Loose skin is a pesky problem that occurs from rapid weight loss or pregnancy. While surgery might seem like a quick, easy solution, diet is a far better alternative. Some foods have a tremendously beneficial effect on loose skin. By understanding how the skin reacts during weight gain and weight loss, a clearer picture is offered for how nutrition can help tighten loose skin.
It hardly seems fair that two very rewarding experiences of weight loss and giving birth would generate an effect as unpleasant as loose skin. But, the cellular level does not function in terms of fairness. Instead, loose skin occurs when the elasticity of the cell wall is put to the test. Weight gain causes cells to rapidly multiply. Consequently, the skin layer stretches in order to accommodate this increase in fat or to accommodate a growing embryo.
When you lose weight quickly, that layer shrinks, but the remnants will be loose skin. The key to this entire process of skin tightening and loosening is elasticity. How elastic the skin cell layer is will determine how quickly the skin layer recovers from this rubber band act.
Though seemingly counter-intuitive, fats will be one of your biggest allies at the cellular level. Essential fatty acids, known as EFAs, help with cell growth and repair. Translation: Fatty acids provide a nice wake-up call to that cellular layer, instructing them to regenerate any damaged cells and ultimately, increase elasticity. Monounsaturated fats also provide a nice buffer between any environmental toxins, such as free radicals, and shield the cell wall.
Beneficial fatty foods are from sources such as raw nuts, avocados, seeds and coconuts. The book, “Naturally Healthy Skin” explains how a deficiency of these fats slows healing of infections and skin problems.
Antioxidants have received much hype in the nutrition world and for good reason. Antioxidant-rich foods are like the palace guards at the United Kingdom—they let no intruder into the palace walls. Tightening loose skin is a cellular process that needs to be protected, too. A few free radicals from unhealthy, trans-fat laden foods can worsen loose skin, and antioxidants help the skin stay elastic by protecting the cell layer. Antioxidant-rich foods are blueberries, blackberries, pomegranates and any fruit with a rich dark color. The darker the color, the higher the antioxidant level is in the food. For a complete list of foods high in antioxidants, see Resources below.
Though water is not technically a food, loose skin is improved by staying hydrated. Think of a wrinkly raisin: the reason for the wrinkly exterior is due to the absence of water from the fruit. Your skin operates in a similar manner. Keeping your body hydrated enables fluid to flow between cells, which allows your skin to stay flexible and elastic. The book, “Wrinkle Free Forever” outlines how drinking plenty of water allows your cells in the loose skin area to regenerate and stay elastic.
Do not chug a gallon of water and eat nothing but fruit for a week and expect to see instant results. Gaining weight was a minimum nine-month process, so expect that same amount of time to see tangible consequences. On the bright side, a good diet has a number of other benefits, such as improved mood, weight loss, improved hair and nails, and other great side effects.