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Summer is finally here and it’s time to focus on skin health and all the ways to nourish that sun-kissed glow!

While there are plenty of products and treatments dedicated to hydrating our skin on the outside — what about hydrating the skin from the inside so that you have that glow year-round? 

It’s time to explore some of our favourite nutrients that nature bestows in abundance. These are not only healthy for you but hydrate your skin, leaving it plump, moisturized, better able to manage skin irritations or inflammation and help to keep fine lines away.

Water

Let’s start with the basics. Are you drinking enough water? Think around two litres of water a day, and if you’re working out and getting a good sweat on, you’ll need to bump that water intake by a few glasses. 

Water is one of the essential macronutrients necessary not only for our health. Since our bodies are made up of about 70% water, it is also crucial for your skin. Your skin is the largest organ of elimination and needs plenty of water to keep it nourished, clear, and hydrated, aside from helping your body detox itself.  

Water also helps regulate and control the skin’s natural pH balance — oxygenating, hydrating and revitalizing it. Without sufficient water intake, the body cannot get rid of harmful toxins that get trapped beneath the skin’s surface which causes harmful bacteria to build up and the complexion to deteriorate. 

The best quality water to drink is spring water or filtered water, with a suitable pH of about 8. Summer is also a fantastic time to enjoy water-rich fruits and vegetables such as cucumbers, watermelon, celery, watercress, lettuce, peaches, zucchini and tomatoes – especially locally grown or harvested from your garden!

Healthy Fats

Our skin loves fat! In fact, our skin thrives on healthy fats to keep it moisturized, supple, less inflamed, and for healing. There are various healthy fats that play a role in skin hydration. For example, omega-3 essential fatty acids from chia seeds, flaxseeds, hemp seeds, walnuts, eggs and wild salmon. Small fish such as sardines and anchovies also have these fats and they all help reduce skin inflammation and dryness.

That’s because omega-3 fats appear to improve skin barrier function, sealing in moisture and keeping out irritants. In addition, most of these foods are also rich in vitamin E and zinc, which promote a healthy complexion and wound healing.

Vitamin C

Have you noticed how skincare products with vitamin C (citrus fruits) have been trending for a while now? Well, there is a good reason for that.

Foods rich in vitamin C include strawberries, kiwis, oranges, bell peppers, lemons, limes, grapefruit, kale, spinach, raspberries, broccoli, mint and cauliflower, among many more.  When you eat these foods regularly, you give your skin the ability to retain moisture better, thereby supporting skin hydration. Vitamin C is also known to naturally stimulate collagen synthesis, maintaining skin elasticity and youthful appearance.

Fruits such as strawberries and raspberries are also rich in ellagic acid, a powerful antioxidant that helps prevent cellular changes. Hydration is, moreover, vital to help prevent signs of ageing like fine lines, sun damage and hyperpigmentation.

Collagen

By now, most of us have fallen in love with collagen.

Collagen is a protein that helps to maintain the structure of the skin. When the skin is hydrated, collagen is more bioavailable to improve elasticity, skin regeneration, moisture retention and prevent fine lines. 

We are born with tons of collagen; however, we lose our collagen stores as we age. And water is about 60% of collagen’s weight; it’s evident how vital the relationship between water and collagen is. Therefore, keeping adequately hydrated should be part of everyone’s anti-ageing skincare routine.  

To produce collagen, your body needs a combination of macro and micronutrients, including proline, glycine, vitamin C, silica, zinc and copper. Help your body produce more collagen by eating lentils, eggs, chicken, gelatin, sesame seeds, raw cacao, asparagus, mushrooms, beef, lamb, nuts, seeds and the vitamin C foods mentioned above. Alternatively, you can use a good-quality collagen supplement.

To keep skin hydrated from the inside out, be sure to drink at least eight glasses of water per day. Don’t stop there! 

Eat foods that are abundant in omega-3 fats, vitamin C and proteins which aid collagen production. With hydration in your diet from all these sources, your skin will reward you with a healthy summer glow!

Marilia Pereira, CNP, RNCP, ROHP, CNE is a registered holistic nutritionist, culinary nutrition expert and clinic iridologist with a private nutrition and wellness practice, Fleurish Holistic Nutrition & Lifestyle, located in uptown Waterloo, Ontario.

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