The quest for clear skin is something of a holy grail for me. I’ve had eczema since childhood but that’s something that I’m used to. What frustrates me more is the fact that I’ve had more breakouts in the last 18 months than I ever had when going through puberty! This has made me look more closely at skincare and the importance of what we put on our skin and into our bodies. As many people know I’m an advocate of Neal’s Yard Remedies – the products are made from organic essential oils and free from synthetics and other nasties. You can read more about Neal’s Yard products here, but the focus of this post is to look at what we need to consume through our diet to achieve healthy skin.
We know antioxidants are good for us, but do we know why? Time for a quick GCSE science lesson. The body is made of molecules and when they do not contain the right amount of electrons, they become unstable and can turn into free radicals. Too many free radicals in the body can lead to illness and disease. However, the body also produces antioxidants – hurrah! Antioxidants ‘donate’ spare electrons to the unstable molecules, therefore neutralising and preventing them from becoming free radicals. Got it? It took me a while. We need a good balance of both free radicals and antioxidants, so it’s important to eat antioxidant-rich foods.1
Food sources include dark chocolate, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, kale, red cabbage, beans and spinach.2
This mineral plays a vital role in the promotion of wound healing and healthy skin, especially for people with acne. It helps to control the production of sebum (oil) in the skin – too much of which can cause outbreaks. In some cases, acne is a sign of zinc deficiency.
Food sources include dairy products, eggs, cereal products including wheat germ, bread, meat, shellfish, pumpkin seeds, ginger, pecans and Brazil nuts.3
Essential fatty acids
These are required for maintaining optimum health, including skin repair and energy. We require many types of fatty acids but there are two ‘essential’ fatty acids, which cannot be synthesised by the body and have to be consumed through food. They are omega-3 fatty acid (alpha-linolenic acid) and omega-6 fatty acid (linoleic acid). Omega-3s are particularly important in balancing the moisture content of the skin, alleviating dry or inflamed skin and that which is prone to whiteheads or blackheads.
Food sources include oily fish, flaxseeds and linseeds. Top tip – if you’re not keen on fish, Aldi sells bags of milled linseed which is great for mixing into cereals and smoothies, or sprinkling over salad.
This antioxidant promotes tissue elasticity. It prevents cell damage from free radicals and it’s suggested to play a role in the prevention of skin cancer by acting as a defence against excessive exposure to UV light.
Food sources include tuna, salmon, garlic, Brazil nuts, whole-wheat bread, brown rice and eggs.4
Vitamin C provides a range of health benefits – it reduces the risk of chronic diseases, helps to lower high blood pressure, supports the immune system, etc. In terms of the skin, vitamin C reduces damage caused by free radicals that can compromise collagen and elastin – support structures within the skin – resulting in premature signs of ageing.5
Food sources include broccoli, kale, red and green peppers, leafy greens, spinach, parsley, tomatoes, lemons, oranges, strawberries and blackcurrants.6
This is another effective antioxidant known for reducing damage to the skin caused by overexposure. It prevents wrinkles and the signs of ageing and, when applied to the skin in creams and lotions, it softens and soothes dry skin.
Food sources include vegetable oils (including wheat germ and sunflower), sunflower seeds, nuts, spinach, broccoli, peaches, prunes, cabbage and avocados.7
Important in the repair and maintenance of the skin, an adequate level of vitamin A prevents dry and flaky skin. It is often found in treatments for acne and other skin conditions.
Food sources include chili peppers, liver, cheese, eggs, oily fish, spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes and yellow fruits, such as apricots.8
This golden oldie will not come as a surprise. With the average adult body composed of 60% water, its importance should never be overlooked. Water helps to remove toxins from the body (especially after a lovely massage once the lymphatic system has been given a boost!) and keeps the skin looking radiant, hydrated and smooth.
Word of warning – it’s always best to get the vitamins and minerals you need through a healthy diet. If you ever decide to take supplements, always get the advice of a pharmacist, nutritionist or your GP. On the recommendation of a ‘therapist’, I once took a range of supplements to rebuild my strength after illness. Within a matter of weeks I became very ill due to overdosing on magnesium! I only had myself to blame for not getting the correct advice in the first place, but rest assured it’s a mistake I will not make again!
Until next time. X
Inner Wellness Massage Blog
Welcome to my wellness blog! This is where I will share all things health and wellbeing. I hope to encourage others to prioritise their own health while I continuously work to better my own.
Disclaimer: the views and experiences shared are my own and information based on health-related topics has been researched. While this blog promotes and encourages a healthy lifestyle, I am not a doctor and the content is not intended as medical advice. Always seek help from a medical professional if you are concerned about your health.