Skin Health: How Your Diet Can Affect Your Skin
Your skin is your body’s largest organ and needs to be treated with the utmost care, before you even start looking at cosmetic solutions for good skin health, you need to ensure the these three main factors have been taken into consideration: Diet, sun exposure, and lifestyle habits. In this article, we’re going to take a deeper look at diet and get a better understanding for what a ‘healthy diet for your skin’ really means.
Now there are probably two factors about health and beauty you’re probably quite well aware of: Firstly, good quality cosmetic products and treatments are important for your skin health. And secondly, that a nutritious and wholesome diet is imperative for good overall health. While this is absolutely true, the fundamentals of good skincare actually start what you put into your body to nourish your skin internally – your diet.
The expression, “you are what you eat,” never gets old and that’s because it’s pretty factual. Not only can your diet determine your overall wellbeing, it can determine your skin health as well. If you’re not very healthy the warning signs start to appear on your skin first. For example, a common rash (known as Dermatitis Herpetiformis) often presents itself on the arms, back and abdomen of those who are gluten intolerant. (1)
Eating for good skin health
So what nutrients does your body need to be taking in so that your skin can look and feel the best that it can? Let’s take a look:
1. Fatty fish such as salmon, trout and mackerel, are packed with omega-3 fatty acids which are crucial fats our bodies need to moisturize our skin and reduce inflammation caused by skin conditions or sun damage. Fatty fish also contain Vitamin E, which is an important antioxidant for your skin and zinc, which helps your body generate healthy, new skin cells all the time. (2)
2. Nuts and seeds can be a fantastic source of essential fatty acids as well. However, you need to stick to ones that are higher in omega-3 than omega-6. Go for options such as: Chia seeds, flax seeds, and walnuts.
3. Tomatoes have a particular phytonutrient, lycopene, which is high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory components that can help protect your skin from UV induced damage, stimulate collagen production, and help clear your skin from any toxic build-up it experiences. (3)
4. Sweet potatoes are packed with a phytonutrient called beta-carotene that converts to Vitamin A in the body and can act like as a natural sunblock, as it protects your skin cells from the UV rays. Before you get too excited – this doesn’t mean you can stop using sunblock every day, it’s just a fantastic add-on. Other veggies high in beta-carotene include carrots and spinach. (4)
5. Green tea isn’t just good for a natural caffeine boost, it’s also contains powerful antioxidants such as polyphenols and catechins that are, once again, fantastic for protecting your skin against UV damage, boosting circulation and in result improve skin elasticity and moisture levels. (5)
6. Dark chocolate lovers, this is going to make you very happy. Dark chocolates main ingredient, cocoa powder, it yet another natural ingredient that’s filled with antioxidants your skin needs. However, this doesn’t mean you can start eating as much chocolate as you want, you need to stick to a dark chocolate that has a 70% cocoa content or higher and is preferably made with a healthy sugar alternative, such as stevia. (6)
7. Red wine is something else you may not have expected to be part of this list. But this isn’t a joke, one glass of red wine a day can do wonders for your skin as it contains the polyphenolic antioxidant resveratrol that, much like the others we have discussed in this article, can sweep up free radical damage and give your natural collagen production a boost. Cheers! (7)
What to avoid
Not all foods are created equally, and there are definitely some ingredients you should be avoiding in order to protect your skin. try to keep these following ingredients to a minimum:
1. Refined sugars are definitely something you should avoid to protect your skin health as they cause your insulin levels to spike and trigger an inflammatory response throughout your body that can make the collagen and elastin fibres in your skin break down. Stay clear of foods such as sweets, ice-cream, pastries and cool drinks to keep your skin healthy and happy. (8)
2. Salt can be useful for your skin in a circulation-boosting salt scrub, but when you’re taking it all in through your diet – it’s not so good anymore. Salt absorbs moisture, meaning it can cause water retention and swelling within your body and it will start to show in areas such as underneath your eyes, given the skin is much thinner and prone to inflammation. (9)
3. Alcohol is another one to avoid (besides your glass of red wine every now and then) as it both causes inflammation and dehydration, which can result in skin concerns such as wrinkling, sagging and enlarged pores. (10)