Stretch marks are a clear trace of skin extension caused by sudden weight gain or pregnancy.
They are formed by the laceration of the dermis, the intermediate layer of the skin; in particular, they arise due to the breakdown of elastic protein fibers.
Stretch marks are often characterized by pink or purplish lines, signs of the capillary lesion; over time, they change appearance, becoming clear and shiny.
Generally, stretch marks appear most frequently on: thighs, abdomen, hips, breasts and arms.
In emergence and healing, personal characteristics play a fundamental role; however, it should be noted that, once formed, these "scars" are almost indelible.
On the other hand, it is possible to prevent them with some precautions:
- Adopting a specific diet, designed to encourage the intake of essential substances for maintaining skin elasticity
- Practicing physical motor activity
- Applying topical products such as oils or creams.
Why Change Your Diet?
The diet against stretch marks is aimed at increasing the supply of essential nutrients for the elasticity of the skin; it has an essentially preventive and protective meaning.
The "synthesis" and "adjustment" of the elastic fibers is regulated by the histological functions of the dermis, which actively intervene to support the tissue. Basically, for how many nutrients can be introduced with food, if the organism does not actively intervene, the room for improvement is quite small.
The fundamental principle of the diet for stretch marks is to guarantee the dermal cells (fibroblasts) adequate quantities of those nutrients necessary for the synthesis of macromolecules that give turgor and elasticity to the skin.
The dermis, characterized by a protein reticulum synthesized by fibroblasts (reticular dermis), is composed of two types of proteins:
- Collagen: which gives resistance
- Elastin: which denotes elasticity.
If the texture of the reticular dermis is compromised by malnutrition, the likelihood of the onset of stretch marks increases.
Stretch marks are more extensive and evident in people who follow an unbalanced diet or one characterized by some nutritional deficiencies.
The most important dietary factors that must never be missing in the diet for stretch marks are:
- Polyunsaturated fatty acids: especially the essential ones of the omega 3 group show a rather significant correlation with skin health; in particular, the deficiency manifests itself with a dermatological dryness which could decrease the elasticity of the dermis.
- Phenolic substances: very powerful antioxidants that participate in the fight against free radicals; the latter can compromise the stability of fats in the cell membranes of the skin and break down hyaluronic acid.
We remind you that one of the most important sources of oxidative stress are UV rays, which are also responsible for the elastic compromise of the dermis (see below).
- Zinc: antioxidant and important for collagen synthesis.
- Selenium: antioxidant.
- Vitamin A and provitamins A (retinol and carotenoids): play a key role in protecting the skin from UV rays. The sun's rays have the ability to activate the enzymes in the skin that break down elastin. Additionally, carotenoids are powerful antioxidants.
- Vitamin PP or niacin: responsible for many enzymatic processes in the skin, improves the barrier effect of the skin. It is able to stimulate the fibroblasts to synthesize collagen.
- Vitamin C or ascorbic acid: antioxidant, it is directly involved in the synthesis of collagen. Regenerates Vitamin E from its oxidized form.
- Vitamin B2 or riboflavin: the deficiency induces seborrheic dermatitis; it is therefore logical to think that it is a very important vitamin for maintaining skin health.
- Vitamin E or tocopherol: it is a powerful antioxidant and blocks the action of UV rays which, as we have said, tend to compromise the integrity of elastin.
- Amino acids: are the building blocks of proteins; in particular, a deficiency of the essential ones could cause the reduced synthesis of collagen and elastin in the dermis.
- Water: hydration is a fundamental condition for maintaining skin elasticity. Dehydration increases the possibility of developing stretch marks.
- Coenzyme Q10: is a direct antioxidant that acts at the level of the mitochondrial membrane and regenerates vitamin E from its oxidized form.
- Hyaluronic acid: it is a polysaccharide (sugar) essential for the connective tissue.
- Glucosamine and Chondroitin: famous for their protective capacity towards cartilage, they also promote the synthesis of collagen.
What to eat?
All the nutrients and molecules useful for the prevention of stretch marks can be introduced in the right quantities following a balanced diet.
Now let's go into detail and try to better understand which food groups the various nutrients are associated with.
The table below simplifies and summarizes all the various nutritional sources.
NUTRITIONAL CONTENT FOR STRETCH MARKS
Meat, fish and eggs
Milk and derivatives
Fats, seasoning oils and oil seeds
Vegetables and fruit
NB. Cereals, tubers and legumes (including derivatives) also contain some of these nutrients; however, they are all present in lower concentrations than the list above.
The diet for stretch marks must first of all be varied and do not neglect the intake of any of the food groups we have talked about
. In short, we summarize what the recommended frequencies and portions of consumption can be:
- Meat twice a week *
- Fish two or three times a week *
- 3 whole eggs per week
- Milk once a day
- Natural yogurt once or twice a day
- Cheeses (as a dish) once or twice a week * (grated on pasta even every day, one or two teaspoons)
- 1 or 2 teaspoons of raw oil on each plate
- One-off 30g oilseeds (replacing three teaspoons of oil) or about 10g per day
- Fresh fruit two or three times a day
- Vegetables two or three times a day (at least once raw).
* The frequency of consumption of these foods considers the use of a large portion which, if necessary, can also be divided into two smaller ones to be divided on the same day.
To learn more: The best creams to use for stretch marks