When we look at the health of our skin, it’s common to manage any flaws, be it pimples, pigmentation or fine lines with a superficial approach, such as make-up. However, treating the cause of our symptoms, such as looking at the health of our gut, may actually resolve many of our skin woes and have long term overall positive benefits. Cate Lilja, nutritional, herbal, and complementary medicine scientist and co-founder of Optima Nutricosmetics helps us uncover what a diet for glowing skin looks like.
Start with the gut
Gut health can have a huge impact on skin health – you can’t have one without the other. So, when it comes to eating for your skin, start by feeding your gut and microbiome. The best way to do this is by eating plenty of pre and probiotic foods. These help to maintain a healthy gut and microbiome that keeps inflammation in your gut in check and ensures your digestion is running smoothly.
Probiotic foods come in the form of fermented foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, miso, tempeh and kombucha. Prebiotic foods include kiwi fruit, cacao, asparagus, artichokes, oats, apples, onions and cooled boiled brown rice. Of course, you can also take a pre and probiotic supplement to make sure you are getting your daily intake.
Reducing the Sweet Stuff
There are a number of factors at play in relation to our skin ageing, including sun exposure, physical and psychological stress, environmental pollution and diet. When it comes to food, we can have a powerful direct impact on the health of our skin.
Sugar plays a particularly big role in the appearance of our skin. If we consume too much sugar in our diet, the body responds with a process called glycation, which produces an end-product that damages collagen. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, mostly found in the skin and is responsible for skin strength and firmness. Therefore, when this protein is damaged the appearance of ageing may be accelerated.
From the age of 30 our body naturally produces less collagen, which leads to the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and a losing war against gravity. However, supplementing with marine collagen peptides has been shown to stimulate skin cells to produce increased levels of collagen. The impact of this improves the innate ability of the skin to produce more, better quality collagen.
The result of supplementing with marine collagen is a reduction in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, skin appears fuller, firmer, softer, hydrated and more radiant. A daily dose of 10g is enough to see benefits within 2-4 weeks. Opting for a wild caught marine collagen which is certified sustainable ensures minimal environmental impact and preservation of fish stocks.
Plant based power
Being the largest organ in your body the skin needs a variety of nutrients and plenty of them to look vibrant and radiant. A variety of plant-based foods can help to deliver just that.
A diet containing plenty of herbs, spices, vegetables, fruits, wholegrains, legumes, nuts and seeds can help to ensure you are getting enough skin nutrients. Some super skin foods to include avocado, seaweed, saffron, sunflower seeds, blueberries and broccoli.
Our skin relies on good fats to maintain hydration, skin softness and radiance. The most important of these is Omega 3 which supports the skin barrier function, is anti-inflammatory and protects the skin from photo-ageing. Our body does not naturally produce this nutrient so we must consume it in our diet to maintain the health of our skin.
Foods high in omega-3 include fatty fish like salmon or sardines, as well as chia seeds, flaxseeds, hemp seeds and walnuts. These are also a great source of fat-soluble vitamins E and A which act as important antioxidants in our skin. A less common healthy fat is Omega 7, which is known as palmitoleic acid and is found in fish, macadamia oil and olive oil. Omega 7 helps to moisturise the skin, but it also helps to heal the mucous membranes in the gut.
What’s your go-to for healthy skin?