Feed your cells… for better skin!

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Whether eaten in food form, or taken as a supplement, an internal skin care program should incorporate plenty of anti-inflammatory foods and dietary nutrients, to avoid Inflammation and cell water loss.

As a person ages, the body develops the ability to react disproportionately (either too much or too little) to what it perceives as an injury or invasion.

Inflammation is really a sign that the body is attempting to protect itself. It is also a sign of cellular water loss. Inflammation causes cell damage, and has been linked to countless conditions from Alzheimer’s disease, to diabetes, to heart disease, and even to wrinkles.

When cells are not fully hydrated, they cannot function at optimal levels, thus leading to cell damage and aging. Additionally, when cells deteriorate, the body’s immune response does not function well.

Therefore, based on this water principle, the collective idea is to reinforce cellular membranes, prevent cell water loss and encourage the accumulation of intracellular water, to ensure that all cells and connective tissues function at their optimum levels.

Drinking water, however, isn’t the answer -the cells have to be fed! An anti-inflammatory diet will fortify connective tissues, cells and their membranes with the antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and lipids they need for quick healing, resiliency and supple, youthful skin.

Anti-inflammatory foods

Anti-inflammatory foods include those stocked with antioxidants, such as brightly colored fruits and vegetables, and healthful, essential fatty acid and rich protein.

Inflammatory Foods and Anti-inflammatory Alternatives

•    Instead of red meat, eat cold-water fish or chicken

•    Instead of butter, use olive oil.

•    Instead of cheese, try tofu or soy cheese.

•    Instead of snacks loaded with saturated or trans fats, try seeds, nuts, and fresh and natural dried fruits.

•    Instead of foods loaded with simple sugars, such as cookies, candy and cake, choose fresh fruits and vegetables.

Early studies have also indicated that sulfur-containing foods, such as garlic, onions, meat and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower) can offer anti-inflammatory and detoxifying benefits. Sulfur is found in every living cell in the body, and it plays a key role in collagen synthesis.

Special concerns

Although inflammation-abating foods are good for cell health in general, there are some nutrients that are better than others for specific skin conditions.

Acne Vitamin A helps normalize the production of excess skin cells that clog the pore within the follicles. Vitamins B-1, B-2, B-3 and B-6 assist with tissue growth and repair, and zinc helps to reduce the inflammation of acne. Antioxidants such as grape seed extract also reduce inflammation from acne and free radicals.

Stressed skin B vitamins and glucosamine (found in foods like shrimp, prawn, crab and oysters) are essential for tissue repair and healing, as is vitamin C and pomegranate, which boosts skin’s natural SPF. In addition, oregano, an anti-inflammatory herb, and curcumin, which comes from turmeric (found in curries), offer cell-protective and anti-cancer benefits. Zinc also relieves inflammation, and essential fatty acids strengthen skin cell membranes. Lecithin (sourced from soya beans, corn, cottonseed, peanuts, and sunflowers) is also excellent for stressed or over-processed skin, because it is a major component of cellular membranes. Lecithin makes cell membranes strong, so intracellular water doesn’t leak.

Feed your cells for better skin!

Alice Odera is a certified nutritionist, and a licensed skin therapist.

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