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Filaggrin Protein in Foods: Skin Barrier Boost

November 17, 2023

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Maintaining healthy, radiant skin goes beyond just applying creams and serums. The key to truly resilient and vibrant skin lies in nurturing its natural defenses. One essential player in this defense system is the filaggrin protein. While commonly associated with genetic factors, recent research has revealed that the foods we consume can significantly impact filaggrin production and consequently, the strength of our skin barrier. 

In this article, we delve into the world of filaggrin protein, its importance for skin health, and the foods that can support its production.

Understanding Filaggrin Protein

Filaggrin is a vital protein naturally produced by our skin cells, particularly in the outermost layer called the epidermis. This protein plays a crucial role in maintaining the integrity of the skin barrier. The skin barrier, also known as the stratum corneum, serves as a protective shield against external aggressors such as pollutants, microbes, and UV radiation. Filaggrin helps skin cells bind together, promoting hydration retention and preventing moisture loss. Additionally, filaggrin breaks down into amino acids, which contribute to the natural moisturizing factor of the skin, ensuring suppleness and preventing dryness.

Genetics vs. Diet

While genetics play a significant role in determining our skin’s inherent capabilities, emerging research suggests that diet can influence the expression of genes related to filaggrin production. Variations in filaggrin gene expression have been associated with skin conditions like eczema and dermatitis. However, studies show that consuming certain foods can support the synthesis of filaggrin protein, even in individuals with genetic predispositions.

Skin Health and Inflammation

The connection between what we eat and the health of our skin is intricate and multifaceted. For some individuals, consuming certain foods can trigger a cascade of events, specifically allergic reactions, that compromise skin health, leading to inflammation and a compromised skin barrier. A childhood food allergy can be a problem in the future, especially when finding treatment options for skin conditions.

Inflammation caused by food allergies can impact the skin barrier’s integrity. The skin barrier relies on optimal levels of proteins like filaggrin, which help maintain hydration and prevent irritants from entering. Inflammation can disrupt this balance, leading to a weakened skin barrier that’s more susceptible to external aggressors. Identifying trigger foods and making dietary adjustments can be beneficial, especially for individuals prone to skin conditions exacerbated by inflammation.

A child scratches atopic skin

Unveiling the Connection: Filaggrin and Chronic Skin Problems like Eczema and Psoriasis

Chronic skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis, can have a profound impact on the quality of life. The intricate relationship between these conditions and the filaggrin protein adds an extra layer of complexity to our understanding of skin health. 

Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis) and Filaggrin

Eczema, characterized by inflamed, itchy, and dry skin, is closely linked to filaggrin deficiency. Certain genetic variations can lead to reduced filaggrin production or even filaggrin loss of function, resulting in a compromised skin barrier. This weakened barrier allows irritants, allergens, and microbes to penetrate the skin more easily, triggering an immune response and inflammation. When you develop atopic eczema, the hallmark symptoms, including redness, itching, and the “itch-scratch” cycle, are exacerbated by the compromised barrier, leading to a vicious cycle of skin irritation.

Psoriasis and Filaggrin

While psoriasis is distinct from eczema, both conditions involve intricate immune system responses and disruptions in skin barrier function. In the context of psoriasis, filaggrin’s role is multifaceted. Reduced filaggrin levels have been observed in psoriatic skin, contributing to the thickening of the epidermis seen in psoriasis. Additionally, filaggrin breakdown products are involved in the regulation of inflammation, and their imbalance can contribute to the immune dysregulation characteristic of psoriasis.

How Pollution, UV Radiation, and Weather Impact Filaggrin and Skin Health

1. Pollution and Filaggrin Disruption: Air pollutants, such as particulate matter, volatile organic compounds, and heavy metals, pose a threat to filaggrin production. These particles can penetrate the skin and generate oxidative stress, triggering inflammation and weakening the skin barrier. As filaggrin’s synthesis depends on a well-balanced environment, the disruption caused by pollution can impact its production, leading to compromised skin integrity and potential skin conditions.

