We’ve all heard the saying, “you are what you eat,” and never has that been truer than when it comes to the health of our brains. In our previous articles, we’ve discussed superfoods that benefit your skin. Now, let’s look at how the right foods can help our brains. Scientists are learning more every year about the correlation between what we eat and how our brains function, but did you know that some of the best foods for brain health are also the best foods for glowing skin?
How Stress Influences Our Health & Wellbeing
Our skin and our brain are similar in many respects. They are both important organs, and both respond negatively to stress. When our bodies experience stress in any form, our bodies release inflammatory cytokines. Cytokines are regulators of our body’s response to infection, immune compromises, inflammation and trauma, and some types like these pro-inflammatory cytokines can make the disease or condition worse, creating a cycle of stress and inflammation.
Stress comes from many areas of our lives, as anyone who works a 9 to 5 job can attest. It may come from work, family, or illness. All of these conditions have one thing in common: they are out of our control. When our brain sees that we are out of control, it triggers a stress response throughout our nervous system. Stress is a major contributor to inflammation in the body. Some stress is normal (and healthy), but continual stress can take a toll!
Chronic inflammation is a constant cycle of stress and inflammation and has been linked to autoimmune disease. So how is what we eat related to optimal or not-so-optimal brain function?
Most inflammation in our bodies begins in the gut. Our digestive system keeps our body’s inflammation levels in check. Hormones that it produces enter our brains and influence how our brain processes information. You can see why it’s important to find the best foods for your brain’s optimal health!
A healthy brain is able to stay focused, recognizes how to process information, learns new information, and remains healthy without succumbing to neurological disease.
In much the same way, our skin is also affected by what we eat and what nutrients are absorbed into our bodies. It can also become congested, dull, or unhealthy if we constantly are under stress, are eating the wrong foods, or are ill. If you have ever looked at your skin after a lengthy illness, you will understand how dull and lifeless your skin can look. Lying in bed, eating “sick foods” like crackers can quickly make your skin break out and become blotchy or dry.
What Food Can We Eat for Glowing Skin?
You may be interested to discover that most of the good foods that we have heard about, like green leafy vegetables, broccoli, and colorful vegetables, can not only make your skin glow but also help your brain function remain healthy and young. Let’s look at some of the star performers when it comes to brain and skin health.
Green Tea — We use green tea extract in our Awaken Revitalizing Eye Serum because it is rich in caffeine, a powerful antioxidant. It also contains an antioxidant called EGCG that fights DNA damage from UV rays to help prevent skin cancer. Green tea also contains L-theanine, an amino acid that helps reduce anxiety in the brain and helps boost brain function and memory. Green tea contains polyphenols, naturally occurring compounds found in plant sources that have antioxidant properties. So, basically, your cup of green tea helps to calm your stomach, feed your brain, and your skin, all at the same time!
Beets — Beetroot, or “beets,” are wonderful root vegetables that are often pickled or roasted, and beets have numerous benefits for skin health. Any vegetable that is dark and rich in color is rich in nutrients, and beets are packed with antioxidants as well as vitamins. Beets offer folate (vitamin B9) and minerals like potassium and manganese and iron. In the olden days, people who were sick and needed “healthier blood” were offered beets or beet soup to make them healthier. Beets also improve blood circulation to the skin and the brain, reduce inflammation, and boost nitrates which help bring clean blood to the brain. Beets are superheroes for your body and are on our list of best foods for brain health for good reason — eating beets helps bring antioxidants to the skin and brain, can also help energize you, and lower your blood pressure.
Turmeric — Turmeric is easily one of the best spices for your brain and a major player when it comes to foods for glowing skin. It contains curcumin, which is anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant associated with memory. Curcumin helps feed the brain by boosting dopamine and serotonin, responsible for mood and depression. This powerful spice also helps brain cells grow by boosting growth hormones that specialize in brain cells, keeping the workings of the brain young and active. In skincare, turmeric is used to help with inflammation, as well, and is used as a key ingredient in our Calm Facial Bar. Turmeric boosts circulation, which may help the skin and minimize the appearance of dark circles under the eyes, which have been linked with circulation problems.
