Our skin is our largest organ and a very good barometer of overall health. When it comes to glowing, healthy skin it really is a case of beauty being more than skin deep. What we chose to eat and drink can make a bigger difference to the appearance of our skin than an expensive cream.
Protect from the sun
- Use sun screen. Beyond protecting our skin from wrinkles and damage, it can also be important for health. Skin cancer rates in Ireland have tripled in last 20 years and more than 1,000 people are now diagnosed annually. Protect yourself from the sun by staying out of the mid-day sun and always applying plenty of good quality broad-spectrum sunscreen (protects from UVA and UVB). Research done shows that most of us only use half of the amount of sunscreen we need and that we don’t reapply often enough.
- Vitamin D deficiency is prevalent in Ireland, with around 50% of the population lacking enough of this vital nutrient. While we do need to get some sunshine to make enough vitamin D, we don’t need to burn or expose our face to get vitamin D. Most of us will make enough in 20 minutes of exposure on our arms and legs.
Hydrate from the inside with water and healthy fats
- Water – drinking enough water is probably the easiest and cheapest way to improve skin health. Water plumps up the skin, causing wrinkles and pores to be less noticeable. When your skin is dehydrated, it’s less resilient and elastic, making it more prone to wrinkling
- Omega 3 fatty acids, found in oily fish like salmon and mackerel help keep the skin supple, strong and plumped up by attracting water into cells and preventing dryness and redness. Plant-based sources of omega 3 include walnuts, chia seeds, pumpkin and linseeds
- Other healthy fats – avocado, nuts, seeds help to moisturise from the inside.
- As well as containing healthy fats, most nuts and seeds are good sources of vitamin E, one of the most important antioxidants for skin health. Vitamin E and other antioxidants protect cells from damage and can help to slow down ageing.
- In addition to fats and vitamin E, Avocados also contain biotin, a B vitamin important for skin and nail health. As well as eating them you can use them as a face mask. Mash an avocado and mix with a little honey. Smear on skin and leave for 20 minutes
- Olives and olive oil contain mono-unsaturated oils that help skin resist UV damage, according to a Lancet Oncologystudy
Eat a rainbow of veg and fruit for antioxidant protection & collagen boosting Vitamin C
- Antioxidants such as beta-carotene and vitamins C, E, and A can curb damage to skin cells that causes signs of aging.
- Studies have found that carotenoids, the antioxidants in brightly coloured orange, yellow, red, green fruit and veg, can reduce our skin’s sensitivity to the sun. Vitamin A, which is made from carotenoids in our body, also reduces the development of skin cancer cells
- Lycopene, found in red fruit and veg especially tomatoes, acts as your skin’s internal SPF. German scientists report that higher skin levels of lycopene correlate to fewer fine lines and furrows. The antioxidant is best absorbed when the tomatoes are cooked. It’s also easier for your body to absorb if eaten with healthy fats, like avocado or olive oil.
- Vitamin C is vital for collagen production (which acts as scaffolding for the skin), and is found in abundance in fruit and veg, especially peppers, kiwis and strawberries. Collagen breakdown, which speeds up from the age of 35, can leave skin looking saggy
- Cucumbers are rich in water, vitamin C, and silica. Silica is a trace mineral that is critical for strong connective tissue and amazing for skin health, keeping skin smooth and supple. Silica also found in strawberries, celery, green beans
- Radishes are loaded with water and sulphur-containing amino acids. Sulphur is known as a beautifying mineral that helps our body process and eliminate toxins. Sulphur is found in keratin, the protein which gives strength to our hair, skin and nails and can also help collagen production. Also found in eggs, garlic, cruciferous veg
- Download our handout on eating a rainbow for more ideas
Look after your gut to support healthy skin
- If the digestive system in congested, your body can eliminate toxins through the skin. Eat plenty of fibre – vegetables, fruit, pulses, wholegrains to promote waste elimination via the gut.
- Fermented foods – important for gut health, to support levels of beneficial bacteria. These bacteria produce b vitamins including biotin and support waste elimination
Cut back on smoking, alcohol and sugar
- Smoking – associated with premature skin ageing. Skin loses elasticity and acquires small red lines due to the dilation of blood vessels. Wrinkles appear, caused by oxidative stress, like too much sunshine
- High sugar diet triggers release of higher levels of insulin. As well as contributing to lots of more serious health issues like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer, Insulin also accelerates the ageing process
- Alcohol is a toxin to the cells that detoxify your body (your liver). Also dehydrates skin and is high in sugar. On the positive side, red wine does contain antioxidants, but we get maximum beneficial effect from one small glass per day. Alcohol may irritate people with sensitive skin
Get enough sleep – it’s like a multivitamin for the skin
- Sleep boosts blood flow to the skin and allows increase in collagen and other chemicals in our body which help to repair cells.
Summer meal plan for glowing skin
|Breakfast||Scrambled eggs with spinach and cherry tomatoes|
|Snack||Carrot sticks and hummus / oat cakes and almond butter|
|Lunch||Chickpea salad with cucumber, radish, broccoli and spring onion|
|Snack||Kiwi fruit and palmful walnuts|
|Dinner||Roast salmon, steamed vegetables and roast sweet potato|