For those of us who aren’t blessed with a fabulous complexion, it can feel like you’re fighting a losing battle to encourage your skin to behave itself.
Using moisturizers and other skincare products can iron out some problems in the short term but what if there was a way to change things more permanently?
Here’s why your diet could be the answer for treating dry skin, acne and even eczema and psoriasis.
What to Eat for Dry Skin
Lots of us can find that our skin gets dry from time to time, especially as things like cold weather, central heating, taking long, hot baths or showers and and using harsh soaps and facial washes can strip valuable moisture from your skin.
This will often only be temporary and your skin usually stops feeling so dry and tight when the weather picks up or you change your routine.
For some people, dry skin is more of a long term problem. This can be linked to factors such as:
Climate: If you live in a place with little humidity all year round, your skin is more likely to be dry.
Age: Skin tends to get drier as you get older and starts to lose its elasticity. This is often the case even if your skin was previously oily and it’s when you’re more likely to start noticing the dreaded signs of ageing creeping in such as fine lines and wrinkles.
Medications: Some medications can encourage your skin to become drier.
Health: Dry skin can sometimes be a sign of health conditions such as diabetes or hyperthyroidism.
When dry skin is a constant companion, the goal is to help your skin to hydrate itself from the inside out.
Some of the foods that can nourish from within include:
Avocado: Avocado contains healthy fats including oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid that helps the skin to maintain moisture.
Coconut oil: Coconut oil has had a bad reputation because it contains saturated fats but it’s not nearly as unhealthy as you might think. It’s also incredibly hydrating and easily absorbed into the bloodstream. Just a teaspoon or two per day can work wonders for dry skin, and you can use it as cooking oil or salad dressing.
Fatty acids: If you’re not getting enough fatty acids in your diet, your skin will usually be dry. You might notice this on your hands in particular. Omega-3 fatty acids are important for helping your skin to retain moisture and can make fine lines less obvious. Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include oily fish such as mackerel, herring, tuna, sardines and salmon, chia seeds, walnuts, flaxseeds, hemp seeds and egg yolks.
Cucumber: Cucumbers are full of water so they’re a great choice for keeping your skin hydrated. It’s also rich in vitamin A, which is closely linked to healthy skin. Your skin is more likely to be dry and even scaly if you’re deficient in vitamin A.
Vitamin D: Studies have shown a link between vitamin D levels and dry skin too. Exposure to sunlight is a great way to get vitamin D but you can also find it in foods such as salmon, tuna, sardines and some fortified cereals.
What to Eat for Younger Looking Skin
Some foods can even help to keep your skin supple and keep wrinkles and fine lines at bay!
Make sure you get enough of these nutrients to encourage your skin to stay looking younger for longer:
Fruit and vegetables: Eating a range of colorful fruits and vegetables every day isn’t just nutritious. They also contain antioxidants that are important for fighting harmful free radicals that can cause damage to skin cells, including ageing. Stock up on blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, plums, grapes, cherries, kale, broccoli, spinach and beets.
Vitamin C: Your skin needs vitamin C to produce collagen and elastin. This is important for helping your skin to be supple and have more elasticity. Citrus fruits are the obvious choice but you can also get a good amount of vitamin C from sweet potato, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, peppers (red and green), broccoli and Brussels sprouts.
Vitamin E: This antioxidant helps to protect against oxidative cell damage from free radicals. Foods that contain vitamin E include dark leafy green vegetables, broccoli, almonds, avocado, sunflower seeds, olive oil, pumpkin, butternut squash and kiwi.
Coconut oil: Coconut oil has antioxidant qualities, which means it can fight free radicals and help your skin to stay looking younger.
Fatty acids: Fatty acids aren’t just good for stopping your skin from being so dry; they can also help it to look younger too. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids maintain the skin’s protective barrier. Without this, your skin won’t look as plump or firm.
What to Eat for Acne
Chocolate has been blamed for acne in the past but it’s probably not the real reason you’re breaking out so much.
The typical Western diet includes a lot of foods that spike your blood sugar, which can trigger acne. These encourage your body to produce insulin and too much of this can mean your skin’s oil glands to go into overdrive. Culprits include white bread, white rice, sugar and pasta.
Western diets also tend to contain more saturated and trans fats and high glycemic carbohydrates, which research from the Journal of Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology linked to hormones that trigger excess oils and inflammation.
Stock up on low glycemic foods such as whole grains, legumes and fruits and vegetables. These have been shown to reduce acne in studies, along with antioxidants.
Liver: Liver is rich in vitamin A, which can encourage your skin cells to turn over more quickly. Studies have shown that acne sufferers are often lacking in vitamin A.
Zinc: If you’ve got acne, there’s a good chance you’re not getting enough zinc. This mineral can help to fight back against acne, although experts aren’t exactly sure why this is. Low levels of zinc have been linked to bad bouts of acne.
Fatty acids: A lot of us eat a lot of omega-6 fatty acids and not enough omega-3 fatty acids. The result? Inflammation, which can encourage acne.
What to Eat for Eczema
If you’ve got eczema, it’s a good idea to avoid foods that contain histamine. These can be inflammatory, and make eczema symptoms worse. This includes fermented foods, processed meats, dried fruits and foods containing vinegar.
Go for foods that don’t contain much histamine so that inflammation is a minimum. This includes bananas, green onions and buckwheat. These foods can also help eczema prone skin to repair itself.
Vitamin C is a natural antihistamine so it makes sense to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables that contain this nutrient. Berries, red grapes, apples, apricots, onions, broccoli and kale also contain quercetin, which has an anti inflammatory and antihistamine effect.
What to Eat for Psoriasis
Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin condition but diet can play a part in keeping symptoms in check.
Following an “anti inflammatory diet” that includes plenty of these foods and nutrients can help:
Fruits and vegetables: Fruits and vegetables are packed full of antioxidants and most of them have anti inflammatory benefits. As a general rule of thumb, you want to include as many colorful varieties into your diet as you can.
Fatty acids: Fatty acids can help to fight back against psoriasis but you need to get the right balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. If your diet contains too much omega-6 and not enough omega-3, it can encourage inflammation.
Garlic: Garlic is anti inflammatory and can also fight back against the enzymes that are involved in inflammation.
Coconut oil: Coconut oil is anti inflammatory and can be a great way to treat skin conditions such as psoriasis.
Vitamin D: Studies have suggested that vitamin D is an important nutrient for treating psoriasis. This might be why a lot of psoriasis sufferers find that their symptoms start to ease when their skin is exposed to sunlight.
What to Eat for Rosacea
Rosacea may be a skin condition but studies have suggested it can be linked to an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine. When this was treated, the pilot study saw rosacea symptoms improve in some patients.
Citrus fruits are fairly high in histamine and can worsen rosacea. Spicy foods can also make symptoms worse as they dilate the blood vessels and encourage facial flushing.
How Long It Takes
It generally takes up to 6 weeks for new skin cells to turn over so any diet changes you make won’t show in your skin straight away.
Have you noticed that your skin seems to be affected by what you eat?