Eat your way to beautiful, healthy skin

Forget about the perfect foundation, nothing looks as good as glowing skin, radiating health. The secret to beautiful skin is not found with your favourite cosmetics brand, but rather in a good, balanced diet; an essential prescription for healthy and vibrant skin.

Skin is, after all, the largest organ in the body; in an adult it weighs around 5kg and has a surface area of 22 meters squared, about the size of a double bed. No other organ in the body is exposed to as much damage or disease from the outside, like from injury, sunlight, smoking or environmental pollution. At the same time, it reflects many conditions and emotions that come from within. In fact, world renowned nutritionist and author, Patrick Holford, says that “Your skin is a barometer of your body’s health, so improving your internal systems with the right nutrition can improve both how you feel and look.”

To keep your skin well-protected and nourished, and to extend its youthful appearance, focus on these key dietary guidelines from Patrick Holford:

  1. Buy organic produce as much as possible.
  2. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate: one of the most important nutrients for the skin is water. Imagine a balloon filled with water – taut and firm to touch. Allow some of the water out and the balloon will shrink, the rubber may even become a little shrivelled. Deprive a skin cell of water and it will produce a similar result. Without adequate hydration, your cells cannot repair and regenerate – they also cannot clear waste products which build up in the cells and the blood.
  3. Eat Omega-3 rich foods: a regular supply will help the skin to stay smooth and supple. The best are sources are chia seeds, walnuts, olives and olive oil (in salads), as well as fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel and eggs.
  4. Include plenty of antioxidants in your diet: if you don’t get enough antioxidants, your skin cannot protect itself from sun damage and pollution and it is likely to become congested. Pack your grocery cupboard with colourful fruit & vegetables that include red/orange/yellow vegetables and fruits, purple foods, green foods, ‘seed’ foods such as peas or broccoli, onions, leeks and garlic.You can also stack a few bars of dark chocolate and bottles of red wine. Vitamin C is also a super antioxidant. It is needed for a strong immune system, radiant skin and helps blemishes heal properly. Holford recommends taking a daily multivitamin with at least 1000mg of good quality Vitamin C.
  5. Go for low-GL foods: eat plenty of beans, pulses and other slow-releasing carbohydrates. These release sugar into the blood stream gradually, providing you with a steady supply of energy and leaving you feeling satisfied for longer and therefore less likely to snack on sugary foods. Avoid sugar and sugary foods like biscuits, jams, cakes and cold drinks, as they lead to the production of insulin, which may damage collagen and accelerate wrinkles.

Limit your intake of: Alcohol – or avoid it completely. Tea and coffee, red meat and dairy products like cheese and milk – certain hormones in dairy may stimulate the overproduction of oil in skin cells, which can lead to pimple-causing clogged pores. It is also important to cut out fried and fatty foods and processed foods because of the chemical, trans and hydrogenated fats found in them. Quit smoking!