Veganism is on the increase as more and more people embrace it. Their reasons range from animal rights, environmental benefits, and the health benefits of a plant-based diet. Furthermore, nutrition research continues to show how some minimally processed plant-based foods promote skin health thanks to their unique phytochemical composition.
As the largest organ, the skin’s role is to protect the body from external factors like pollution, bacteria, viruses, and chemical substances. However, several factors can impact skin health. Some of these are related to aging, hormonal changes, and specific conditions. On the other hand, lifestyle factors like diet, hydration, sleep, stress, exercise, and smoking, can also affect skin health.
Your skin can benefit from what you put on it, but it’s also essential to know the effect of different foods on your skin.
What effects to expect on your skin from different foods?
Excessive sugar consumption – Large amounts of refined sugar or artificial sweeteners may lead to increased inflammation, leading to a halt of collagen and elastin production. Without collagen and elastin, the skin is weaker and less elastic.
Refined sugar and trans fats consumption – Studies show a correlation between high refined sugar and trans fat consumption with raised free radicals and excess glucose in the skin, which can lead to inflammation and affect skin structure.
Excessive caffeine consumption – Caffeine is found in beverages like energy drinks and coffee. Excessive intake increases the primary stress hormone in the body, cortisol, which may increase acne breakouts in those with more sensitive skin.
Vegan Foods that Promote a Clear and Glowing Complexion
Following a vegan diet can help promote a clear and glowing complexion. First, however, you must include several daily nutrients that can benefit and protect the skin’s structure.
Remember that a vegan diet can also be unhealthy if you replace saturated fats with lots of French fries. Additionally, you must ensure you replace meat proteins with enough plant-based ones to increase your Vitamin B12 intake.
These are the essential nutrients to include in your foods on a vegan diet:
1. Omega-3 and Skin Health
Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid that forms an integral component of cell membranes. Its role is to keep the cells functioning well, and it helps to keep the skin elastic and reduces levels of inflammation. Furthermore, omega-3 helps protect the skin against sun damage.
Including omega-3 in your diet helps reduce dryness, maintains skin elasticity, decreases skin inflammations like acne, eczema, and psoriasis, and helps the skin look plumper and smoother.
Foods with high levels of omega-3 include chia, flax seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts, algae, leafy greens, vegetable oils, and Brussels sprouts.
Sun exposure and pollution are two environmental factors that wreak havoc on the skin. Eating antioxidant-rich foods can help protect the skin from the unstable molecules known as free radicals that help speed up the signs of aging by causing fine lines, wrinkles, and age spots.
Foods rich in antioxidants include berries, fruits, green leafy vegetables, pumpkin, and cocoa. Cocoa improves the blood flow to the skin and promotes cell renewal and healing, especially from sun damage. Cocoa also contains other skin-protecting nutrients like copper, magnesium, zinc, and vitamins C and E.
Selenium, found in Brazil nuts, mushrooms, and brown rice, is a powerful antioxidant mineral that helps protect the skin from UV ray damage.
3. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is the most potent antioxidant that protects from free radicals and reduces the signs of pigmentation. However, vitamin C is required to produce collagen with proline and lysine, two critical amino acids. Therefore, include fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C in your daily meals, including strawberries, bell peppers, oranges, kiwi, papaya, tomatoes, and broccoli.
4. Vitamin E
Vitamin E is a primary antioxidant the skin requires to protect it from UV rays and environmental damage. Together with vitamin C, vitamin E helps to stimulate the formation of collagen production. Include almonds, avocado, sunflower seeds, spinach, dark leafy greens, wheat germ, and sweet potatoes in your vegan diet to ensure you get enough vitamin E.
5. Vitamin A and Carotenoid
Vitamin A has several beneficial effects on the skin. Firstly, it slows down skin-cell turnover and increases collagen deposits. Therefore, it slows the aging process. However, even though it slows down collagen and elastin breakdown, it increases cellular structure repair and wound healing.
Additionally, vitamin A can help diminish the appearance of pigmentation and acne because carotenoid-rich foods get converted into active vitamin A, known as retinol, which helps promote a clear complexion.
Foods containing vitamin A and guaranteeing a retinol boost include carrots, mango, squash, pumpkin, apricot, peach, sweet potato, and tomato.
6. Plant-based Protein
Proteins play an essential role in tissue repair and construction. All body cells, including skin cells, require protein for their health. Vegans often worry about maintaining their correct intake of the main structural proteins needed to keep the different combinations of amino acids like collagen, elastin, and keratin required for the hair, nails, and skin.
Vegan foods that will help you maintain your protein intake include whole grains, legumes, tofu, nuts, seeds, algae, and plenty of green leafy vegetables. It’s easy to meet your body’s daily protein needs with these foods, but you can supplement with vitamin B12 if required.
Besides applying copper peptides to the skin for their benefits, include them in your diet to help the skin look more hydrated and plumper. That’s because copper peptides can nourish and replenish the skin by encouraging collagen production. They also help protect against environmental damage.
For their valuable copper content, incorporate cashews, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, tempeh, soya beans, lentils, chickpeas, leafy greens, walnuts, and lentils into your diet.
A trace element, silica, is required for collagen formation. It can help delay the aging process because it regenerates skin tissues. Silica also helps bind water molecules to the skin cells, helping with hydration, helping to slow down the aging process. Concentrations of silica decrease with age, so include it in your diet to maintain its healthy levels. Foods that boost silica intake include bananas, brown rice, oats, raisins, green beans, and wheat.
Zinc plays a significant role in membrane and protein structure. It promotes healing and helps transport vitamin A to cells. Additionally, zinc helps maintain collagen structure, and it encourages cell renewal. Get your daily zinc intake from whole grains, cocoa, beans, legumes, green beans, nutritional yeast, miso, and broccoli.
A vegan diet can contain enough nutrients to help promote a healthy, clear, glowing complexion. Give your skin the required foods while ensuring you maintain your hydration levels by drinking water and herbal teas. With some planning, a vegan diet can provide you with the ultimate skincare from within.
What are the best vegan sources of collagen?
Plant-based foods that help with collagen production include fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C, such as kale, bell peppers, oranges, kiwis, and strawberries. Additionally, food sources containing antioxidants like blueberries, tomatoes, turmeric, garlic, and green tea can promote collagen synthesis.
Are there any vegan supplements to improve skin health?
Yes! Vitamin A is found in carotenoids and helps promote a clear complexion; silica helps maintain healthy levels of collagen; vitamin E helps stimulate collagen production; zinc encourages cell renewal; and copper peptides nourish the skin from within. Vegan supplements made from these vitamins and minerals can be taken to support skin health
What are some other benefits of a vegan diet for skin health?
A vegan diet is naturally high in antioxidants which can help protect from environmental damage and reduce the risk of premature aging. Additionally, vegan diets tend to be lower in saturated fat and higher in fiber, which helps to improve overall gut health associated with healthy skin. A vegan diet is also beneficial as it excludes animal products known to cause inflammation in the body, resulting in healthier-looking skin.
How can I get enough protein on a vegan diet?
Whole grains, legumes, tofu, nuts, seeds, algae, and plenty of green leafy vegetables are excellent protein sources for vegans. Supplementing with vitamin B12 is also recommended to ensure adequate intake. Additionally, incorporating foods like cashews, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, tempeh, and lentils into your diet can help you meet your daily needs.