Many people are interested to learn how they can improve the health and appearance of their skin through good nutrition. It can help to keep it supple and flexible as well as addressing some of the common skin problems that due to their appearance can affect an individuals self confidence.
The skin is the largest organ of the body, and is a major route of elimination of toxins. The outer layer is protective to our bodies, keeping out unwanted substances. The inner layer of skin, the dermis, is made up of connective tissues and where collagen is stored. Collagen keeps the skin elastic and younger looking and is dependent on Vitamin C for its formation. Good sources of dietary vitamin C can be found in citrus fruits, tomatoes, kiwi fruit, peppers and sweet potatoes. Foods high in the amino acids lysine and proline may also improve collagen formation and can be found in lean meats and lentils.
Gastrointestinal health can have a large bearing on skin conditions such as rosacea and therefore probiotics and supplements that help to heal the gut lining, restore beneficial microflora and increase gastric acid output may be of benefit. Avoiding alcohol, coffee and spicy foods may also reduce symptoms and B vitamin supplementation has been known to benefit individuals with rosacea and acne.
Acne is linked to sebum production and if it’s too high it encourages acne and spots. Vitamin A can be beneficial in helping to control sebum production. Good sources of Vitamin A are eggs, liver, carrots, sweet potato, squash, broccoli and avocado. Eliminating refined foods such as white bread and sugary foods may also benefit acne sufferers.
‘Good fats’ are important for healthy skin, they provide lubrication and ensure healthy cell membranes so it can hold water and nutrients, keeping it plump and younger looking. These fats can be beneficial for skin conditions such as eczema, acne, rosacea and hives, also having additional anti-inflammatory properties. Ensure a supply of good fats in your diet from oily fish, flax seed oil, nuts and seeds. Ovoid over eating saturated fats from foods such as red meat; they also have a pro-inflammatory affect on the body.
Biotin is also required in order to derive the fats that are needed for our cells; therefore a deficiency may cause dry and flaky skin. Biotin comes from foods such as eggs, fish, liver, nuts, soya products, sweet potatoes and tomatoes. It can also be produced from the beneficial bacteria of probiotics.
Vitamin E is beneficial to the skin and keeps it plump. Dietary sources can be found in foods such as fish, nuts, avocado, seeds and their oils. Zinc is also an important nutrient in the healing of the skin and has antioxidant properties. Good sources can be found in meat, liver, eggs, seafood, beans, nuts and seeds.
Hydration is extremely important for the skin, therefore increase your water intake to at least 2 litres per day. Too much stress is also detrimental to most skin conditions, so reduce it wherever possible.
Skin cells are constantly being replaced and take 4 weeks for new cells to appear, therefore the positive effects of any dietary and lifestyle changes may not be seen until that time.
This is a broad overview of skin health, but if you would like individual help then please contact one of our fully qualified nutritional therapists who will be happy to assist.
Marber, I. (2008) The Food Doctor: Super Eating. London: Quadrille Publishing Ltd
Murray, M. T. and Pizzorno, J.E. (1998) Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine. 2nd ed. New York: Three Rivers Press.
Nicolle, L. and Woodriff Beirne, A. (2010) Biochemical Imbalances in Disease. London: Singing Dragon.