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- Linus Pauling Institute: Essential Fatty Acids
- National Institue of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases: Healthy Skin Matters
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Your skin isn't just the largest organ in your body, it's three thin layers of a semi-permeable covering that protects your other organs and manages the passage of substances into and out of your blood. Despite the apparent durability of your skin, it's surprisingly susceptible to damage, both from within and from the environment. Your body uses nutrients from the foods and beverages you consume to repair skin cells, replace damaged cells and maintain cell integrity. Certain foods might provide particular health benefits that can protect your skin and maximize its elasticity.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are rich sources of antioxidants such as vitamin C, which draw free-radicals out of your body, decreasing or preventing their damaging effects. Dr. Lawrence Gibson of the Mayo Clinic explains that while all fruits and vegetables are healthy choices, certain ones are particularly high in antioxidants that can protect your skin, including blueberries, green leafy vegetables, and yellow- or orange-colored fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are also a good source of water, which also helps maintain skin health and elasticity. Consume a variety of fruits and vegetables to round out a variety of nutrients from different sources.
Nuts, Beans and Legumes
Nuts, beans and legumes are plant sources of proteins that your body uses to replace dead skin cells. Nuts such as almonds and walnuts also contain vitamin E, a fat-soluble nutrient that protects your skin from the damaging effects of the sun. Vitamin E, according to the University of California Riverside, can decrease sagging and wrinkling of your skin that indicates a loss of elasticity due to aging. Nuts also provide biotin, a B vitamin that is responsible for the production of your skin cells. Beans, peas and legumes contain minerals such as copper, which improve the elasticity of your skin by supporting its structure.
Foods such as salmon, mackerel, flaxseeds and walnuts are sources of essential fatty acids, including omega-3 fatty acids 1. These fats, which cannot be manufactured by your body, are necessary for the production of the oils that keep your skin lubricated, soft and pliable. The Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University adds that essential fatty acids help provide structure for cell membranes and help maintain the flexibility of your skin 1. A deficiency of essential fatty acids can lead to scaly, dry, inflamed skin that has impaired elasticity 1.
As much as 65 percent of your body is made of water, which isn't considered a food, but is an essential nutrient. Water also helps maintain the elasticity of your skin. A common sign of dehydration, explains Bastyr University, is lacks of elasticity of your skin. If you skin doesn't bounce back when gently pinched, you probably need to drink more water to plump up your skin cells. East Carolina University explains that adult males ages 19 to 50 should consume a minimum of 13 8-ounce cups of water daily. For females in the same age group, the minimum amount is nine cups of water.
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