The good skin diet: what to eat for that inner glow
To have smooth, dewy skin is a dream for many (us included). But how many times have you layered on yet another hydrating product, filled with the promise of that unattainable glow, and failed to see much of a difference? Overnight face masks, moisturisers for day and night, serums, face mists, toners, essences, oils… there are so many steps to various skincare routines from around the world, all touting the best results.
But you have to remember that none of these surface products will show their full strength if you don’t take care of your skin from the inside out. So we’ve teamed up with nutritional therapist and nutritionist Fiona Lawson to explain what to eat and what to avoid in order to reach the ultimate radiant skin goals:
What should you focus on?
Think of your cells as little balloons. If they’re only filled with a small volume of water, they’re more likely to be saggy and even a bit wrinkly. If, however, they’re full of water, they’re taut, firm and plump — which is exactly what you want your skin to be. Aim to drink a minimum of two litres of water each day, or more if you’re especially active.
Consuming adequate amounts of good and essential fats — from olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds — helps to create strong yet flexible cell membranes. This, in turn, helps your cells to retain all that water you’ve drunk, leading to smooth and supple skin. Get into the habit of enjoying a little good fat with every meal, such as a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil on your salad or a few nuts sprinkled on your porridge.
Organic fruit and vegetables
Your skin is subject to a host of assaults: pollution, smoke, UV rays, chlorine in water, and even extreme heat or cold. Together, these add up to create oxidative stress. Antioxidants, found in colourful fruit and vegetables, help to neutralise this stress and thus prevent damage to skin.
The health of your skin is intrinsically linked to that of your gut. The correct level of good bacteria will support a clear, radiant complexion, while too many of the bad guys (both bacteria and fungi) can contribute to a whole host of issues, including eczema and acne. The best way to boost your good bacteria is to eat a range of fermented foods. These include sauerkraut, kefir (fermented milk) and good, old-fashioned natural yoghurt.
Read more: 5 fermented, gut healing foods
This is also an antioxidant, but it deserves its own special mention when it comes to skin health. Vitamin C plays a crucial role in the development of collagen, which keeps skin firm, and elastin, which keeps it supple. Most people think oranges are rich in vitamin C, but actually peppers, dark leafy greens and Brussels sprouts (sorry!) are some of the best sources.
What should you have less of?
Study after study shows that a high sugar intake can wreak havoc on skin, exacerbating everything from acne to ageing. Pay attention to the hidden and/or unnecessary sugar in food: sweet drinks, packaged goods and ready meals are prime culprits.
Read more: Sugar tax: 5 simple ways to cut down
Alcohol is dehydrating and places a heavy detoxification demand on the body, ultimately making your skin suffer. It can also increase the risk of rosacea (chronic inflammation of the skin) in women. When drinking, a simple yet effective tactic for reducing your intake is to alternate every alcoholic beverage with a glass of water.
High levels of caffeine increase your output of the stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol raises another hormone, insulin — which can cause skin to produce excess oil and turn over skin cells too quickly, leading to congestion. Aim to enjoy just one cup of coffee per day. If you fancy the comfort of a hot drink after that, opt for antioxidant-rich green tea.