2. UV Radiation and Filaggrin Breakdown: UV radiation from the sun, specifically UVA and UVB rays, is a significant contributor to skin damage. Prolonged UV exposure leads to the breakdown of filaggrin, reducing its availability for maintaining the skin barrier’s integrity. This breakdown also impairs the skin’s ability to retain moisture, potentially leading to dryness and vulnerability to environmental stressors.

3. Harsh Weather Conditions and Filaggrin Depletion: Extreme temperatures, low humidity, and strong winds can strip the skin of its natural oils, disrupting the skin barrier and impacting filaggrin production. Cold weather can lead to dryness, while hot and humid conditions can trigger excessive oil production, both of which can compromise the balance necessary for filaggrin synthesis.

Selection of healthy food fish, vegetables, antioxidants and sources of omega 3-2

Foods That Boost Filaggrin Production

While external skincare plays a significant role in maintaining healthy skin, the adage “you are what you eat” holds true for skin health as well. Nutritional supplements can serve as powerful allies in supporting filaggrin production and enhancing the skin barrier’s function. Specifically, supplements like fish oil (omega-3 fatty acids), vitamin D, and zinc have garnered attention for their potential to bolster skin health. However, it’s crucial to tread cautiously and consult a healthcare professional before incorporating supplements into your diet.

1. Fish Oil (Omega-3 Fatty Acids)

Omega-3 fatty acids, abundant in fish oil, are renowned for their anti-inflammatory properties. Fish oil is not only vital for bone health but also for overall skin wellness. It plays a role in skin barrier function and helps maintain optimal immune responses. By supporting skin cell growth and regulating immune function, fish oil potentially aids filaggrin production and enhances the skin’s resilience.

2. Zinc

Zinc is a mineral with numerous roles in the body, including skin health. It’s involved in wound healing, immune regulation, and controlling inflammation. A deficiency in zinc can compromise the skin barrier and slow down wound healing. By providing the building blocks for skin repair and playing a role in filaggrin synthesis, zinc contributes to a strong skin barrier.

3. Antioxidant-Rich Fruits and Vegetables

Berries, citrus fruits, leafy greens, and bell peppers are rich in antioxidants like vitamins C and E. These antioxidants protect skin cells from oxidative stress, promoting overall skin vitality and potentially aiding filaggrin production.

4. Protein Sources

Incorporating lean protein sources such as lean meats, poultry, legumes, and tofu provides essential amino acids necessary for filaggrin protein synthesis.

Culinary Choices: Impact of Cooking Methods on Nutrient-Rich Foods for Filaggrin Production

The art of cooking not only delights our taste buds but also profoundly influences the nutritional value of the foods we consume. When it comes to nutrient-rich foods that support filaggrin production and skin health, such as omega-3 fatty acid sources, vitamin D-rich ingredients, and zinc-containing foods, the cooking method you choose can significantly affect the nutrient content. Let’s explore how different cooking methods impact these nutrients and their potential to enhance filaggrin production.

1. Omega-3 Fatty Acid Sources: Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines, are renowned for their anti-inflammatory properties and potential to support filaggrin production indirectly. The choice of cooking method can influence the preservation of these beneficial fats:

  • Baking or Grilling: These methods help retain omega-3 fatty acids, as they involve lower temperatures and shorter cooking times compared to frying.
  • Steaming: Steaming fish gently cooks it without exposing it to direct heat, which helps preserve omega-3 content.
  • Avoid Deep Frying: Deep frying can lead to a loss of omega-3 fatty acids due to high temperatures and extended cooking times.

