Emblem for Skin Support Module - Raw Food Choices for Skin Health

Executive Summary

Making sure your diet includes enough raw vegetables is a simple way to reduce the risk of disease, stabilize immune function and improve antioxidant availability; all of which are important for healthier skin and reduced levels of systemic inflammation.

Introduction

Diets high in vegetables have long been associated with a wide variety of beneficial effects on human health.

Unfortunately, many individuals fail to appreciate that a difference exists between raw and cooked vegetables. And because of this many diets can be skewed in favor of cooked vegetables.

Nonetheless, consuming adequate amounts of raw vegetables is important because certain nutrients can be lost during exposure to heat.

Specific examples include:

  • Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) is easily destroyed by heat [1]
  • Cooking may reduce some specific carotenoids [2]
  • Cooking can increase the glycemic index of certain vegetables [3]
  • Potential anti-oxidative and DNA-protective effect may be diminished [4]

Documented Benefits

Specific beneficial effects of nutrients found in vegetables which can be destroyed or deactivated by heat include:

  • Vitamin C has been shown to improve reduce oxidative damage and plays a critical role in collagen formation []
  • The specific (xanthophyll) carotenoids are associated with reduced oxidative DNA damage and lipid peroxidation [5]
  • A unique beneficial compound (isothiocyanates) found in cruciferous vegetables has been associated with with a reduced risk of cancer, heart disease and improved gut health [6, 7]
  • Specific compounds in brussels sprouts have been shown have significant beneficial effects on colon cancer [8]
  • Allyl sulfur compounds found in garlic have been associated with significant anticancer effects and beneficial effects on cardiovascular health [9, 10]

Additionally, some researchers have noted that in general raw vegetables appear to have a more influential effect on cancer prevention and risk of cardiovascular disease [11, 12, 13].

Why It’s Important for Inflammatory Skin Disease

Characteristics most important for individuals affected by inflammatory skin disorders:

  • Improved cardiovascular health
  • Improved antioxidant availability
  • Improved gut health

Expected improvements:

  • Improved skin cell stability
  • Reduced skin sensitivity
  • Reduced systemic inflammation

Ideas for Integration

Many of us get lazy when it comes to health eating. Washing and portioning your favorite vegetables the night before is an easy way to ensure you make raw vegetables a simple daily habit. However, don’t cut your pieces too small, as this can result in significant nutrient loss.

Additional Notes

  • Many advocate a strictly raw food diet, but cooking appears to be an integral part of human culture and a more balanced dietary approach is likely more beneficial [14]
  • Isolated nutrients (supplements) often fail to produce the same level of beneficial effects obtained from whole foods rich in these nutrients [15]
  • The cooking of certain vegetables has been shown to improve their antioxidant potential and allow for better nutrient absorption [16, 17]
  • Cooking can breakdown certain compounds which allows us to eat vegetables that might otherwise be inedible [18]
  • Heating tomatoes can result in increased lycopene content and antioxidant activity [19]
  • Both raw and cooked vegetables have their own beneficial characteristics. Making sure our diet has adequate amounts of both can help us obtain a more balanced spectrum of benefits.

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