Skin food: eating for beautiful skin
Updated: Aug 18
Throughout history, people have desired healthy, glowing skin. Ancient cultures made balms and lotions to plump up and enhance the look of their skin. Glowing skin makes us look healthy and vital, and feel attractive.
The beauty industry in Australia is currently worth $6.5 billion. This spending is on creams, lotions and make up. Much less emphasis and education is about the foods we eat and how they can make our skin look younger or older, softer or plumper, better or worse.
You've probably heard that beauty starts on the inside. Whoever said that was talking about having a kind heart and a generous soul. But being healthy inside your gut and consuming a variety of healthy foods can also help you to look beautiful from the inside. The right combination of foods can help your skin to glow and come alive.
I've put together a guide for common skin conditions and the types of foods that you might like to eat to assist your skin.
Skin is made of 3 layers. The topmost layer protects the body from high or low temperatures, infections, chemicals and sunlight. Skin allows us to touch and to feel. Skin cells are continually being remade. The nutrients that you eat today will affect the health and look of your skin in roughly 28 days time because todays nutrients are used to create new skin cells that grow and develop and eventually move to the surface.
There are many nutrients needed for healthy skin and these nutrients must come from our food, not from lotions or creams.
Essential nutrients for skin health are proteins, fats, B vitamins, vitamins A, C and E and the mineral zinc. To ensure that you consume these nutrients, concentrate on daily consumption of foods such as avocado, green vegetables, lentils and beans, eggs, mushrooms, oranges, sweet potato, carrots, broccoli, asparagus, seeds, meats and seafood.
When you have acne:
As well as a diet high in the previously mentioned nutrients, people with acne can benefit from some additional dietary habits. Acne sufferers will see rewards from cutting back on refined sugar and processed foods which cause blood sugar fluctuations, sugar cravings and changes to the digestive microbiome.
Eating protein and healthy fats with each meal can balance out blood sugar fluctuations and stop the sugar cravings that lead to poor food choices and acne.
Foods to support liver function can assist in detoxification and promote skin health, so make sure to eat your cruciferous vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale and brussel sprouts.
Dermatitis and eczema
People with dermatitis or eczema will often have underlying digestive concerns. Food intolerances can be a reason for skin flares, as can stress and the affect of stress on the digestive system.
All of the previous advice about nutrition for skin can benefit dermatitis, as can keeping a food diary and trialling an elimination diet to discover any foods that are compromising the digestive system and leading to skin eruptions. Dairy products and gluten containing foods are often, but not always, foods that contribute to dermatitis and eczema.
People with dermatitis can additionally benefit from introducing foods to heal both the gut and the skin. A naturopath will be able to help you with this while also gently providing support to the skin and digestive system.
Psoriasis is an auto-immune condition where skin cells build up and cause redness, itching and scaling. Psoriasis is often exacerbated by stress, such as work pressures or exams.
Because psoriasis has both auto-immune and stress component, foods recommended for psoriasis suffers include many of the above foods as well as foods and herbal medicines to support the immune system, and the nervous system response to stress. Seeking help from a naturopath can help to improve this condition.
Love your skin, consider your health
The chemicals from every lotion, cream or balm you put on your skin can be absorbed through your skin into your blood stream and then circulate around your body. Check the contents to make sure your skin care products are free from cheap preservatives, fragrances and endocrine disrupting chemicals.
Remember: the food you put in your body affects your skin, and what you put on your skin affects your health!
Lastly, don't forget to drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated.
I am a naturopath, nutritionist, herbalist and certified wellness coach.
I welcome clients to my clinic in Surry Hills, Sydney. I also work online with clients Australia wide.
This blog contains information from my Bachelor of Health Science degree, continuing research, and from experience gained from working with men and women in my clinic.
The blog is not intended as individual health advice and you should seek assistance for medical conditions. Herbs do not replace medications prescribed by your doctor.