Many women think stretch marks are a necessary evil, especially during pregnancy.
The “mark” is actually created in the middle layer of the skin, when continuously stretched over a period of time. Continued tension causes the tissue fibers to break down, and this breakdown is visible on the top layer of the skin. Between 75 percent and 90 percent of women develop stretch marks during pregnancy and most appear during the third trimester due to sustained hormone levels as well as more stretching of the skin from the baby’s rapid growth.
Moisturizing several times a day is crucial to help the skin stay hydrated and pliable, increasing its potential to stretch. Sometimes moisturizing alone is enough to keep stretch marks away, but moisturizers only work on the outer skin. The majority of women will need to take extra measures to improve elasticity through diet. Always consult with your doctor before making any changes to your current diet, especially during pregnancy.
True hydration happens from the inside. Drinking enough water is very important to maintain proper hydration. Well-hydrated skin is not only more pliable than dehydrated skin, it’s also less prone to stretch marks. Eliminate any beverages that contribute to dehydration such as caffeine and sugary drinks. According to The Cleveland Clinic, beverages with caffeine will actually increase your risk for stretch marks.
Collagen is one of the primary components of skin. It helps strengthen cartilage, blood vessels and connective tissue while providing the flexibility and resilience skin needs to withstand stretching. Since collagen occurs naturally in the connective tissue of animals, bone broth is one of the best foods to reduce the likelihood of stretch marks. Soup bones are easy to find and broth can be made at home by slowly simmering the bones in water and herbs (for increased flavor) for several hours. Bones from grass-fed, organic animals are the best choice, especially during pregnancy, since they are free of antibiotics and hormones.
Vitamins A, C and E should also play an important part in a diet to prevent stretch marks.
Vitamin A protects skin health while encouraging the formation of new skin cells. Bright orange fruits and vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, apricots and mango are great sources. Other foods high in vitamin A include liver and leafy greens such as spinach and kale.
Vitamin E is essential for healthy skin as well as the repair of damaged skin. The best sources include nuts, seeds and avocados.
Vitamin C helps protect and maintain the appearance of the skin while helping the body produce new skin cells. Berries and citrus fruits, kiwis and bell peppers are all high in vitamin C.
An increase in the consumption of healthy fats will also provide added elasticity and promote healthy, glowing skin. Great choices include cold-water fish such as salmon and herring, olive oil, butter from grass-fed cows and coconut oil. Coconut oil is also a great moisturizer and can be used safely on the skin during pregnancy.