What should I eat for healthy skin? We have a look at skin and nutrition
What we eat and fuel our bodies with, not surprisingly, affects the ways we look and feel. If you’ve had an indulgent weekend drinking wine and recovering with a greasy takeaway, the chances are come Monday morning it will show on your skin and the effects can take longer than you may think to disappear.
There is more than a ring of truth to the phrase, you are what you eat, with our skin’s health and complexion linked to the right nutrition and other lifestyle factors.
We look at which foods may benefit your skin and which foods may hinder it.
Foods which can have a positive effect on your skin health & appearance:
Vitamins for skin health are really important – vitamin literally means ‘essential for life’ – and as they cannot be produced by the body they have to be provided through nutrition.
One of the most important vitamins for skin is niacinamide (or vitamin B3) which can be found in fish, poultry, mushrooms and asparagus. B3 boosts our overall metabolism and plays a key role in making sure skin cells have enough energy to produce important skin plumping proteins like collagen. Niacinamide is also one of the best studied vitamins for skin when it comes to skincare, and almost every Olay product contains this multi-tasking ingredient.
Antioxidants such as Vitamin C, Vitamin E and carotenes (a form of Vitamin A) can help protect your body and skin against free radicals, which are generated from UV rays and environmental pollutants such as car fumes and cigarette smoke and can cause premature signs of skin ageing. Consuming large amounts of anti-oxidants has been shown to provide protection against photo-damage in skin1. Examples of foods which are high in Vitamin C are strawberries, kiwis, peppers, broccoli and citrus fruits, while carotenes can be found in sweet potatoes, carrots, and melons, and Vitamin E in almonds, avocado and sunflower seeds.
Vitamin D can be made by the body during sun exposure – this actually happens in the skin. However, many people need additional Vitamin D from their food as they are sensibly covering up exposed skin and using sunscreens when being outdoors. Salmon, eggs and dairy are all rich in vitamin D and salmon also includes Omega 3 (also found in other fatty fish, algae and several high-fat plant foods), which contain fatty acids that are known to be beneficial to the whole body.
Walnuts, almonds, olive and canola oils, and flax seeds all provide essential fatty acids, which are important for skin’s function to help prevent moisture loss and keep your skin looking hydrated and glowing – some of the best food for skin!
Drinking water is essential not only for your body but also for hydrated, healthy skin which is made up on average of 60-70% water. It is recommended we drink around 2 litres of water a day – although this varies depending on the person and their activities.
Foods to avoid for healthy looking skin
Food with a high glycaemic index such as white bread and refined sugars can cause blood sugar levels to rise quickly. High GI foods cause a spike in hormone levels including insulin which is thought to increase sebum production and might contribute to acne and breakouts. Excess sugar in your bloodstream can also cause glycation, a natural chemical reaction that happens between certain sugar molecules and proteins in your skin. Glycation of skin’s main building blocks collagen and elastin can lead to a loss of skin firmness and elasticity as well as discoloration and skin appearing more dull.2 Interestingly, Olay researchers found that the stress hormone cortisol can increase the effects of glycation by up to 20% - so if you must have that chocolate bar do it when you are calm and relaxed, not stressed!
Salt in moderation is fine, however too much can increase water retention and can leave the skin looking puffy (especially in the eye area). Salt is added to many foods where we don’t always expect it. It can be added as a flavour enhancer and preservative, so make sure to always check food labels.
Alcohol dehydrates our body and skin which can leave your skin looking dull and cause fine lines and wrinkles to look more pronounced.
Olay’s tips for healthy looking skin
Ensure you drink plenty of water following a night out and make sure you remove any make-up prior to going to sleep to give your skin the best chance of recovery. Ensure you apply a night cream to give your skin a boost such as Olay Regenerist 3 Point Age-defying Night Cream which intensively hydrates skin and reduces the appearance of fine lines & wrinkles, helping to renew your skin's youthful look while you sleep.
Those who think they are making a better choice by not indulging in typically sugary drinks may be surprised that a glass of red wine can contain up to 400 calories.
It is so important to maintain a good diet for healthy skin, eating a balanced diet, fuelling your body with healthy and nutritious foods combined with a dedicated skincare routine ensuring your skin in nurtured from both the inside and outside.
1 Tomato paste rich in lycopene protects against cutaneous photodamage in humans in vivo: a randomized controlled trial. M. Rizwan, I. Rodriguez-Blanco, A. Harbottle, M.A. Birch-Machin, R.E.B. Watson and L.E. Rhodes. BJD, 2011 164, pp154–162
2 Diet, Skin Aging, and Glycation. Z Draelos. Cosmetic Dermatology, 2012, VOL. 25 NO. 5