinach, kale and cabbage, oh my!
• Egg yolks and corn: Once again, cage-free (organic) eggs and non-GMO organic corn would be considered the superior sources. I personally enjoy my corn raw (so it’s not considered a starch), and therefore, I can enjoy it guilt-free. Some people have issues digesting cooked corn (or not digesting it period because they do not chew it), and do better when it isn’t.
• Orange peppers, sweet potatoes, lemons, and other foods that contain high Vitamin C content.
• Beans for their hyaluronic acid content, such as chickpeas, lentils, hummus, butter beans — you get the picture.
• Red fruits and veggies like strawberries (vitamin C), stewed tomatoes and beets are all excellent sources.
• Prunes: Who saw that one coming? Prunes are super high in antioxidants, and help to combat those pesky free radicals who love to tear down our beautiful bridges of collagen. Although experts recommend six prunes daily, I feel that this is a lot of sugar, so if you eat a couple of them in conjunction with other low-sugared fruits, such as blueberries or strawberries, I think you would still reap the same benefits.
• Omega 3 Fatty Acids: Fish, like wild salmon, and nuts, like cashews, brazil nuts and even almonds, are just a couple of examples of where to get some great quality sources. Just remember portion control!
• Flaxseed: I prefer it ground to make sure that it is completely digestible since whole seeds pass through the digestive system intact. If you’re going to make the effort, might as well make it worth it.
• High sulfur foods like broccoli, cabbage, olives, cucumbers, and celery are especially awesome for boosting collagen production. For even more potent results, pair them with vitamin A-rich foods, such as carrots, sweet potatoes and cantaloupe — yum!
I could keep going and going with rose hips, avocado oil, turkey, Manuka honey (from New Zealand), but alas, I am out of space! You get the picture though — pretty much anything that is good for you is good for your skin, inside and out! If you need any help or have any questions, I’m just an email away.
Crystal Manjarres is the owner of One-On-One Fitness, a private personal training and Pilates studio for men and women on Marco Island. She is a Certified Personal Trainer, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Colon Hydrotherapist and Stott Pilates certified instructor. Her focus is “empowering men and women of all shapes and sizes”. To send in a question, email Crystal@PinkIslandFitness.com. She can also be reached at www.101FIT.com or www.PinkIslandFitness.com and 239-333-5771.