Food for your skin

There’s a lot of information out there when it comes to our skin and our diet. We are constantly being bombarded with advice. Eat more fish; fatty acids are good for skin; retinoids are the new skincare buzz word. When it comes to what our skin wants and needs in order to, not just function, but thrive, the equation is simple. Avoid inflammatory foods such as refined sugars and load your plate with the following. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are essential nutrients in your diet as your body cannot produce them on its own – they must come from an outside source. These fatty acids help your skin produce sebum – an oily substance that helps retain moisture. Without essential fatty acids (EFAs) your skin may become irritated, inflamed and dry. Certain cooking oils, flax seeds and flax seed oil, salmon, mackerel, nuts, eggs and dark leafy vegetables including spinach and broccoli are good sources of EFAs. Selenium is an antioxidant that prevents cellular damage by protecting cell membranes, thereby slowing the progression of ageing. A trace mineral, Selenium works in combination with the likes of vitamin E, vitamin C, and zinc to support many metabolic functions in the body. It also plays a large role in healing the skin having been shown to improve inflammation and acne lesions on the skin brought on by oxidative stress. Grass-fed beef, halibut, yellowfin tuna, turkey, eggs, and chicken all contain higher concentrations of selenium, as well as plant sources including Brazil nuts and spinach. Zinc, another trace mineral, works in a similar way to an antioxidant. It protects your skin by reducing the number of free radicals that form in your body after exposure to pollution and UV rays. Zinc also helps to keep your natural inflammatory response under control during the healing process. Zinc is responsible for producing new skin cells during the healing process.[i] Good sources of zinc include grass-fed beef, lamb, chicken and cultured dairy products including yoghurt and kefir. Plant-based sources with a high zinc content include chickpeas, cashews, and pumpkin seeds. Although rare, zinc and selenium deficiencies can initially be symptomised by changes in pigmentation, dermatitis and/or other skin abnormalities.  Vitamins including A, C, and E also help to promote beautiful skin. Vitamin A derivatives, also known as retinoids, are found within more and more beauty products thanks to many published studies validating their ability to slow collagen breakdown and promote cell growth.[ii] Vitamin A has been shown to smooth skin, reduce wrinkles and eliminate blemishes. Foods high in vitamin A include carrots, kale, broccoli, eggs, sweet potatoes, and spinach. Found at high levels in the outer layers of the skin, vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that protects against harmful free radicals that age your skin. It also plays a role in collagen synthesis to provide extracellular support.[iii] Foods high in vitamin C include citrus fruits, kiwifruit, red peppers, Brussels sprouts, and blueberries. Vitamin E, also an antioxidant, is otherwise known as “the radical protector.” It helps to protect against oxidative stress caused by free radicals.[iv] Vitamin E is a natural moisturiser that can reduce facial swelling, redness, and dryness. Vitamin E-rich foods include almonds, spinach, sunflower seeds, avocado and sweet potatoes. And don’t forget, you can treat yourself to healthier skin with dark chocolate. It contains many nutrients that support skin and overall health, including zinc, selenium, antioxidants, and bioactive compounds called flavonols to improve hydration and protect against sun damage. Are you ready to eat your way to healthy, glowing, vibrant skin? [i] [ii] [iii] [iv]