Woman or man, everyone wants great skin. It’s a much-treasured asset, so it’s no wonder that most of the commercials we see on TV are focused on skincare. But before we get into how to have gorgeous skin, we should learn what skin actually is. Skin is composed of seven layers of cells growing from inside out. So the surface skin is actually the oldest layer. Skin cells are nourished by small blood vessels in the body. There are sweat glands to cool the body, glands to coat the skin with a film of oil so it doesn’t dry out, and a defence system against bacteria.
The glow on your skin is due to its clarity, the layer of oil on its surface, its turgor or level of hydration and the health of the skin cells. The tautness of your skin depends on the state of its connective tissue fibres, the elasticity and strength of the underlying facial muscle cells and the elasticity of the skin cells themselves.
Skin is also controlled by hormones – when they are balanced, your skin will look soft, youthful and supple. If they are out of balance, your skin could turn dry, flaky and wrinkly. If your testosterone levels have gone awry, you may develop acne and hair on the chin. And if your liver is unhealthy, your skin will become dull and develop pigmentation.
So if you want gorgeous skin, take care of the following factors.
Essential fatty acids: These are not manufactured by the body and so need to be ingested from food sources. Essential fatty acids give skin its texture and glow, and help to rejuvenate it.
For great skin, avoid refined vegetable oils and transfats (found in commercial bakery and ready-to-eat products). Instead, use cold-pressed oils like olive oil. White butter is fine if it is not cooked. Eat a small quantity of nuts and oil seeds because they provide essential fatty acids like omega 3 and omega 6. In summer, eat almonds, flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds; in winter, eat walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts and chilgoza.
Vitamins: Vitamin A, found in papaya and carrots, is directly responsible for skin regeneration. Eat it in its natural form to avoid an overdose.
B vitamins (ranging from 1 to 12) are found in fruits, salads and green vegetables. To get the full range, eat three different kinds of fruits a day. The thumb rule: One citrus fruit, one yellow or red fruit, and one fruit like banana, apple, pear or avocado.
Citrus fruits are a good source of vitamin C. These work as antioxidants and make the skin younger. Vitamin E is mostly found in association with oils. Eat nuts, seeds and fish.
Minerals: Zinc, selenium and chromium are very important. Zinc is good for skin growth as well as hormones and reproduction. Many skin ointments have zinc as an ingredient. Chromium is important for digestion. If there is a problem in digestion, it is difficult for the body to absorb nutrients from food. Most minerals are found in whole grains and seeds.
Protein: The skin is made of proteins, so if you have a protein deficiency, your skin will get loose and saggy. For vegetarians, the best sources of proteins are sprouts, soya, tofu, nuts and peanuts, lentils and pulses and paneer. For non-vegetarians, eggs and fish are better than heavier meats, as those may not suit the skin.
The digestive and elimination systems consisting of the intestine, liver and kidneys need to be healthy to keep your skin fresh. That’s because if you have a large amount of toxins circulating in your blood, they will try to find their way out through your skin, making it acidic and ill. To keep the digestive system in good shape, do a detox once a month. A detox diet contains vegetable juices like cucumber, celery, aloe vera, squash vegetables, rock salt, lemon juice, wheat grass juice, alfa alfa juice, lemon herbal infusions and spirulina juice.
A daily skincare routine is essential. You can use anti skin damage packs or nutritive packs and exfoliate your skin gently. Avoid touching or scratching your skin.
Exercise is responsible for the glow on your cheeks. It also encourages sweating, so your skin does not become acidic. Aerobics, dance and pranayam are wonderful for the skin.