2. Vitamin D-Rich Foods: Vitamin D, crucial for skin health and overall well-being, can be found in foods like fatty fish, fortified dairy products, and eggs. The cooking method you choose can impact the vitamin D content:

  • Minimal Heat Exposure: Vitamin D is sensitive to heat and light. Cooking methods that involve minimal heat exposure, such as quick sautéing or light poaching, help retain more of the vitamin.
  • Avoid Overcooking: Prolonged cooking at high temperatures can lead to vitamin D degradation. Avoid overcooking to preserve the nutrient content.

3. Zinc-Containing Foods: Zinc is essential for skin repair and immune function. Foods like nuts, seeds, legumes, and lean meats are rich in this mineral. If you have a peanut allergy or similar allergic disorders, you need to find alternative sources of zinc. Different cooking methods can affect the availability of zinc:

  • Gentle Cooking: Cooking methods like steaming and baking help preserve zinc content better than boiling, as boiling can leach out water-soluble nutrients like zinc.
  • Soaking and Sprouting: Soaking nuts, seeds, and legumes before cooking can enhance the bioavailability of zinc by reducing phytates, compounds that can inhibit nutrient absorption.
  • Avoid Excessive Processing: Highly processed foods might have reduced zinc content due to the refining process.

Matcha green tea

Anti-Inflammatory Allies for Radiant Skin: Harnessing the Power of Turmeric, Ginger, Green Tea, and Dark Leafy Greens

The quest for healthy, radiant skin goes beyond skin care products. What we consume plays a pivotal role in nurturing our skin’s natural glow. Anti-inflammatory foods are key players in this pursuit, as they combat inflammation—the common denominator in many skin issues. Let’s explore the wonders of turmeric, ginger, green tea, and dark leafy greens, and how they can contribute to reduced inflammation and indirectly support filaggrin function.

1. Turmeric: Golden Elixir of Skin Wellness

Turmeric is a potent anti-inflammatory spice revered for curcumin, its active compound. Curcumin’s ability to inhibit inflammatory pathways makes it a valuable ally for various skin conditions. By reducing inflammation, turmeric indirectly supports filaggrin’s role in maintaining a robust skin barrier.

2. Ginger: Nature’s Skin Soother

Ginger boasts anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, making it a dynamic ingredient for promoting skin health. Its potential to mitigate inflammation helps alleviate redness, irritation, and even certain inflammatory skin conditions.

3. Green Tea: Sip Your Way to Skin Nirvana

Green tea contains polyphenols—powerful antioxidants with anti-inflammatory effects. These compounds combat oxidative stress, protecting skin cells and supporting a healthy complexion. By minimizing inflammation, green tea indirectly contributes to maintaining the skin barrier’s integrity.

4. Dark Leafy Greens: Nutrient-Rich Skin Saviors

Dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, and Swiss chard are nutritional powerhouses. Rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, they nourish the skin from within. Their anti-inflammatory properties can soothe skin issues and enhance the overall skin environment, indirectly fostering filaggrin’s function.

A Symphony of Support for Filaggrin 

While these anti-inflammatory foods offer remarkable benefits individually, their collective impact is a symphony of support for skin health and filaggrin function. By reducing inflammation, they create an environment conducive to optimal skin barrier function. This, in turn, supports filaggrin’s role in maintaining hydration and preventing moisture loss.

Incorporating Anti-Inflammatory Foods into Your Diet:

  • Golden Milk: Turmeric can be enjoyed in the form of golden milk—a soothing beverage made with turmeric, milk (dairy or plant-based), and a touch of black pepper for enhanced curcumin absorption.
  • Ginger-Infused Meals: Add ginger to soups, stir-fries, or smoothies for a zesty, anti-inflammatory boost.
  • Green Tea Ritual: Savor cups of green tea throughout the day to benefit from its antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Nutrient-Packed Salads: Create salads featuring dark leafy greens as a foundation, adorned with a rainbow of veggies, lean proteins, and healthy fats.

Sample Meal Plan and Recipe Ideas for Nourishing Skin Health

Here’s an oral food challenge to try if you want to help boost filaggrin levels in your skin.

