Eat your way to amazing skin?
In an age where everything seems to be about looking good, not feeling confident about the skin you’re in can have a really negative impact on how you experience your life.
There’s a huge amount you can do to keep your skin looking healthy and fresh by making some changes to the way you eat – and I don’t mean overly restricting the foods you love or going on a juice cleanse.
I tend to get asked about 4 specific skin problem areas
Acne is a very common problem and many women are alarmed by a return of hormonal acne in their 40s.
There are four main causes
- increased turnover of skin cells
- excess sebum production (one big trigger is hormone imbalance)
- inflammatory response
Some areas to consider here are how well your body detoxifies toxins and hormones, rebalancing hormones, digestive health, avoiding grains or dairy, and addressing any nutrient deficiencies.
Rosacea is a condition that appears as red patches on the nose, cheeks, chin or forehead. It looks a bit like acne and can be very painful. No one really understands what causes it, although there are links to increased blood flow to the skin – you’re more likely to have rosacea if you’re fair-skinned and blush easily.
Common nutritional approaches to help with this include identifying food intolerances or other trigger foods as foods high in histamine can be a problem.
If you suffer with psoriasis, it’s because your skin cells turn over much quicker than usual. This leads to an accumulation of skin cells on the surface of the skin; a psoriatic plaque that appears as raised patches covered with silvery scales. It’s actually an autoimmune condition and as a sufferer you may also have digestive problems due to increased intestinal permeability (or ‘leaky gut’). Autoimmune conditions can be quite complex to unravel, but you may get some relief by going gluten-free and avoiding vegetables from the nightshade family, like potatoes, tomatoes, aubergines, peppers, and chillies and eating plenty of anti-inflammatory omega-3 foods like oily fish, flax and chia seeds.
With eczema sufferers, the skin fails to produce the necessary amounts of fats and oils, and it is less able to retain water. You might notice itchy patches on the hands, elbows, and in the “bending” areas of the body. Eczema is often a sign of a ‘leaky gut’, a condition where undigested foods and bacteria end up passing through the gut lining into the bloodstream. These toxic substances result in inflammation. One way to deal with this is to remove triggers that make inflammation worse – such as gluten, sugar and dairy – from your diet
Help is at hand… here are a few easy tips to help your skin start to glow again
Ditch the bad guys
Alcohol, caffeine, food additives like flavourings and colourings, salt, sugar, and tobacco are full of cell-damaging free radicals, which play havoc with your skin. Ideally, cut them out altogether but certainly reduce them as much as you can.
Essential fats found in fish, avocados, nuts and seeds keep cell membranes soft and smooth – they’re nature’s perfect skin plumpers. Just in case the word ‘fat’ sends a red flag up for you, I want to reassure you that scientists have finally admitted all that’ fat is bad for you and makes you fat’ propaganda was flawed. Eating the right fat is not only not bad, it is really, truly GOOD for your health.
Eat back the clock
Stock up on antioxidant-rich fruit and veg. These are crucial for your entire body – not just your skin. They reduce the speed of skin aging and degeneration. Eat them raw or lightly steamed as cooking for long periods destroys enzymes, minerals and vitamins and can create skin-damaging free radicals. A couple of simple exercises are these: make a concerted effort to add at least one extra portion of veg every night this week to your evening meal. You should also aim to ‘eat a rainbow’ over the course of the week – that means picking as many different colours of fruit and veg as you can.
As a very general rule, each different colour group contains a different set of plant chemicals. Scientists now know that bringing a variety of different antioxidants into your diet has a synergistic effect, which means the combined result is more powerful than the individual parts.
Keep skin cells plump and full or your skin will look shrivelled and dehydrated – a long cry from that radiant glow you’re going for. Cells also need water to rebuild and to remove the build up of waste products (toxins). It’s a very simple (and free) step that most people don’t prioritise and yet the results and be striking. Aim for at least 2-3 litres a day depending on weather conditions and your level of exercise. You’ll soon see the benefit for you skin.
Helpful nutrients for skin health
Vitamin C for collagen production. Foods to include: blackcurrants, red peppers, kale, collard leaves, broccoli, kiwis, oranges, courgettes, cauliflower and spinach, citrus fruit.
Vitamins A, C, E and selenium are antioxidants that limit the damage done to collagen and elastin fibres by free radicals. Foods to include (aside from the vitamin C foods, above, and the vitamin A foods, below): sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach, swiss chard, papaya, mustard greens, asparagus, peppers, Brazil nuts, fresh tuna, some meats including pork, beef, turkey and chicken, cottage cheese, eggs, brown rice, sunflower seeds, spinach, oats, mushrooms.
Vitamin A helps control the rate of keratin. A lack of vitamin A can result in dry, rough skin. Foods to include: sweet potato, carrots, butternut squash, spinach, kale, collard greens, turnip greens, romaine lettuce.
Skin cells produce a chemical that is converted into vitamin D in sunlight. It’s important for many functions in the body, including immunity, blood sugar balance and bone health. It’s hard to get enough vitamin D from food alone, but too try to include more sardines, salmon, tuna, swordfish, eggs, orange juice, and fortified margarine, fortified cereals – and don’t forget a daily dose of getting out into the sun!
Zinc for the production of skin cells. A lack of zinc can result in poor skin healing, eczema and rashes. Foods to include: venison, fish, ginger root, lamb, lean beef, turkey, green vegetables, oats, nuts, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, yoghurt, scallops.
Essential fats for making cell membranes. A lack of essential fats causes cells to dry out too quickly, resulting in dry skin. Foods to include: oily fish (salmon, sardines, halibut, scallops), flaxseed, walnuts, soya beans, tofu.
A standard good multivitamin can be supplemented with extra antioxidants and some essential fatty acids. But don’t forget that individual conditions will require specific supplementation.
Watch what you put on your body, too
The skin is the largest organ in the body with a surface area about the size of a double bed. It soaks everything up you put on it, and what soaks in ends up in your blood stream. So if your shampoo and conditioner or shower gel (all of which wash over you as you shower), or your body lotions or creams contain nasty chemicals like parabens or sodium lauryl/laureth sulplate, you are feeding yourself synthetic oestrogens that can wreak havoc with your hormones.
Check labels for ingredients – often they may be marked as paraben-free.
If this blog has got you thinking more about your skin and general health, I would be delighted to talk to you about how I can help.
A targeted nutrition plan can work wonders for skin problems like acne, eczema, and psoriasis. Nothing beats a personalised consultation to get the results you are looking for, especially if you’ve been struggling for a while.
Check out the link below for a free 20 minute consultation or send me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org