Alyssa writes:

"I recently came across a paper in the International Journal of Molecular Science on nutrients to enhance skin health. I was surprised by how much evidence there seems to be for certain nutritional compounds and their effects on skin. However, as a non-professional, I was a bit lost as to how we might translate these research findings into recommendations for the best foods or supplements. Could you dedicate a podcast episode to it?"

Your wish is my command, Alyssa! 

The skin is not only the largest organ of the body, it’s also the most visible. Not surprisingly, many of us think of skin health primarily in cosmetic terms: does my skin make me look older or younger than my years?

But the health of your skin affects far more than your appearance. As with any organ, good nutrition helps your skin function at its best. As a bonus, the right nutrients can help keep your skin looking younger and fresher as well.

Fats for your face

One of your skin’s most important functions is to keep the outside out and the insides in. To that end, it needs to be highly elastic yet extremely durable. It needs to be breathable yet waterproof. It needs to allow nutrients in but keep pathogens out. All of these functions depend on the integrity of the cell membranes and healthy fats keep your cell membranes in good condition. In fact, people on extremely low-fat diets often have a lot of skin problems.

Monounsaturated fats, the type found in olives, almonds, and avocados, also help keep your skin healthy and youthful-looking. As a bonus, they also protect against heart disease and weight gain.

Both omega-3 and omega-6 fats are needed for healthy skin, but too much omega-6 (or too little omega-3) can create inflammation and accelerate aging. Because most of us get plenty of omega-6 already, focus on eating some foods rich in omega-3s each day. Flax, hemp, chia, and, of course, fish are all good sources of omega-3s.

Chia vs. Hemp vs. Flax

Nutrients for UV protection

The skin also needs to withstand daily doses of UV radiation from the sun, which accelerates aging and can lead to skin cancer. Antioxidants help out on both counts, shielding the skin from damage and helping to repair any damage that does occur. The easiest way to increase your intake of antioxidants is to focus on upping your intake of fruits and vegetables.

The healthy...

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