Is a plant-based diet the key to clear skin?

-Jul 7, Caroline Blight , Nutrition -

As the enthusiasm for plant-based diets and the range of options for those looking to eat less meat and more veggies and fruits increases, research into how this kind of diet affects our bodies is growing. We take a look at if eating more vegetables helps give you clear skin. 

Anecdotal evidence from those embracing plants and limiting, or even eliminating meat, fish and dairy, talks about how good such a diet can be for skin quality and healthy-ageing. Unprocessed plant-based foods contain a wide array of skin-healthy nutrients, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, all needed for healthy skin. These are more bountiful in those filling their plates with more veggies in place of other foods.

“Eating a healthy, mostly plant-based diet will keep you looking good from the inside and your skin will thank you for it,” says skincare expert Nichola Joss.

Get the glow!

Many people who have turned vegan talk about getting a real glow to their skin after a couple months of their new diet. And science has backed up their claims. Researchers from University of St. Andrews in Scotland found after six weeks of increasing their daily servings of fruits and vegetables, participants showed changes to their skin usually associated with healthy radiance.

Why vegetables are good for anti-ageing

Researchers have discovered that the majority of the antioxidants which neutralise free radicals found to accelerate ageing come from plants. Fruit and vegetables are abundant in vitamins C and E which are powerful antioxidants credited for destroying free radicals. By doing so they slow the formation of wrinkles. At the same time the antioxidants in plants reduce inflammation in the body and help collagen generation – this makes the skin more elastic and slows down the ageing process.

Any plants rich in vitamins A, C, and E will make the biggest difference to your skin and anti-ageing. 

Vitamin A helps to slow ageing, reduce wrinkles, protect from the sun and heal wounds while vitamin C rejuvenates skin and improves collagen to tighten skin. Vitamin E helps fight ageing free radical damage and also damage from the sun.

A plant-based diet can also increase blood flow around the body thanks to the fact it’s more likely to open up arteries by dissolving plaque. An increased blood flow benefits the skin by getting key nutrients to your skin, keeping it healthy and looking younger and plumper as a result.

Cut down on dairy if you’re prone to spots

There has long been debate about how much dairy effects skin quality and the likelihood of getting spot. As spots are often inflammatory in nature, and cow’s milk can cause inflammation, too, it’s no wonder they have been linked. It’s also been found that the hormones often found in milk can react with the testosterone in your own body. This increases the production of sebum in your skin, the oily substance that clogs your pores. If you switch cow’s milk for a plant milk like almond, oat or coconut milk you could find your breakouts are reduced or even stop altogether.  Nuts, tofu and beans are good sources of zinc which helps treat spots and reduce inflammation so switching cow’s milk for the right plant milk can make a difference on two levels.

Which are the best plant-based foods for skin?

There are some vegetables which are particularly good for your skin. Fatty acid rich plant foods like avocado, nuts and seeds not only help fight inflammation but also help to hydrate your skin.

Dark Leafy Greens such as kale, spring greens and Swiss chard are rich in antioxidants, enzymes, vitamins, minerals and nutrients which fight free radicals and keep your skin beautifully youthful. Foods high in zinc, including pumpkin seeds, kidney beans and spinach are great if you have problem skin.

Zinc helps to prevent clogged pores by keeping the pores open and has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. And carotene rich foods like tomatoes, carrots and sweet potatoes help improve your skin as it converts to an active form of vitamin A called retinol, in our bodies. This aids wound healing and skin cell turnover for healthy, glowing skin and also strengthens tissue and helps with skin renewal.

If you enjoyed this you could try this pumpkin and turmeric soup or this broccoli and kale one using bone broth as a base.

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