We all want beautiful skin, but there is so much confusing
information available to us. Let’s begin with some basic nutrition
education for healthy skin:
Free Radicals and Antioxidants
A free radical is an unpaired electron that is highly reactive
and can cause tissue damage at a cellular level, accelerating the
progression of cancer, heart disease and age-related diseases such
as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Free radicals are a natural
byproduct of oxygen metabolism, and most are either recycled or
excreted. Exercise creates free radicals as does sunlight,
pollution, smoking and even digestion. Normal processes in the body
eliminate free radicals but if you’ve had a lot of activity that
promotes free radicals, your body may not be able to eliminate all
of them. Antioxidants quench free radicals by donating their own
electrons to them and, simply put, the chain reaction of oxidation
is broken. The best way to ensure adequate intake of the
antioxidant nutrients is through a balanced diet consisting of 5-9
servings of vegetables and fruit per day, while avoiding foods that
can increase free radical activity such as processed and refined
foods and ‘bad’ fats.
The following foods are some of the highest in antioxidants:
beans (small red, pinto, red kidney and black beans), blueberries,
cranberries, artichokes, blackberries, dried prunes, raspberries,
strawberries, apples, pecans, potatoes.
Vitamin A
Components of certain foods are naturally supportive of healthy
skin such as vitamin A, which is also known as retinol. Although
vitamin A is found only in foods of animal origin such as calf’s
liver and yogurt, some fruits and vegetables contain compounds
called cartenoids that can be converted into vitamin A by your
body. Carotenoids are plant pigments, responsible for the red,
orange, and yellow color of fruits and vegetables. Here are some
good choices of vitamin A rich foods: calf’s liver, yogurt
(preferably plain yogurt that has no added sugar), raw carrots,
spinach, sweet potatoes (leave the skin on for added dietary
fiber), leafy greens such as kale, turnip greens, chard and collard
Note: Remember that much of vitamin A can be lost when it’s
heated, so eat your fruits and veggies raw when possible. Avoid
frying; steam, bake and broil when you can.
Vitamin C
Vitamin C helps maintain the collagen in our skin, keeping it
firm. Vitamin C also improves iron absorption and increases the
effectiveness of vitamin E. Good sources of foods high in vitamin C
are: papaya, mangos, peppers (red, yellow and orange), broccoli,
Brussels sprouts, cantaloupe, oranges, cauliflower, tomatoes,
potatoes, kiwis.
Vitamin E
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that decelerates the aging
of skin cells, is known for its ability to diminish the appearance
of scars, and protects the skin from ultra violet (UV) radiation.
Vitamin E is even good for our immune systems. Good sources of
vitamin E are: sunflower seeds, almonds, olives, spinach, papaya,
chard and other leafy greens, blueberries, wheat germ and oil,
Selenium is a trace mineral required in only small amounts
(large amounts can be toxic) but is essential to good health and
healthy skin. Selenium is incorporated into proteins to make
selenoproteins, which are important antioxidants, helping to
prevent cellular damage from free radicals. Foods high in selenium
are: Brazil nuts, oysters, tuna, beef, cod, turkey, eggs, cottage
cheese, black walnuts, brown rice, brewer’s yeast, wheat germ.
Zinc helps maintain the integrity of skin and mucosal membranes.
Men need more zinc than women, as concentrations of zinc are very
high in the prostate gland and semen. Foods high in zinc are:
oysters, beef shanks, crab, pumpkin seeds, fortified breakfast
cereals, pumpkin seeds, garbanzo beans, yogurt, turkey.
Note: Techniques to increase zinc bioavailability, especially
important for vegetarians, include soaking beans, grains, and seeds
in water for several hours, then allowing them to sprout before
eating raw or cooking.
Healthy fats
It is imperative that you consume enough essential fatty acids
(EFA), as your body does not make them. Omega-3 fatty acids help
reduce the body’s production of inflammatory compounds involved in
the aging process that affect how healthy the skin looks and feels.
Foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids are: salmon and other cold-water
fish, flax seeds and oil, safflower oil, walnuts, sardines,
fortified eggs, soy.
Note: Look for oil labeled cold pressed, expeller processed, or
extra virgin as they are less processed.
Your body is 70 to 80 percent water, and if you are not drinking
enough, your cells don’t regenerate properly and remove waste,
resulting in a buildup of impurities. Drinking ample water allows
all of your organs to function properly, affecting the health of
your skin.
Drink 8 glasses a day! Herb tea with no caffeine can substitute
for water.
Don’t forget to dry brush your skin, which helps to remove dead
skin cells and improve circulation. With proper nutrition, which
begins with simple health education, glowing skin can be yours!
Patty’s passion is assisting you to obtain or

your good health. Patty has her master’s degree in 
holistic nutrition and is a certified natural chef.
Patty James, Vital Health Educator and Nutrition

Founder of the first certified organic cooking

and nutrition center in the country.
[email protected].

707-829-6707 • P.O. Box 1474, Sebastopol, CA 95473.

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