While we’re all at home in quarantine-mode right now, there are two emotional responses that the word “cooking” can trigger.
Response 1: OMG, just the thought of cooking yet another meal for this houseful of constantly-hungry boys brings me to tears. (Please send wine.)
Response 2: I’ve really embraced the joy of cooking during this time at home and I’m so excited to try new recipes and ingredients!
If you’re in the latter camp, I envy you. But experts agree that cooking at home right now has very real psychological benefits. Cooking is a focused, nurturing, creative, intimate activity. An OG form of self care, cooking sends your brain a message that you are important enough to enjoy a good meal and capable enough to prepare one. And whether you are cooking healthy meals or meals that just make you feel good (and it’s 💯 okay to cut ourselves a little slack and indulge in comfort food during this crazy time), you are nourishing your body and your spirit.
If you are cooking for others right now, it’s essentially an act of love that strengthens your primary bond. You’re not only helping them to fulfill a basic need, but you’re also demonstrating how you care about their culinary likes and dislikes. Plus, it can really fuel your soul when you watch someone truly enjoying the meal you just cooked!
And finally, when you’re focused on what ingredient goes where, how long to simmer and when to stir, there’s a brief time when you forget about your sister who’s a doctor on the front lines, when your unemployment payments are supposed kick in, or how your parents are still going out to the grocery store. We’re all under a tremendous amount of stress right now, and the time you spend focused on cooking can be a quick escape from the everyday barrage of covid-19-related worries.
What does all of this have to do with skin?
More than you might think. Stress is a significant trigger for acne, and cooking – as a de-stressor – can actually reduce breakouts. “By reducing stress, you are also reducing cortisol production,” explains Dr. Anna Guanche, a California-based, board-certified dermatologist and celebrity beauty expert. “Cortisol is the “stress hormone” that can increase androgens and therefore oil production. Excess oil is one of the driving forces behind acne breakouts. So put some great music on, pour a glass of wine (if you are old enough) and focus on the basics of cooking right in front of you. This will help you de-stress.”
Since most of us would be happy to follow that sort of doctor’s orders, only one question remains: what to cook. We spoke to derms, dieticians and other nutrition experts to compile a list of the top “superfoods for skin.” So, the next time you wake up at 5 a.m. to nab a grocery delivery time, be sure to add a few of these complexion-friendly ingredients to your cart to kickstart your healthy skin diet!
RELATED READ: 8 quick tips to get rid of stress acne
Here are the best foods for skin:
“Salmon is famously known for being an omega-3 powerhouse,” explains nutritionist Jenna Hope. “Omega-3 (or rather DHA – a type of omega-3) plays an important role in keeping our skin cells soft, supple and full of moisture. What’s more is that EPA (another type of Omega-3) helps to ensure your skin stays hydrated through a regular production of moisture.” Hope recommends salmon as an ideal dinner choice, since omega-3 also contributes to the release of the sleep hormone, melatonin.
This essential mineral is one of the top foods for glowing skin, according to several of our health and nutrition experts. Plus, you can cook with (or snack on) so many different foods containing zinc: chickpeas, kidney beans, oysters, crab meat, chicken, beef, pumpkin seeds, cashews and walnuts.
“Zinc has an anti-inflammatory effect on skin,” explains Dr. Tsippora Shainhouse, a Beverly Hills-based, board-certified dermatologist. “It is also an essential component in wound healing and maintenance of a healthy cell membrane. Zinc helps to reduce sebum production, in turn reducing skin grease and pore-clogging, as well as killing P. acnes bacteria both on the skin and in the pores.”
Spinach, kale, and leafy green vegetables
“Leafy greens are loaded with vitamins, especially vitamin K, which improves blood circulation,” says Lynell Ross, a certified health and wellness coach and founder of Zivadream. “That's also why they are good for the heart, reduce inflammation and help to stop acne breakouts.” Most leafy greens also have a high content of vitamin A, which encourages healthy skin cell production and stimulates the cells that help to keep it firm. And let’s not forget that leafy greens are an excellent source of chlorophyll, a molecule that helps the body eliminate toxins.
Baked, mashed, and heck, even frozen french fry-style (with a little sriracha mayo for an especially tasty side) – sweet potatoes are an easy, family-friendly skin food! “Sweet potatoes are rich in biotin (otherwise known as vitamin B7), says Hope. “Biotin is required to help break down the fats within the skin to support healthy skin cells. They’re also high in vitamin A, another antioxidant which will work together with vitamin E to fight off those uninvited free radicals. Switching your white potatoes for the orange variety is a great way to increase your antioxidant intake.”
“Probiotics help the skin restore balance,” explains Shauna Faulisi, celebrity wellness chef and holistic nutritionist. “How you look and feel is rooted in the health of your gut. When your gut is unhealthy, it has a big overall impact on your skin, triggering inflammation, acne, eczema and rosacea. By keeping your gut healthy, you can unlock clear, glowing skin. Having a good balance of bacteria, yeast and other tiny organisms in the body can provide a good foundation for better overall health.”
So the next time you fire up a Houseparty with friends, why not have a skin-lovin’ happy hour? Put on your favorite skincare mask or treatment and mix up one of Faulisi’s favorite skin-brightening drinks: the Bubbly Rose Coconut Mocktail.
- 4oz Bubbly Rose Health-Ade Kombucha
- 2oz full-fat unsweetened coconut milk
- 2 tsp Aquafaba for froth (the liquid from a can of garbanzo beans)
- 4 drops of stevia
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Cardamom powder
- Place a handful of ice in your glass.
- In a cocktail shaker, combine the wet ingredients. Shake vigorously for 10 seconds.
- Carefully remove the top, as there will be some carbonation and pressure inside.
- Pour over your ice. Garnish with a dash of cardamom powder.