If you’ve read my book, The Skin Whisperer, then you know I share a lot more than just 6 evidence based ways to nourish your skin from the inside out. But I know that you might not have the time to dig through all the pages if you’re just looking to get the low-down on some of the most potent and supportive supplements and habits that can get your skin glowing fast AND for the long term. So I want to share some of them here so you can start implementing some of these starting today!
1. Go all in on antioxidants
Antioxidants are the antidote to free radicals in the body. Free radical damage—caused by sun, air pollution, stress, or food—is a major contributor to premature aging, dark spots, wrinkles, and sagging skin. Here are a few to add to your regimen:
Astaxanthin is a carotenoid and comes from microalgae in the Arctic marine environment. Considered to be the most potent carotenoid, it is 10 times as potent as beta-carotene and 100 times stronger than vitamin E in its anti-inflammatory capabilities. It has been shown to protect against UVA-induced DNA damage. Salmon, crab, lobster and shrimp get their red color from eating an astaxanthin-rich algae diet.
Vitamins E and C are abundant in food, so filling your plate is the optimal way to get your supply. That said, I recommend using these antioxidants topically on your skin every day to improve the tone and texture of your skin. This way you can ensure both your inside and outside are getting the nourishment you need. These antioxidants help prevent free radicals from forming during UV exposure, improve the skin’s protective barrier, and have anti-inflammatory effects. Vitamin C plays an important role in the synthesis of collagen and elastin, and vitamin E plays a role in preventing collagen breakdown.
Niacinamide, AKA nicotinamide, in both its oral and topical forms, is a type of vitamin B3 and has proven to have beneficial effects in acne, rosacea, atopic dermatitis and now skin cancer. When UV hits the skin, it can suppress the immune system and damage DNA. When DNA damage exceeds our skin’s ability to repair it, premature skin aging and skin cancers develop. By recharging the skin’s energy supplies when they are depleted from making these repairs, nicotinamide not only boosts the immune system’s ability to repair DNA, but also reduces UV-induced immunosuppression. Several studies by Damian and colleagues have shown that 500 mg of nicotinamide taken twice daily reduces the rate of new skin pre-cancers (actinic keratosis), basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas by 23% in patients with a previous history of NMSC.
Polypodium leucotomas (PL) is derived from a tropical fern grown in Central and South America, and is a key ingredient in several oral dietary supplements currently on the market. PL offers sun protective benefits as an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory, chemoprotective and immunomodulatory effects. The antioxidant activity of PL is primarily driven by its rich source of phenolic acids, including caffeic acid and ferulic acid. As an antioxidant, PL boosts the ability of our body’s own antioxidant systems to help prevent sunburn, neutralize free radicals, inhibit DNA damage and UV-induced inflammation, and upregulate a molecule to suppress tumor formation. A recent study showed that a dose of 240 mg taken twice daily suppressed sunburn and extended the time outdoors before tanning occurred in the skin. These findings suggest that PL offers the potential to be an excellent adjunct to other sun protective measures.
2. Dampen the flame on inflammation
Inflammation is at the root of all chronic health issues and issues with your skin are no exception including premature aging and skin conditions like acne and eczema. While everyone’s triggers for fueling the fire of inflammation are going to vary, there are a few common culprits like alcohol, foods with a high-glycemic index, sugars, and dairy that may be worth minimizing or eliminating to help brighten your skin’s glow.
3. Make nice with your microbiome
The research on the body’s microbiomes is growing and highlighting the importance of maintaining diversity and balance of the resident populations in our mucosal surfaces including our mouths and genitalia, skin and gut.
When it comes to nourishing your skin microbiome, using products that maintain the naturally acidic nature of the skin surface is key, but it’s also important to focus on your gut microbiome as well. There’s something called the gut-skin axis which plays an important role in our skin health: Just like your skin, your gut has a permeability barrier that serves as a line of defense for the rest of the body. When the bacteria in your gut is out of balance, it leads to what is known as a leaky gut, which allows particles to “leak” out of the gut lining and trigger the immune system to produce an inflammatory response in the skin in predisposed individuals.
4. Add adaptogens
Adaptogens are medicinal plants that help support your body’s ability to adapt to stress. Their mechanism of action is associated with helping to regulate stress hormones triggered by stimulation of your hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. Studies have shown adaptogens provide beneficial effects against such conditions including chronic inflammation, atherosclerosis, neurodegenerative cognitive impairment, metabolic disorders, cancer, and other aging-related diseases. There’s a host of adaptogens being incorporated in supplements, food and skincare including rhodiola. Rhodiola has been shown to reduce oxidative damage that can lead to accelerated aging.
5. High Five Hydration
One of the best ways to boost skin health is staying well hydrated. Water is critical for all bodily functions and when your hydration status is low, you betcha it’s going to show up on your skin. In fact, this study found that drinking 9.5 cups of water a day for four weeks actually increased the skin’s density and thickness.
6. Healthy Fats are Your Friends
Incorporating healthy fats like olive oil, avocado and food sources offering the right balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are essential for skin health.Extra virgin olive oil is a mono-unsaturated fat and a key component of the Mediterranean diet. Olive oil is rich in at least 30 phenolic acid antioxidants including squalene and oleic acid, which have been shown to protect against skin cancer and aging by inhibiting oxidative stress. Essential fatty acids including omega-3 improve skin barrier function, inhibit UV-induced inflammation and hyperpigmentation, minimize dry skin and itch triggered by dermatitis, and speed up skin wound healing.
The saying, “you are what you eat” isn’t just an old adage, it can and does impact the appearance and health of your skin. Now with recent discoveries regarding the gut microbiome we also know that it’s not just what you eat, but what your microbiome eats, processes and produces that can influence your health as well. So if you are looking for that healthy glow, nourishing yourself from the inside out the place to begin.