In a recent podcast on BBC Radio 4, dermatologist Dr Monty Lyman explored and explained the fascinating and prevalent connection between what we eat and the appearance and health of our skin. In today’s article I’d like to take you through some of the key points of this topic and the importance of a well-balanced diet and certain nutrients when it comes to looking after our skin’s health and appearance.
A Couple of Interesting Stories
In this podcast there were two particular stories which were rather fascinating; here is a quick summary of both:
The Fish Smell: A woman went into a GP’s as her odour was becoming a worry. She was emitting the rather unpleasant smell of fish and eggs through her sweat. A genetic report found that this was due to an absence in a certain type of bacteria in her stomach; as a result certain foods weren’t digested properly. This led to the production of a compound which is released through the skin and causes a bad odour. So what was the solution? Diet, a strict change in the woman’s food plan, with the addition of certain food containing the necessary bacteria all but eradicated her odorous issues.
Scaly Red Rashes: In early 20th century South Carolina, the population began to suffer with outbreaks of painful scaly skin, but nobody could work out why. After a few experiments with control groups, it was discovered that the outbreak wasn’t an infection, but a deficiency in niacin (Vitamin B3). Ever since then, American bread has included niacin and the problem has not resurfaced.
Dr Lyman discussed in depth the way that our food plans affect our skin and there truly are some interesting parallels between what we eat and the complexion of our skin! Science is proving that the link between our skin and our gut is substantial; an obvious example would be a skin flare up or rash due to eating something you are allergic to. Other examples related to our environments and genetics are less tangible, but evidence is being found and established to prove the parallels.
So Which Foods are Good for the Skin?
Fatty Fish: The Omega-3 fatty acids in fish keep the skin thick and moisturised; a deficiency in this nutrient can in fact cause dry skin. The fatty acids and zinc found in fish reduce inflammation and therefore can have a positive impact on redness and acne. Fatty fish is also a source of Vitamin E which helps to protect our skin against damage from inflammation, as well as free radicals.
Carrots, Spinach & Oranges: All three of these fruits and vegetables contain beta-carotene, a provitamin A, meaning that it is converted into Vitamin A once consumed. Beta-carotene helps to promote healthy skin by acting as a natural sun cream, protecting the skin’s surface from harmful UV rays, cell death and wrinkling.
Dark Chocolate: The antioxidants found in cocoa powder are naturally high in antioxidants which have been proven to help thicken and hydrate the skin. Furthermore, these antioxidants can help the skin become less scaly, less sensitive to sunburn and increase the blood flow, which in turn helps nutrients reach the skin. It is important to remember however, that you will only enjoy the benefits of these antioxidants if eating chocolate which is 70% and above cocoa, and you only need 20 grams to enjoy the benefits and avoid too much sugar. Alternatively, you could add cocoa powder to certain recipes or drinks to enjoy these benefits. Click here for some tasty and healthy chocolate recipes.
Look After Your Skin
What we eat has a huge effect on so many aspects of our appearance, how we feel and how we function. If you would like maintain healthy skin then try to regularly incorporate the above foods into your diet. Furthermore, by staying away from foods high in sugar and unsaturated fats you can help to prevent oily and spot-prone skin.
Actively add foods which promote healthy skin to your diet; cocoa powder, fatty fish and colourful fruit and vegetables
Avoid foods which are high in sugar and fats
Drink at least 2 litres of water a day and swap out tea and coffee for green tea, this will keep your skin hydrated
If you would like anymore nutritional advice on how to lead a healthier lifestyle on the inside an out, then click here, head over to my website and book yourself in for a free 30 minute discovery call!