Everyone has a favourite face cream or treatment, but beautiful skin starts with nourishment from within. Older cells are constantly shed and replaced by younger ones and a steady supply of key nutrients is essential to support this rapid growth. Eat the correct balance of foods and you’ll feed your skin the vital nutrients it needs to help it stay soft, supple and blemish-free.
Read on for 10 top tips on eating your way to glowing skin…
TOP 5 THE BEST FOODS FOR THE SKIN
Salmon is rich in antioxidants that calm inflammation, says Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. “The free fatty acids serve as building blocks for healthy skin cells.”
How, exactly? “Since our bodies don’t have the ability to produce the fatty acids, [eating them] helps reinforce your skin’s barrier, and keeps moisture in and irritants out,” adds Dr. Leslie Baumann, certified board dermatologist and Founder of Baumann Cosmetic & Research Institute. She recommends eating wild salmon over farm-raised for an optimal dose of omega-3s.
Yes, that’s right, chocolate is on the list. Dark chocolate is great for skin firming, says Papantoniou. “It also has flavonols, which is a very potent antioxidant.” But be sure to avoid any chocolate less than 70 percent cacao. “Look for high cacao concentrations because these have less sugar, which can be terrible for your skin,” suggests Baumann.
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats – the types found in avocados, oily fish, nuts and seeds – provide essential fatty acids which act as a natural moisturiser for your skin, keeping it supple and improving elasticity. These fats also come packaged with a healthy dose of vitamin E (a vitamin many of us lack), which will help protect against free radical damage.
Selenium is a powerful antioxidant. It works alongside other antioxidants such as vitamins E and C and is essential to support the immune system. Studies suggest that a selenium-rich diet can help to protect against skin cancer, sun damage and age spots. One way to boost your intake is to eat Brazil nuts. Just four nuts will provide the recommended daily amount (RDA). Mix Brazil nuts with other seeds rich in vitamin E as a snack or salad sprinkle. Other good sources are fish, shellfish, eggs, wheatgerm, tomatoes and broccoli.
Drink six to eight glasses of water a day. Skin needs moisture to stay flexible. Even mild dehydration will cause your skin to look dry, tired and slightly grey. Drink six to eight glasses of water a day – all fluids count towards your daily allowance, but water is the best. If you work in an office, keep a large bottle of water on your desk to remind you to drink. Herbal, caffeine-free teas are good too. Don’t forget that some fruit and vegetables, such as watermelon, courgette and cucumber, also contribute fluids – the added benefit is that the minerals they contain will increase the rate you hydrate your body and skin. Try to avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption as both can age the skin.
TOP 5 WORST FOODS FOR THE SKIN
Bananas are actually sugar bombs in disguise! One banana contains about three teaspoons of fructose (sugar) per 100 grams, or roughly the equivalent to half a Hershey’s milk chocolate bar (43 grams).
If you must go bananas, try boosting the nutritional value by adding a nut butter for a protein hit — and eat only half to limit unneeded sugar. And a not-so-ripe banana also has less sugar, so factor that into the equation if you go bananas for the fruit.
Americans consume an average of 22 teaspoons of sugar per day—roughly three times the recommended amount. Most come from hidden sources of sugar, and one of the biggest culprits is smoothies. But it’s not the natural sugar found in fruit that’s the problem. Store-bought bottled smoothie versions or made-to-order options from chains may include juice, frozen yogurt, or even sherbet in the recipes, all of which are packed with added sugar. If you’re making them at home and using only good-for-you ingredients like unsweetened nut milk or yogurt, you’re safe from the sugar bomb.
Not only is junk food high in saturated fats, salt and processed ingredients that leave your skin dull and acne prone, junk food hits you like a ton of bricks. It saps your energy and leaves you feeling sluggish.
As your body’s largest organ, your skin will take the brunt of the punishment as you indulge on junk. Breakouts, redness and oily complexion are just some ways your body will protest.
What do you do if you succumb to a stress-induced moment of junk food indulgence though? Try counteracting your cravings and helping your body speed up the purge by upping your water intake and noshing on nutritious, antioxidant rich foods like berries and protein. Flush out the toxins and your skin will return quicker to the soft, supple dewiness you remember.
Remember the ‘80s tagline: “Milk, it does a body good”? Well, it turns out this is true… if you’re a baby cow.
One of the most dramatic ways to attain youthful, glowing skin free of inflammation and breakouts is by ditching dairy. Hormones in milk can speed up ageing and cause a whole host of other skin problems. Dairy is highly inflammatory and can cause flare ups in acne, rosacea, and rashes.
To test your skin’s sensitivity to dairy, you’ll have to go off it for 12 weeks — that’s the lifespan of a typical skin cell so to really gauge any improvement to your complexion and skin vibrancy, you’ll have to be dairy-free to allow skin’s healing and cleansing to take place.
If you’re worried about reaching your daily calcium intake, substitute with coconut milk, almond milk and oat milk, which are fortified with calcium and other minerals. Sardines, leafy greens like kale, broccoli, and nuts like almonds are also packed full of calcium.
Candy (made with refined white sugar) makes the body work a lot harder than it normally does, pumping insulin to lower blood sugar and promoting free radical damage. All of this extra work can show up on your skin, leading to breakouts, dullness and eventually, wrinkles. Satisfy your sweet tooth while feed your skin the nutrients it needs with a vibrant fruit salad instead.