Sunscreen, facials, exfoliants, lotions…the list (and number of occupied shelves in your bathroom closet) goes on. We do a lot of things for our skin, most of which is via an outside/in approach, hoping that these pricey products will be absorbed through the skin and prevent aging and skin issues. Skin is considered “epithelial tissue,” which is a fancy way for describing tissues that cover and protect body surfaces. Epithelial tissue is unique in that it occurs in many layers and has a high rate of cellular turnover. The top layers are constantly being sloughed off and replaced, meaning that maintaining healthy skin requires a steady supply of nutrients. This is especially important when you factor in sun exposure, as the UV rays accelerate damage and the need for repair. In addition to the topical tools you may already use, start to incorporate these five fabulous foods to keep skin healthy from the inside out.
- Eggs: Protein is absolutely essential for rebuilding damaged skin tissues. Eggs are a convenient, affordable complete protein, meaning they contain all the amino acids that humans can’t produce themselves and must consume through food. Bonus: there are 13+ micronutrients in the yolk. Most impressive is the selenium content (25% of the daily value), as this nutrient has been shown to reduce skin cancer risk when consumed through food.
- Tomatoes: These juicy fruits are the holy grail for lycopene, an antioxidant compound that gives red and pink produce their color. Lycopene, when consumed in the form of tomatoes, has been associated with reduced risk for sunburn and skin cancer. The benefits are not limited to fresh tomatoes- in fact, much of the research has examined more concentrated forms of tomatoes, including tomato paste and canned tomatoes.
- Sweet Potatoes: Vitamin A, in food form, has been associated with reduced risk of cancer overall, including skin cancer. As one of the most nutrient-dense foods available, sweet potatoes contain several antioxidant vitamins which likely work in concert to repair skin and cellular damage. Sweet potatoes pair so well with other foods, making them a versatile base for skin-healthy recipes.
- Olive Oil: At baseline, there are several fats needed to keep skin plump, moisturized, and free from physical damage, and most of these fats cannot be produced internally, so they must be consumed through food. Olive oil contains many of these essential fatty acids, and extra virgin olive oil, as it is in a more natural state, also contains many bioactive plant compounds that may deliver even more benefit. New research (still needs to be validated in actual ‘in-vitro’ human studies) has shown that natural compounds in olive oil may directly neutralize cancerous cells. It has already been observed that populations following the Mediterranean diet, which is heavily centered around the use of this fat, have lower rates of skin cancer.
- Green Tea: Pull up a mug, because green tea is absolutely packed with a class of antioxidants called “polyphenols.” These compounds have been shown to scavenge and neutralize cancer cells, decrease overall inflammation, and actively promote skin repair following UV-related damage, even absorbing UV rays directly. Brewed, hot green tea contains the highest amounts of polyphenols.
So, pull out the iron skillet, grease with olive oil, add 6 beaten eggs, chopped sweet potato and tomato, and bake until firm. Enjoy your nutrient-packed frittata with a cup of warm green tea. This is what inside/out skincare looks like, and it tastes a whole lot better than eating sunscreen.
Disclaimer: This information is educational only and not providing healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.