How does diet affect the skin?
“You are what you eat” may be a saying that’s easily thrown around – but it’s actually truer than you might think. Though a person’s size and weight can’t always reveal their healthy habits, you can tell a lot about a person’s overall health and wellbeing through the condition of their skin.
Maintaining a consistent skincare routine that utilises a potent mix of anti-agers to reverse as well as prevent damage is key to having a youthful, radiant complexion. However, what we put into our bodies can have a significant effect on our hormones and inflammation, both of which contribute to breakouts and signs of ageing.
So, to help you give your complexion a boost, Dr Sophie Shotter discusses the importance of taking a holistic approach to skin health as well as the foods to banish from your diet for good.
According to Dr Shotter, there’s a significant relationship between acne and dairy consumption. “If one of my patients is struggling with resistant acne, cutting back on dairy will be one of the first things I recommend trying.”
Dairy promotes increased blood levels of androgen, which leads to excess oil production and increased potential for breakouts. Dr Shotter recommends reaching for dairy alternatives, such as almond milk and vegan cheese, to see if they make a difference.
Sugar ages the skin faster than anything except smoking and sunbathing, thanks to a process called glycation, which results in a hardening of the collagen fibres that help keep your skin strong. Sugar binds to the proteins in our skin and makes them more brittle until, eventually, they break. “People who eat a lot of sugar are prone to dry skin that ages prematurely and they may develop a loss of elasticity and significant fine lines and wrinkles as a result. High sugar consumption is something that I would urge anyone who cares about their skin to think twice about.” Dr Sophie explains.
Seek out foods that contain zinc, to help reduce inflammation. Cashews, avocados, blackberries, and raspberries are all tasty options to try. But, if you do get a sweet craving, try to eat dark chocolate – it contains zinc and antioxidants that help fight sun damage.
Dehydration takes the moisture out of all your body’s systems – skin included. If you’re regularly experiencing dry patches or flaky skin, you likely need to be drinking more water and consuming more hydrating foods. Dr Sophie recommends eight glasses of filtered water a day where possible. Incorporating water-rich foods such as watermelon, cucumber and lettuce into your diet can also make a huge difference.
Too many fatty foods may result in dull, puffy skin and dark under-eye circles. As well, the salt found in foods such as chips, popcorn, and crisps cause your skin to retain water, which makes you puffy and bloated. If you’re craving a salty crunch opt for nuts – most contain vitamins and minerals such as selenium, vitamin E, copper, magnesium, potassium and iron, which are all essential for healthy skin.
Many people have food intolerances without even knowing it. Common intolerances are gluten and dairy, but actually, any food can instigate some digestive sensitivity. When you’re intolerant to a particular food, it can cause redness and inflammation – sometimes revealed through a flushed, red tint on your face. Dr Shotter recommends consulting an allergy specialist if you’re concerned.
Disclaimer: Please be aware that results and benefits may vary from patient to patient taking into consideration factors such as age, lifestyle and medical history.