You Are What You Eat (Part 2)

skin and food


Did you know the skin is the largest organ in the body? It is covered with it’s own ecosystem of yeast and bacteria and it’s layers are made up of the food you eat. Need convincing? Let’s break it down!

What protects you from oxidation? Antioxidants from vegetables and fruit!


What happens if you lack antioxidants?  Ever noticed what happens to an apple left out in the sun? The skin is bombarded with stress from UV rays, toxins, chemicals, injury, germs, inflammation and immune attacks. The phytonutrients in the apple are what keeps it from decaying rapidly. We too need to eat these powerful anti-oxidants from colorful fruits and vegetables to block free radical oxidation of our skin. Think of your vegetables as a ‘natural multi-vitamin’ for your skin. Without them, the skin oxidizes, turns hard, leathery, brown and mutations in the DNA can lead to skin cancer.

What to eat? Your leafy greens and highly colored vegetables like carrots, squash, oranges, spinach, strawberries, broccoli and pumpkin are loaded with beta-carotene, Vitamin A, C, E and K. These powerful antioxidants protect the skin from free radical damage and aging. Vitamin C helps build collagen, helps with skin healing and protection from oxidative stress. Vitamin E from nuts and seeds acts as a natural sunscreen. It absorbs harmful UV light from the sun when applied to the skin. Niacinamide, a form of Vitamin B3 has been clinically shown to decrease skin cancer risk.

What to cut out? Foods that increase oxidative stress to the body include oily, fried foods in vegetable, soy, corn, canola oils like french fries, fast food, donuts, fried pastries, fried fish and meats. Add to this soda and junk food loaded with sugar, preservatives, dyes, colors.

What makes your skin thick, moist and plump? Sugar and Proteins!

What happens if you lose proteins and sugar? Breakdown of key proteins in the mattress of the skin, collagen and elastin, lead to saggy, crepe-like skin with no recoil. A natural sugar, hyaluronic acid, maintains moisture in your skin. When this sugar is depleted, the skin is dry and thin.

What do I eat?  Vitamin C, amino acids like proline and lysine are essential in building new collagen. Fruits and vegetables with yellow, orange, red colors are rich in Vitamin C. Egg whites and wheat germ are good sources of proline, whereas all lean meats, fish, dairy products and nuts are good sources of lysine. Also, to help slow down the breakdown of collagen and hyaluronic acid, increase your consumption of Vitamin A (retinoids) and Alpha lipoic acid found in organ meats, spinach, broccoli and yeast extract.

What do I cut out? Degradation of collagen, elastin, fibrin, destruction of fibroblasts and hyaluronic acid is caused by oxidative stress from pollution, UV radiation, tobacco, heat exposure, poor sleep, increased stress and poor eating habits. Invest in your health by using good sun protection, healthy organic foods, quit smoking and spend time in nature away from urban areas when possible.

What makes your skin Water Proof? FATS!

Good fats play a critical role in the structure and water-proofing of the SKIN.

What happens if the fat breaks down? It leads to thinning, dehydration, eczema, wrinkles and dull skin. Eating the right foods with Omega 3, 6, 9 fats and ceramides can help provide the building blocks for your fortress, making younger, healthy, beautiful looking skin.

What to eat? Essential fatty acids are found in foods like wild caught fresh water fish, salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, herring, omega 3 eggs, almonds, walnuts, seeds, olive, sunflower and safflower, coconut and avocado oils . Ceramides which are frequently deficient in eczema and wrinkled skin, are found in wheat germ, brown rice and vegetables like spinach and beets.

What to cut out? Bad fats like trans-fats in frosting, cakes, cookies, biscuits, breakfast sandwiches, crackers, donuts, margarine, fried fast food and frozen pizza. These fats are inflammatory and may lead to rapid aging, eczema, psoriasis and other inflammatory conditions.

Life is a ongoing cycle of growth and destruction, cells constantly evolving based on its contact with the environment. Your body is an intricate web of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, minerals, vitamins and energy. To restore, repair and protect your skin, add foods that serve you. Using nutrition to improve function, longevity and resiliency is the path to restoring vitality and living a healthy life.


The light in me, bows to the light in you~ Namaste
Dr. Patel was named one of the TOP DOCS in Phoenix Magazine 2009, 2016, Healthcare Provider of the Year 2017 by the Fountain Hills Chamber of Commerce and Internist of the Year 2011 by the American College of Physicians Arizona Chapter. She is uniquely trained, board-certified and practices both Pediatrics and Internal Medicine in Fountain Hills, Arizona. She is additionally fellowship trained and board certified in Integrative Medicine.
She has a passion for teaching medicine and acts as a preceptor for both medical residents and providers in training. Dr. Patel has a special interest in Integrative Medicine, Women’s health, Pediatric & Adolescent care, Nutrition and Medical Cosmetics.

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