The best skincare doesn’t always take the form of in-clinic treatments, beauty devices, lotions and potions. What most don’t realise is that we can influence the ageing process of our skin with the food we eat? It would make sense, given how much our diet can impact our other organs, that nutrition and complexion were in some way linked. After consulting the experts, we’ve collated a selection of dietary dos and don’ts which may help you work towards a glowing complexion for a Summer of events.
- Eat oily fish. The fact that Omega-3 fatty acids are good for you will be no surprise to anyone reading this, we are forever being told of the wonders they can do for our brain health. Well, research has found that a deficiency in these acids can also lead to dry skin, which increases the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. If you’re unsure how to get enough Omega-3 fatty acids into your diet, for instance if you don’t eat fish, there are plenty of supplements on offer.
- Eat dark chocolate. Yep, we said it. It’s loaded with flavanols which are believed to increase blood flow to the skin. Increased blood around the skin makes us appear smoother and decreases the risk of sagging. Cocoa has also been found to have a vast influence on UV protection — high-oxidant dark chocolate can help to protect your skin against UV radiation, although of course this doesn’t mean you can forget about SPF.
- Eat avocados. The instagram-fuelled ‘brunch’ trend may be far more healthy for us than anticipated. They’re a great source of vitamin E, which is a valuable anti-oxidant, meaning it protects your skin from oxidative damage. Vitamin E is a little more tricky to fit into a normal diet, so the source is pretty valuable. Other foods which provide us with adequate levels of vitamin E are nuts and vegetable oils.
- Eat walnuts. They contain a good balance of fats, which means that they may help to fight the inflammatory effects of too much omega-6. 28 grams of walnuts also contain 6% of the recommended daily intake (RDI) of zinc. Zinc is a magnificent bodily force when it comes to skin rejuvenation and wound healing, as well as combatting bacteria. Not only this, but they also contain small levels of vitamin C, which is essential for your body’s creation of collagen and the absorption of all that vitamin E you’re getting from your avocados.
- Eat cucumber sticks. These moist, green humous-shovelling vessels are rich in silica, a key mineral that many people lack in their diet. Silica plays an important role in strengthening connective tissues in the skin, preventing sagging and averting the deeper wrinkles. The high water content of cucumbers also helps hydrate and plump the skin, making it appear more youthful.
- Consume refined sugar and fried meats. Studies have shown that these can help slow down ‘glycation’, a process that weakens collagen fibres, exacerbating wrinkles and other signs of ageing.
- Presume you’re getting enough vitamin D from the sun all year round. You should be getting around 15 minutes of sun every day (whilst protected with SPF) to promote healthy skin cells. You can take vitamin D as a supplement to encourage healthy skin if you’re not attaining enough from sun exposure.
- Eat too much cheese. We know, it’s difficult to know when to stop if there’s a cheese board in front of you, especially when someone brings out the chutney. However, large amounts of dairy products can be extremely bad for our skin. Dairy and non-organic meat and poultry can change the hormonal balance in your body, because they may contain hormones and antibiotics. Patients with troubled skin are often advised by medical professionals to avoid milk, cheese, ice cream and non-organic meats. Why not try soy products as a substitute in the lead up to a big event? The collagen-boosting power of soy helps to smooth lines, keep pores clear and reduce puffiness.
In short, if you’re eating a nutrient-rich and varied diet you’re on your way to healthier-looking skin, explains skin expert and Clinical Training Manager Jennifer Scragg;
“What we put into our bodies really does impact our skin. Lack of nutrition can contribute to skin ageing, breakouts and leave us with dull looking lack-lustre skin. Having a healthy, balanced diet gives the body what it needs to function properly, regulate itself and keep going. Antioxidants, vitamins and various minerals all help cells regulate and stops the breakdown of collagen and elastin, which in turn helps the skin stay firm and supple.”
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