The fact that no two people on earth have the same fingerprint is testament to how unique the human skin is. The skin covers the entire external surface of the human body and it is the principal site of interaction with the surrounding world.
The skin serves as a protective shield against injury, ultraviolet (UV) radiation, temperature extremes, toxins, bacteria and infection. Its functions also include sensory perception, fluid control and blood transportation.
The skin is made up of three distinct layers – the epidermis, the dermis and the hypodermis.
The epidermis is the outermost layer of the skin, comprising protein, pores, keratin and epithelial cells. The dermis is the middle layer of the skin, comprising veins, serum proteins, lymph vessels, nerves, hair follicles, and sweat glands. It is the thickest layer of the skin, consisting of collagen, elastin and other proteinous connective tissues.
The last layer is the hypodermis, which covers the bones and muscles, connecting the dermis to the internal organs. It consists of protein and lipid cells, which act as a cushion against physical trauma to the body.
If anyone is wondering how eating protein food aids the skin, the answer is simple: the entire skin is constituted of protein cells.
Protein cells make up the entirety of the skin and hair found on the human bodies. It is, therefore, imperative to have a diet rich in protein nutrients for the continued nourishment of the skin. Here are five reasons to eat protein-rich meals for healthier skin:
Protein foods improve anti-ageing:
Protein-rich foods like soybeans, fish, groundnuts, milk and eggs have been proven to enhance the skin and produce collagen. If you are wondering what collagen is, well, it is a protein that helps improve the skin’s elasticity, preventing sagging and ultimately leaving your skin soft and youthful. Besides, the American journal of clinical nutrition states that eating protein-rich foods reduces wrinkling of the skin and renews skin cells because proteins replace worn-out cells and tissues.
So, if you want to look younger for longer, include healthy proteins in your diet.
Protein foods protect the skin from infection:
The skin is the first line of defence in fighting infection. It helps to protect us against invading pathogens from the external environment. However, undernourishment and protein deficiencies can leave the skin weak and vulnerable.
Protein deficiency is simply the lack of protein in our dietary intake. Protein deficiency puts the skin at risk. Eating protein-rich diets will not only reinforce the skin cells and tissues, but it will also aid the epidermis in secreting biochemicals like sebum and lysozyme, enzymes that kill off bacterium and harmful pathogens.
These biochemicals also seal off the skin pores and skin follicles to prevent germs from entering the body.
Protein foods promote healing:
Proteins repair and replace damaged cells and tissues. Consuming a diet rich in proteins will boost the skin’s ability to heal wounds, scars and blemishes that discolour the appearance of the skin. Dermatologists also recommend consumption of plant proteins like soybeans as the fastest way to heal from lacerations, injuries and sores.
Protein foods promote skin cell regeneration by creating more adipose tissues and dermal cells, which cover old injured cells and replace them with renewed ones.
Protein foods also contain antioxidants, which are substances that protect the cells against free radicals. Free radicals are waste substances produced by cells as the body processes food and reacts to the environment, and so protein meals produce these antioxidants to help neutralize these radicals in the body, boosting overall health.
Protein foods protect the skin from cancer:
Soybeans, an excellent source of protein, contains isoflavones, an antioxidant. These isoflavones are biological substances that protect the skin from harsh ultraviolet rays and skin cancer. Research from the US National Library of Medicine states that isoflavones protect the skin from harmful radiations and hormone-dependent cancer.
Other protein foods also offer skin protection. Milk contains calcium, which is good for removing dead cells from the skin’s surface. Fish contains omega 3 fatty acids, which keep the skin supple and moisturized.
Protein foods improve blood flow:
The skin, being the largest organ, is the protective barrier that contains the blood vessels and veins with which blood flows throughout the body. Research studies have shown that eating a protein-rich diet improves blood flow, which nourishes skin cells. Blood cells are made of amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins.
One thing is clear, proteins are essential for the maintenance and overall health of the skin.
The onus is on each of us to ensure that meal plans involve protein-rich meals today. This is a veritable way to protect the skin. Get protein and begin to glow!
Reginald Onabu, Researcher and Public Relations Officer, Writes from Lagos