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How does diet impact on your skin health?

Our skin is our largest organ; it protects the inside of our bodies from external environmental damages. All organs age, and our skin is no different, except it is the most visually telling, as it is the last of all the organs to receive hydration and nutrition.

Skin is greatly influenced by our genes, however research has confirmed that eating habits have a degree of impact on the skin. Inflammation is a part of the bodies natural defence of our immune system, but when this becomes chronic it can cause problems; this is due to the build up of the immune cells causing damage to the tissues, which increases acne and advances ageing.




Water

 

Keep hydrated – Our skin is approximately 64% water, therefore can be negatively impacted if you are dehydrated. Water also transports some of the nutrients around the skin and the rest of the body.


The recommendation for the average adult is 6 – 8 glasses per day, but exercising and hot weather are just two scenarios that will increase the amount of fluid you require. Water, milks, squashes, juices, smoothies, teas and coffees all count (Be mindful of the total sugary drinks for dental health) and remember that foods such as melon, berries, citrus fruits, cucumber, tomatoes, soups and ice lollies will also increase your fluid intake!



Protein

 

Proteins construct and repair tissues. The skin has a 28 day cycle of renewal and repair to help with healing, so without an adequate supply of protein, it cannot maintain this normal cycle. Different proteins from our diets are broken down to then be used to make keratin and collagen; the proteins used to give the skin its structure.

A source of protein should be consumed at every meal as part of a balanced diet, and also for snacking between meals. Sources of protein come from meats, fish, beans and legumes, eggs, dairy products, nuts and protein supplement powders.


Fat

 

Each skin cell contains fat; therefore consuming dietary fats are essential for skin health and cell structure. Fats will help keep the skin firm, flexible and hydrated. can also help transport nutrients around the body. Omega 3 essential fatty acids can also have anti-inflammatory benefits.


Unsaturated 'healthy' fats can be found in dairy, nuts, pulses, fish, lean meats, avocados and olive oil. However, all fats should be consumed in moderation.


Micronutrients

 

Vitamins A, B2, B3, B6, C, D, E, zinc, iron and selenium are important for optimal skin health and function. The antioxidants in these micronutrients help to protect our skin from free radicals, which promote visible damage and signs of ageing. These are vital for reducing inflammation, helping cell renewal and for overall skin health. Low iron levels can also cause the skin to look dull and chalky.

Some other foods which have high anti-inflammatory properties are garlic, turmeric and ginger.


Refined Sugars

 

A diet high in refined sugars (added sugars in cakes, biscuits, etc...) can increase the amount of harmful molecules produced, called advanced glycation end products (AGEs). AGEs can damage the collagen and elastin, the protein fibres that keep skin firm and elastic. This can result in the skin becoming dry and brittle. Furthermore, a study has shown that a high-glycemic diet (which makes the blood sugars rise and fall rapidly), when linked with an insulin resistance, has the potential to change the sebum production. This can promote inflammation, leading to acne.


Gut microbiome

 

Both the skin and our gut have microbial cells and when present will help to establish the immune system, defending against harmful bacteria and maintaining a healthy barrier. Research (although limited) has found that Lactobacilli (prebiotic) and fermented products (probiotic) can be beneficial for healing the skin.


Lifestyle promoters of inflammation

 

Not enough sleep Stress

Smoking Excessive alcohol consumption

Not maintaining a healthy body weight Little physical activity Excess sunlight



Studies are limited when it comes to food and skin health, although it is known that not just one food will be a miracle cure. In summary, having a balanced diet rich in nutrients will help your skin and overall health. With a good diet there should be no need for a supplement however, if you chose to use supplements, always be honest with healthcare professionals if taking a dietary or herbal supplement.

I am a big believer that all food has it's place and I don't want to demonise any foods, just to help educate those with skin concerns so they can make informed choices! Esta X


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