Beauty is in the skin!

Healthy skin is not perfect skin. It may have birth marks, visible pores, occasional blemishes and fine lines and wrinkles. But healthy skin is even in color not red or inflamed, neither too oily nor too dry, and smooth with few breaks or blemishes. It is supple. It is radiant. It glows.

Skin is affected by genetics, hormones, environment, health conditions and medications, and behavior. Out of these, behavior, that is lifestyle and diet, are under our control.


  • Do not smoke. It causes premature aging, wrinkles, skin infections, and some skin disorders including psoriasis.
  • Avoid or reduce alcohol. It causes facial redness, dermatitis, rosacea, skin infections, psoriasis.
  • Get enough sleep. Less than eight hours of sleep a day makes skin dry and more wrinkled, and makes the complexion ashen, drab, or lifeless.
  • Do regular exercise. It improves skin structure and reduces age-related skin deterioration. Do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, every week. Or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity every week.
  • Reduce stress. It decreases blood flow to the skin, delays skin healing and raises inflammation levels. Exercise, diet, meditation, yoga, music, social activity are a few of the many ways to reduce stress.
  • Avoid UV light. Exposure to it over a long period of time causes dry skin, blemishes, loss of elasticity, and premature aging. UV light may also cause non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) which is not fatal but can cause serious scars, damage, and disfigurement. Wear broad-spectrum sunscreen, stay in shade, avoid being in sun between 10 am to 4 pm.
  • Avoid repeated dieting. Repeated loss and regain in weight cause sagging, wrinkles and stretch marks on the skin. Also, crash diets are often deficient in essential vitamins and minerals, and this too affects the skin.

Nutrients for healthy skin

The essential nutrients for healthy skin are vitamins A, B2 (Riboflavin), B6 (pyridoxine), C, D, Omega-3 fatty acids and Zinc.

Diet for healthy skin

Beta-carotene and lutein are both important for normal skin cell development and healthy skin tone. Beta-carotene is found in orange fruit, cantaloupe, apricots, and in vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoespumpkins, dark leafy greens (spinach, mustard greens, beet greens), red and yellow bell peppers, broccoli, and podded peas. Lutein is found in kale, papaya, spinach, Romaine lettuce, corn, parsley, pistachios, and egg yolks.

Vitamin C promotes radiant skin and helps blemishes heal. It is required to form the protein collagen that keeps the skin plump and supported and strengthens the blood capillaries that supply the blood that nourishes skin. Its best sources are blueberries, strawberries, guava, kiwi fruits, oranges, papaya, sweet potatoes, blackcurrants, potatoes, broccoli, peppers, and brussels sprouts.

Vitamin E protects the skin from oxidative stress and from photo-aging. Foods high in vitamin E include asparagus, mango, avocados, almonds, hazelnuts, pine nuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, safflower, soybean, sunflower, wheat germ oil, peanuts, and peanut butter.

Selenium is an antioxidant and works with vitamins C and E to protect against skin cancer, sun damage and age spots. Good sources of selenium are Brazil nuts, mushrooms, lima or pinto beans, fish, shellfish, eggs, wheatgerm, tomatoes and broccoli.

Zinc the mineral keeps skin supple and helps repair skin damage. Zinc-rich foods include fish, lean red meat, wholegrains, poultry, nuts, seeds, oats, muesli, milk, yoghurt, cashews, pomegranates, raspberries, apricots, peaches, and shellfish.

Omega-3 fatty acids build healthy skin, are anti-inflammatory, and may help in skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. Rich sources of Omega 3 are mackerel, salmon, trout, herring, sardines, flaxseed, chia seeds walnuts, soybeans, and rapeseed oil.

Healthy fats (omega-6 fatty acids) nourish the skin, keep the skin supple, improve its structure and elasticity, and heal wounds. Rich sources are nuts, seeds, and healthy oils (olive oil, rice bran oil), fish and fish oil.

Phyto-estrogens, found in plants, are natural compounds that keep our natural hormones in balance, support skin structure, and minimise skin damage. Soya such as tofu and tempeh, and the fibre of wholegrains, fruits, vegetables and flaxseed are good sources of Phyto-estrogens which are especially important at mid-life.

Fluids keep the skin moist and flexible. Even mild dehydration leaves the skin dry, tired, and slightly grey. Drink six to eight glasses of fluids, including water, a day. Water is the best fluid. Do not drink much more than that because it can cause water intoxication.

Dark chocolate has bioactive compounds such as flavanols which improve blood flow to the skin, increase skin density and hydration, and protect against sun damage, Chocolate must be at least 70% dark and without any added sugar.

Turmeric prevents clogging of the skin pores, may stop the growth of acne-causing bacteria, and help in quicker healing of inflamed skin. Take turmeric in a glass of milk or add fresh turmeric to curries, salad dressing, and juices.

Dr. Sadhanakala

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