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In honour of “skin care and self care” month here at Merge Health, I thought I’d explore key nutrients needed for glowing, healthy skin. What you put inside of your body is just as important (if not more!) than what you put on the outside surface.

Protein
Ensure you’re getting essential amino acids (building blocks of proteins) from your foods. Adequate protein is the foundation for skin, hair, nails and organs. All the essential amino acids are found in animal products such as free range eggs, wild-caught fish, grass-fed beef and free range chicken. Quinoa and hemp seeds are two plant foods that are also complete proteins. As long as you include a variety of protein foods, your body should get enough amino acids. Other vegetarian protein sources include mixed nuts and seeds (almonds, walnuts, chia seeds), organic and fermented tofu, tempeh, lentils, beans and rice.

Tip: you can also try a hydrolysed collagen protein powder (unflavoured), and mix into your tea or coffee. Don’t forget your bone broths and soups!

Healthy fats

Fats in our diet help our skin lock in moisture. Get nourishing omega-3 (polyunsaturated) fats from oily fish such as sardines, mackeral or salmon, as well as flaxseeds and walnuts. Also you can add an extra monounsaturated fat source to your meals, fats such as avocado, extra virgin olive oil and almonds.

Zinc
An essential trace mineral needed for over 200 reactions in the body such as boosting our immune system, wound healing, and needed for healthy skin, hair and nails. Food sources include oysters, red meat, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds

Silica
Another important trace mineral that acts as the glue to join amino acids and collagen together, supporting skin integrity. Silica is also needed in joint health and hair loss. Include dark green leafy greens, leeks, asparagus and cucumber. However, supplementation is often required for higher dosages.

Antioxidants
Of course we cannot forget about antioxidants vitamin C, E and A!  Not only is vitamin C and A required for collagen formation, just like Vitamin E, they all protect our DNA and cells from free radical damage.
Vitamin C rich foods include guava, papaya, citrus fruit, kiwi fruit, mixed berries, pomegranate, pineapple and capsicums. For Vitamin E, choose almonds, olive oil, avocado, spinach and sunflower seeds. To include Vitamin A and beta-carotene, include carrots, sweet potato, eggs, kale, spinach, cod liver oil and liver.

Water
Staying hydrated is key to maintaining glowing, healthy skin. Water helps your body remove build up of toxins, whilst delivering nutrients to the whole body. Aim for 35-45ml per kilogram of body weight, per day. Herbal teas and soups are included.

In the quest for healthier skin, its important to include a variety of nutrients to give your body the right tools in skin regeneration.

If there are ongoing issues such as acne, rosacea, dermatitis, psoriasis, eczema, rashes or hyperpigmentation, it’s best to see a holistic healthcare practitioner.

Written by Integrative Dietician, Bonny Chow.
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