How to make a vegetarian diet work for skin | Dr. Saumya Shetty | SkinGenious
vegetarian salad in a blue plate

How to ensure that your vegetarian diet fulfills all your skin needs.

Overview

Our bodies at the end of the day, are an accumulation of what we eat. Keeping this in mind enables us to appreciate that our diet is an essential part of staying healthy. Skin health is no different, food and water intake does play an essential role. For your skin, anti-oxidants are really good to give you a natural glow and keep free radicals away. There are also dietary elements that are essential for the control of acne.

Common perceptions about vegetarianism

The usual perception that people have with vegetarianism and health in India is that the only thing that vegetarians need to bother about is that they do not get enough protein. Proteins are important for your skin too. Connective tissue, that keeps your skin together is protein-based tissue. Protein is also really important for healthy hair. Is it true then? Do vegetarians not get enough protein? The answer is a simple NO. Vegetarian diets can also be rich in protein.

 

It is therefore important to have a fair idea of what nutrients need to be focused on by vegetarians, because they are short on them. We also must know the inherent health advantages that a vegetarian gets over meat or egg consuming diets. Beyond this I will also share here some power foods that are good for your skin!

vegetarian diet ingredients for healthy skin

Health (including skin) advantages of a vegetarian diet

The one thing that a vegetarian diet ensures is that the diet contains lesser amounts of saturated fats and cholesterol. This is good for your skin. This means that you are consuming fewer calories which is helpful in the control of acne. Also, vegetarian diets are richer in unsaturated fats in general, which include omega 3 and omega 6 which are not only helpful in controlling acne break-outs but also play an essential role in normal skin function.

 

Related reading: Treatment of acne

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What nutrients are generally in short supply for a vegetarian?

This is not universal, but studies have shown that vegetarian diets tend to fall short of nutrients such as B vitamins, calcium and iron. Of these, the most significant is Vitamin B12. You therefore need to ensure that you keep replenishing your vitamin B12 levels. This can be achieved through oral supplements as well as injectables.

 

Skin and hair manifestations of Vitamin B12 deficiency include:

  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Hair fall
  • Angular stomatitis
  • Non-healing of chronic cutaneous lesions.

 

You may also like to read: Hair loss treatment with Platelet rich plasma therapy

Vegetarian power foods for your skin

  1. Tomatoes: They have an abundant amount of lycopene. This is a strong antioxidant that helps to protect the skin from free radical damage thereby giving your skin a brighter and smoother look.
  2. Citrus fruits: Rich in flavonoids and Vitamin C, which are antioxidants, they help you against sun damage and age-related damage to the skin.
  3. Walnuts: Packed with Omega 3 fatty acids, they help you look and feel younger.
  4. Carrots: They contain a significant amount of beta carotene which helps you with the necessary dose of vitamin A and antioxidants that are necessary for healthy and younger looking skin. Studies have shown that beta carotene is also photo protective and helps prevent sunburns and sun damage in people with sensitive skin.
  5. Safflower oil: It is hydrating and anti-inflammatory in nature thereby helpful in preventing skin conditions like eczemas, psoriasis and acne.
  6. Dark chocolate: The cocoa powder in dark chocolate is rich in flavonoids which is a wonderful antiaging antioxidant. This bioactive protects against sun damage, improves blood flow to the skin and also helps in hydration.
  7. Avocados: They have healthy fats, Vitamin E, Vitamin C and minerals which prevent oxidative damage caused by the sun and environment. They are also photoprotective and prevent inflammation. They help improve skin elasticity making you look younger!
  8. Flax seeds: these healthy seeds contain lignans and omega 3 fatty acids which play a role in decreasing inflammation, keeping the skin hydrated as well as improvement in fine lines and wrinkles.
  9. Berries: Packed with antioxidants, they help to reduce skin wrinkling and improve the elasticity of skin.

 

 

A healthy salad where you are adding some of these power foods followed by dark chocolate for dessert sounds perfect!

walnuts on a table

The role of water intake

Vegetarian diets are again inherently richer in water. This does not mean that it is a substitute for your water intake. Water does play an essential role in your skin.

 

Water plays a crucial role in maintaining the elasticity of skin. It helps fight acne, eczemas and aging. So how much water should a vegetarian consume in a day? There is no specific answer to that. Just make sure that water is the primary drink in your day and you are consuming it whenever you are feeling thirsty and your body craves it. Do not let your skin get dehydrated. All the power foods in the world will not help If your water intake is not sufficient.

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Avoid processed sugar

Whether you are vegetarian or a meat eater, the presence of high amounts of processed sugars, is not good for your skin. Consumption of sugar leads to a spike in insulin levels which in turn plays a role is adverse conditions like acne break-outs. There are also studies which show that it plays a role in causing hyperpigmentation or patches of dark skin. You want to avoid these.

Conclusion

A vegetarian diet has enough options to maintain healthy skin and hair. The main thing you need to look out for is deficiency in Vitamin B12. Add some of the listed power foods to your diet for better skin results and drink as much water as your body craves. Avoid processed sugar as much as you can and consult a dermatologist for any hair and skin concerns.