A journalist recently asked me what my top 5 diet tips are for anyone wanting better skin. Here’s what I told her…
- Cut back on the sweet stuff – sugar is one of the biggest causes of acne and it makes eczema worse (it also causes wrinkles and premature ageing!) Think of sugar as the anti-fountain of youth! Limit your intake of white table sugar, read food labels and avoid those foods and drinks that contain refined sugars like high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, glucose, maltose, sucrose and corn and rice syrup and limit white carbs like bread, bagels, pastries, white pasta etc. Also watch your intake of grains (even wholegrains). A portion size of cooked grains in one sitting shouldn’t be much more than the amount that fills a quarter of your plate.
- Up your fresh vegetable intake – most people are not getting anywhere near enough in their diets. The UK government recommendation of five fruit and vegetables a day isn’t adequate for optimal health for most people (five is a compromise between what we need to be optimally healthy and what the government thinks people will actually realistically eat!) A better aim is seven to ten a day, with two of those being fresh fruit and the rest made up of vegetables. Fresh vegetables are packed full of vitamins A,C & E. These antioxidants repair and regenerate skin, protect it from free radical damage and boost collagen production (helping skin look smoother, plumper and younger).
- Eat your omega 3’s – omega 3 is the number one essential fatty acid that most people don’t get enough of in their diet. It calms down inflammation (acne, eczema are inflammatory skin conditions), can help with dandruff and strengthen nails and hair. Find it in small fish like wild salmon, mackerel, and sardines and in seeds and nuts, and the oils made from these, like hemp, chia, flax and walnut. The blue-green algae, Spirulina, is also a good source.
- Get more zinc – the majority of people have low to borderline levels of the mineral zinc mainly because food doesn’t contain as much of this important mineral these days due to intensive farming methods stripping nutrients from our soil. Zinc repairs and regenerates skin cells (it’s essential for wound healing, including acne wounds) and it’s needed for our bodies to be able to make collagen and HA (hyaluronic acid), the substances that plump up our skin and keep it youthful and line free. Find it in pumpkin seeds, tahini, hummus, shellfish and oysters.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! A lot of people don’t drink anywhere near enough water, are dehydrated and aren’t aware of it! Water helps flush skin irritating toxins from your body helping improve the appearance of skin and water is essential for skin plumpness (when you drink more water the HA in your skin is able to retain more moisture, smoothing the skin and reducing the appearance of fine lines).