Nuts — In recent years, nuts have come front and center in the wellness industry for their benefits as some of the best foods for brain health.Many nuts are rich in vitamins and rich healthy fat, which feeds brain cells. Nuts like macadamia nuts, almonds, cashews, and Brazil nuts are wonderful for the skin, as well, containing antioxidants and keeping skin moisturized and protected from the environmental damages and transepidermal water loss. Walnuts also have omega 3 fatty acids and are great for feeding the brain as they help sharpen cognitive abilities. Nuts are rich in vitamin E, too, which is the most famous of the antioxidants, helping keep skin moist and youthful. One Brazil nut a day contains enough selenium to feed the brain and keep it from aging prematurely.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Coconut Oil — These are the two best oils for feeding the brain and helping with brain and skin health. Extra Virgin Olive oil can be used at lower heats or used as salad dressing, and coconut oil is better for high heat. Both work as anti-inflammatory benefits and help improve memory. Coconut oil has the added benefit of being an antioxidant, so it is very good food condiment for brain health. Both oils are good for the skin. If you have a tendency to break out, then coconut oil may be too heavy for your skin applied straight but may be OK as a lesser ingredient in a cleanser or other product. Both also work as fabulous hot-oil treatments to moisturize hair!
Vitamins From Many Sources — Vitamins are one of the best things for your brain and your skin, but not necessarily taken as a tablet. Try to eat foods that are rich in color, like oranges and lemons and blueberries for vitamin C. In skin care, we use vitamin C in our Restore Night Cream because vitamin C on the skin is used better at night time when we are out of the sun. It keeps the skin youthful and bright as it feeds the facial skin. C is an antioxidant. It helps guard against Alzheimer’s and supports overall brain health. Pumpkin seeds are a great source of zinc, which supports brain health and may help prevent conditions like Alzheimer’s and depression. They also contain antioxidants, iron, magnesium, and copper. Low levels of these minerals can lead to migraines, depression, and brain disease.
Avocado — There may be nothing more perfect than an avocado! Used as a face mask or eaten for brain health, this healthy monounsaturated fat keeps blood sugar levels even, provides vitamin K and folate to keep the brain from clots, and may protect against memory loss and stroke. As an added benefit, avocado or avocado oil are both ideal for foods for glowing skin, from the inside out!
Tips to Get More Vegetables Into Your Diet
While this list does contain every single food that’s best for brain health, we hope it is a good starting point for you! Try these tips to get more vegetables into your diet:
- Add a serving of blueberries to a smoothie with greens to deliver a power punch of antioxidant and vitamin C that will help your brain and skin health.
- Add a teaspoonful of turmeric to the next pot of soup or Indian curry that you make for dinner. The other ingredients in curry, like ginger, cumin, and coriander, all offer skin benefits and can lower blood pressure.
- Add a spoonful of pumpkin seeds to your next salad, sprinkle them over yogurt or granola, or take a handful of pumpkin seeds with some almonds and walnuts in a baggie for a quick snack at work or play. Be sure to toss in one Brazil nut for your selenium!
- Enjoy a cup of green tea for relaxation and, when you are done, place the tea bags on your eyes to help with dark circles.
- Now that you know more about the benefits of beets for skin health, try beets on your salad with avocado, nuts and seeds, and an olive oil dressing for a punch of nutrients. If you aren’t into beets on the salad, try skinning and roasting them in a 350-degree oven for at least a half an hour. They will be delicious and sweet tossed in olive oil, garlic, rosemary (another great brain food) and sea salt and pepper.
Support your skin from the inside out, and your body will thank you! By carefully choosing what we consume and keeping the health of our skin, hair, and nails at the forefront when you embark on a new wellness journey, you will find that you'll feel better faster. The best foods for brain health and glowing skin can support your skincare regime on a deeper level. We hope that you agree!
Questions on how to change up your routines in the kitchen and in your skin care? We’d love to connect with you! Get in touch with us today.
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