Skin reflects overall health, so the foods that benefit your health are likely to be good for your skin, too. The natural glow and colour you see in radiant skin is due to a combination of factors: red tones come from haemoglobin in the blood; brown shades from melanin that melanocytes produce in the epidermis (the outer layer of the skin); and orange and yellow tints from carotenoids in subcutaneous fat, which lies just under the skin.
Orange-coloured FoodsCarotenoids are red, orange and yellow fat-soluble antioxidants that offer natural sun protection. The most important source of carotenoids is betacarotene, which has the added benefit of being able to convert into vitamin A—essential for healthy skin, hair and eyes.
Betacarotene is present in orange-coloured foods, such as carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, apricots, mangoes and oranges; you can also find it in green leafy vegetables, including kale and spinach. These types of foods have a starring role in the creation of healthy skin.
Dunaliella salinaThe richest natural source of betacarotene is the marine phytoplankton Dunaliella salina, which produces massive amounts of it in response to the stress of surviving high-salt environments. You can take Dunaliella salina as an organically grown wholefood supplement (Algotene), with 2 to 3 g a day providing limited sun protection and acting as a source of vitamin A.
WaterIn addition to carotenoid-rich yellow and orange fruits and vegetables, your body needs water to keep skin hydrated and help eliminate toxins.
Dark chocolateA superhero in promoting a healthy glow. Recent research suggests that long-term consumption of dark chocolate may increase blood flow to the skin, improving its hydration and elasticity, reducing roughness and scaliness, and again enhancing natural sun protection.
By Dr Marc Cohen, professor of complementary medicine at Melbourne's RMIT University.