Diabetes can cause blood vessels to shrink, resulting in poor circulation and blood flow, leading to everything from dry skin to more serious problems like nerve damage. The skin is also your body’s first line of defense against infection. You can strengthen your skin from the inside out with a well-balanced diet, regular skin care, and careful blood sugar management.
The skin consists of two main layers—the epidermis and dermis. The epidermis is the outer layer that acts as a barrier from the environment. The dermis is the underneath layer that gets and transports nutrients to the upper layer. Your skin needs support from the inside (your diet) and outside (skin care) to stay as healthy as possible. We’ve got six tips to help.
Your body needs water. It helps:
- Maintain your body temperature
- Protect vulnerable areas of the body, like the spinal cord
- Flush out waste
- Cushion and lubricate the joints
Water keeps your skin plump, moist, and flexible, too. If you become dehydrated, the skin can look dull, itchy, and more prone to wrinkles.
Most people need between 8 to 13 cups of water every day. How much water you need depends on where you live, your size, weight, and activity level. You can also get water from the food you eat. Fruits, for example, are some of the best sources of water other than actually drinking it.
Eat Your Zinc and Selenium
Your skin uses zinc and selenium to maintain cell health and integrity. They also play a role in protecting you from the sun’s UV rays. For that reason, zinc is a common ingredient in topical sunscreens.
Protein sources like red meat, beans, nuts, and certain seafood like oysters and lobster contain high amounts of zinc. You find selenium in many of the same sources—red meat, pork, fish, and nuts. As long as you’re eating a well-balanced diet from a variety of food sources, chances are you’re already getting enough zinc and selenium.
Protect with Vitamin E
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that’s naturally found in your skin. It gets delivered through sebum, an oily substance made and released through the sebaceous glands. You can apply lotions, creams, and serums with vitamin E directly to the skin. The vitamin E then soaks into the epidermis, helping to create a protective layer.
However, adequate vitamin E intake also makes sure that your body is producing enough vitamin E on its own. Make foods like almonds, peanuts, spinach, collard greens, and red bell peppers a regular part of your diet to make sure you’re getting enough vitamin E.
Everyone knows about vitamin C’s immune-boosting power, but it also protects the skin from the sun, prevents aging, promotes healing, and helps keep the skin hydrated. Most of the skin’s vitamin C comes from the food you eat rather than topical ointments and lotions. Vitamin C is water-soluble, meaning you have to ingest it every day to get the benefits.
Foods rich in vitamin C include citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and grapefruit, as well as peppers, broccoli, potatoes, and brussel sprouts. Vitamin C is also a common supplement either alone or in multivitamins.
Moisturize Your Skin (Day and Night)
Circulation issues make diabetic skin more prone to dryness, infection, and prolonged healing times. Regular use of a gentle moisturizer is one of the best “outside” ways to boost your skin’s health.
Moisturize in the morning before starting daily activities with VitalFit’s Day Moisturizer. This moisturizer’s antifungal properties reduce the chances of getting fungal infections to which diabetics are more prone.
Your skin heals while you sleep, so it’s important to use a moisturizer before bed, too. Apply a night moisturizer designed to aid the healing process. You can also lock more moisture into the skin by applying moisturizer after taking and drying from a shower.
Diabetes can affect the body’s ability to heal, including from sunburns. Apply sunscreen every day. Sunscreens can layer on top of your regular moisturizer. Use it daily, even if the weather is overcast and cloudy. UV rays can still make it through the cloud cover.
A Final Note
In general, a well-balanced diet provides the nutrients your skin needs. Choose fresh fruits and vegetables over pre-packaged meals and snacks that provide plenty of calories but few nutrients. Talk to your doctor to see if you need a multivitamin or other supplement to promote general skin health.
Finally, make regular skin care part of your routine. Daily care helps keep the skin strong and alerts you to any developing issues before they become a problem.