can diet impact skin health

Can your diet impact your skin health?

The short answer is yes! Some people are blessed with perfect skin; however, most are not. This blog gives some top tips on how your diet can improve long term skin health.

Intrinsic and Extrinsic effects on skin health / ageing

Skin health and ageing is affected in 2 ways; intrinsic and extrinsic.

Intrinsic factors are basically genetics which play a role in the way that we age; if you look at your parents and grandparents you may notice patterns and similarities in their ageing processes.

Extrinsic factors are the things you have control over; smoking, diet, air pollution, alcohol, drugs, stress, sleep and UV radiation can all accelerate the ageing process and negatively impact both general health as well as skin health.

How do Extrinsic Factors affect my skin health?

You may have heard of free radicals which in simple terms are unstable, damaged oxygen molecules. Free radicals can lead to skin damage including cancer, inflammation and premature skin ageing.

It is the external factors mentioned above (smoking, poor diet, air pollution, alcohol, drugs, stress, sleep and UV radiation) that can cause and increase free radical formation.

Unfortunately, it is also a natural part of the ageing process that free radical formation increases, and the body’s natural defence system decreases.

Luckily there are things you can do to help protect your body against free radicals including reducing your exposure to the external factors mentioned above as well as increasing your antioxidant intake both topically and internally.

How can antioxidants help with skin health?

Antioxidants are powerful tools for reducing and neutralising free radicals so reduce damage to organs, cells and skin.

They can’t undo existing damage unfortunately but can help prevent future damage.

Vitamin C however, is the one exception to this rule as it is the only antioxidant able to “turn back the time” and treat fine lines and wrinkles because it helps repair and create collagen in the skin (not because of its antioxidant properties). It also helps to fade dark spots and protect us from the sun’s rays.

If you would like to read a little more about the benefits of topical Vitamin C, please read my blog post on ‘What should I be looking for in a skincare product’.

Nutrition for skin health

Good nutrition is a major player to benefit general health as well as skin health.

Different food groups can help in various ways:

Vitamin A

Vitamin A – also known as retinols, help to reduce the breakdown of collagen in our skin, help fade dark spots and increase the cell turnover of dead skin cells. It is also beneficial for acne sufferers as it helps to reduce oil production levels in the skin.

Foods rich in Vitamin A include beef liver, meat, poultry, eggs, leafy greens, carrots, squash, broccoli, spinach, mangoes, cantaloupes.

Vitamin D

Vitamin is a potent antioxidant. It is not only great for bone, teeth and muscle health but also plays a significant role in treating dry skin, eczema and psoriasis as well as reducing potential skin changes which occur with age.

Foods rich in Vitamin D include cod, fatty fish like wild salmon, sardines, eggs and mushrooms.

Polyphenols

Polyphenols are micronutrients – they are anti-inflammatory and can be packed with antioxidants depending on which ones you consume; they also help protect the skin from the sun damage and certain skin damage. It is also thought that they can help improve digestion issues, weight management.

Polyphenol food sources include certain vegetables, tea coffee, and red wine.

Antioxidants

As already mentioned, antioxidants are exceptionally good for skin health.

Antioxidant food sources include:

Berries

  • Blackcurrant
  • Blackberry
  • Blueberry
  • Strawberry

Other Fruits

  • Clementine
  • Grapefruit
  • Orange
  • Lemon
  • Dates
  • Grape
  • Kiwi
  • Pineapple
  • Plum
  • Pomegranate

Vegetables

  • Artichoke
  • Red cabbage
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Chilli pepper
  • Parsley
  • Pepper

Beans

  • Ground nuts
  • Broad beans

Roots / Tubers

  • Red beets
  • Ginger

Nuts, Seeds, Dried Fruits

  • Sunflower seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Dried apricot
  • Dried prunes

Grains

  • Barley
  • Oats
  • Buckwheat (although often not classed as a grain at all)

Try to avoid too many of the insulin spiking sources of antioxidants like dried fruit and pineapple as insulin spikes will accelerate the ageing process.

Supplementing your diet

Nutritional supplements can give added nutrients to what we consume through our food intake. Farming processes have changed over the years and there is much speculation that food sources aren’t as nutrient dense as they were a mere few years ago.

We also have to remember that what we eat doesn’t necessarily equate to the amount of nutrients our body absorbs. Everyone’s body breaks down nutrients to different levels, some being more effective than others. One person may only be able to absorb 50% of the nutrients they consume whereas another person eating the same foods and quantities may be able to absorb 70%.

I personally take nutritional supplements which include a multi vit, digestive enzymes, pre & pro biotics, greens powder which is a broad spectrum of alkaline forming whole fruit and vegetables in a powder form as it gives me additional antioxidants, phytonutrients and fibre. I also take a collagen powder and a separate vegan collagen builder; it was my hairdresser that noticed the difference from taking my vegan collagen builder as she said my hair felt thicker!

Additional Advice

Although I’m based in the Marlow, Buckinghamshire for face to face consultations, I now offer online skincare consultations with product delivery direct to your house. This is within the UK as well as various overseas countries including Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Poland. All skincare products come with a 45-day money back guarantee.

If you would like to chat in more detail about skin care in general or specific product advice, please contact me for a virtual consultation using the form below.

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