Day 1: Balanced Breakfast Smoothie Bowl

  • Blend 1 frozen banana, ½ cup spinach, ¼ cup Greek yogurt, 1 tbsp chia seeds, and a splash of almond milk (a great alternative if you have a milk allergy).
  • Top with sliced strawberries, a sprinkle of crushed walnuts, and a drizzle of honey.

Day 2: Wholesome Lunch Salmon Quinoa Salad

  • Grill a salmon fillet seasoned with lemon, olive oil, and a pinch of turmeric.
  • Toss cooked quinoa with diced cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, red onion, and chopped parsley.
  • Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and top with the grilled salmon.

Day 3: Nutrient-Packed Snack Trail Mix Delight

  • Combine a handful of mixed nuts (almonds, walnuts, and cashews) with dried cranberries and dark chocolate chips.
  • Sprinkle with a touch of cinnamon for extra flavor.

Day 4: Wholesome Dinner Stir-Fried Ginger Tofu with Greens

  • Sauté cubed tofu in sesame oil with minced ginger, garlic, and sliced bell peppers.
  • Add in a handful of spinach and chopped kale until wilted.
  • Serve over brown rice and drizzle with soy sauce or tamari.

Day 5: Skin-Boosting Smoothie Green Tea Berry Bliss

  • Brew a cup of green tea and let it cool.
  • Blend the cooled tea with frozen mixed berries, a handful of spinach, a scoop of collagen powder, and a splash of almond milk.

Day 6: Hearty Dinner Zesty Turmeric Chicken with Roasted Veggies

  • Marinate chicken breasts with turmeric, cumin, paprika, and a squeeze of lemon juice.
  • Roast chicken in the oven alongside a mix of carrots, broccoli, and sweet potatoes, tossed with olive oil and herbs.

Day 7: Satisfying Snack Avocado Toast with a Twist

  • Spread mashed avocado on whole-grain toast.
  • Top with sliced radishes, a sprinkle of chia seeds, and a pinch of red pepper flakes for a kick.

Shot of a beautiful young woman applying moisturiser to her face

Tips for Optimal Skin Nutrition

  • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your skin hydrated.
  • Choose Whole Foods: Opt for whole grains, lean proteins, and a colorful array of fruits and vegetables.
  • Embrace Healthy Fats: Incorporate sources of healthy fats like avocados, nuts, and olive oil.
  • Variety Matters: Aim for a diverse range of nutrients by incorporating different foods into your meals.
  • Mindful Cooking: Use cooking methods like baking, grilling, and steaming to retain nutrients.
  • Snack Smartly: Opt for nutrient-dense snacks that support skin health and keep you satisfied between meals.

Supplementing Filaggrin Protein in Foods With Medovie Skincare Products

Filaggrin is an essential protein found in the outer layer of skin, playing a role in hydration retention and maintaining the skin barrier. Genetics and diet can both influence filaggrin production as research has found that consuming certain foods can support its synthesis. Its disruption or deficiency has been linked to chronic skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, compromised skin barrier, and dryness.

Pollution, UV radiation, and harsh weather conditions can deplete filaggrin levels and weaken the skin barrier. To counteract this, nutritional supplements like fish oil (omega-3 fatty acids), vitamin D, and zinc can be ingested as they have the potential to bolster skin health.

For optimal nutrition, always stay hydrated, embrace healthy fats & variety in meals/snacks, and choose whole foods & mindful cooking. And if you want to make your skin healthier, try Medovie products.

At Medovie, we are genuinely committed to delivering results for your skin. Our natural skincare products soothe and protect your irritated skin, allowing you to take control and restore a healthy complexion.

Experience the benefits of our innovative 3HX™ formula with our range of derma creams, lotions, shampoos, and capsules. This double-action system penetrates deep into your skin, promoting healthy cell production while soothing external irritations.

Give Medovie a try today for healthier skin!

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