It’s often touted that “you are what you eat”, and in the essence of starting from the inside out, what you put on your plate can be just as important as what you put on your skin. Despite our skin being the largest organ of our body, it is often the most neglected, particularly in the summer months where we over-expose this protective barrier to the harsh UV rays of the sun.
When it comes to searching for skin solutions, it’s all too easy to turn to the multitude of topical skin care products and ‘miracle supplements’ that line the aisles of your local supermarket or pharmacy. We’ve all been there at some point on our quest for that glowing complexion; lost between the clay masks, mud masks, activated charcoal masks, micellar water, facial serums of every type and the largest wall of supplements imaginable.
So which nutrients are important in supporting the optimum health of our skin?
Antioxidants are compounds in foods that reduce the damage caused by other undesirable compounds known as free radicals. Free radicals naturally occur in our surrounding environment, and are problematic because they contribute to cell damage in our body. Compounds such as beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin A are key antioxidants that we can find in many everyday foods. Beta-carotene (which is converted to vitamin A) can be found in orange vegetables such as carrots and sweet potato, while vitamin C is common in most of fruits and vegetables. Rich sources of vitamin E include nuts and seeds (particularly almonds and sunflower seeds), as well as avocado.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
The benefits of foods rich in omega 3’s are well reported, including the promotion of healthy skin. Oily fish such as salmon and sardines assist with reducing inflammation and encouraging the production of new surface skin cells to replace areas that may be damaged. These foods are also sources of high-quality protein, meaning that they also help to maintain the strength and integrity of your skin. Plant-based sources of omega 3 fatty acids include walnuts, chia seeds, linseeds and flaxseed oil.
An Overall Well-balanced Diet
If you consider yourself to have troublesome skin, you’ll know that your skin thrives off a routine. The same concept can be applied when considering the role of nutrition in supporting healthy skin. Eating a well-balanced diet that includes a range of foods across all five core food groups will provide your body (including your skin) will all the key nutrients it requires.
All things considered, patience is key as obvious results won’t happen overnight. It can take at least a few weeks before you notice improvements in your skin health, however putting in a continued effort towards positive dietary changes is essential if you’re serious about seeing long term results.
As always, make an appointment to see one of our Accredited Practising Dietitians who can discuss all things related to nutrition and your skin health.