Our skin is our largest organ, providing a reflection of our inner health and showing what may or may not be happening inside our body. Imbalances with digestion, detoxification, hormones, blood sugar and or immune systems can show imbalances on the skin. In some, this may manifest as acne, rosacea, eczema or pigmentation concerns.
Working with a nutritional therapy practitioner can help you discover these imbalances and restore balance. But, there are multiple ways that we can begin to support your skin from within.
When looking to support skin, it is important to optimise all nutritional needs – focusing on a diet that contains the best foods for skin, including lean proteins, whole food fruit and vegetables, fibre and antioxidants that nourish our bodies from the inside whilst optimising digestion and detoxification. When supporting clients, I like to focus on ensuring that there are no nutrient deficiencies present, building the gut and getting a glow with antioxidants and omega 3!
Foods rich in collagen
The skin is built up of three layers – the subcutaneous layer, dermis and epidermis. Making up more than 80% of the skin's thickness is the middle layer – the dermis.
This layer consists of proteins, collagen and elastin, which rebuild the skin layers whilst also keeping the skin soft and supple. Optimising our intake of protein-rich foods, such as lean meats, eggs, beans and pulses, supports this building of the dermis layer which works its way up the other skin layers to reveal a clear and glowing complexion. Whilst optimising proteins is essential, you can also increase intake of collagen-rich foods such as bone broth, oily fish and chicken.
Whilst increasing collagen is important in the body – it is important to support optimal vitamin C also, to ensure that the collagen is put to good use.
Antioxidant foods for skin
Antioxidants are the fighters of free oxidative damage and free radicals, such as pollution, stress and sun/UV damage. When used topically, they work to protect the skin's surface layer, the epidermis. When eaten, they reduce inflammation to support the skin in repairing itself.
Antioxidants are a powerhouse for gaining a glowing and fresh complexion, whilst also combating signs of inflammation that could be present due to conditions such as acne, eczema and psoriasis. Go-to antioxidant foods for skin include:
Dark berries: Think blueberries, blackberries and raspberries
Vitamin A-rich foods such as sweet potato and carrots
Lycopene-rich nutrients such as tomatoes
Vitamin C-rich foods such as red bell peppers, oranges and papaya
Foods for glowing skin
Nourishing from the inside out is where you should always start when it comes to maintaining fresh and youthful skin. Eating a diet rich whole foods, especially cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, kale, sprouts and radishes, is key.
As mentioned earlier, collagen and elastin are our two main focuses for maintaining the elasticity and bounce of youthful, glowing skin. So, give your skin the building blocks it needs to build and glow by optimising protein intake from lean meats, eggs, beans and pulses and opting for healthy fats to regulate and stabilise oil production of the skin with foods such as avocado, oily fish, nuts and seeds.
Another tip I always like is switching one of your daily cups of coffee to a cup of good quality green tea. Rich in antioxidants and famous for its detoxification properties, green tea contains phytochemicals and polyphenols that work as antioxidants to prevent the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, whilst also hydrating the skin to ensure it’s still plump and lifted.
Foods to avoid for clear skin
Skin conditions and complaints can often be the result of an underlying imbalance such as hormone imbalances, gut dysbiosis or sluggish detoxification. These can be supported through diet alterations, lifestyle adaptations and exercise. In clinical practice, it is important to focus on the foods that we can ADD to the diet first, before removing. Having said this, there are foods that should be avoided for clear skin as they can disrupt our skin barrier and increase inflammation.
Regular indulgence of highly processed foods that are high in sugar, saturated/trans fats with little nutrient value can often lead to dull, tired looking skin. These prevent collagen production and cause inflammation in the body that may show as redness, eczema, dark under eyes or acne.