As the old saying goes, you are what you eat. Sure, the odd red velvet cupcake here and there is great for the soul. And, no, a moderate amount of so-called ‘bad’ foods won’t do you major harm in the long run.
However, a well-rounded, nutritious diet is the key to long-term physical and emotional wellbeing. And it’s not just your health that’s at stake here. Your diet can also make a significant difference to the look and feel of your skin.
So, what foods should you look out for and how do they affect your skin? Below, six of the best… and worst offenders.
Antioxidants are essential for protecting your skin from free radical damage, so, as well as including topical antioxidants in your skincare routine with our Pre-Eminent Beauty Serum, you need plenty in your daily diet. No arguments. Of course, getting your five portions of fresh fruit and veg is the best way to up your antioxidant game.
Berries are especially high in antioxidants, as are carrots, broccoli, kale, spinach and citrus fruits. However, brazil nuts and eggs are also fabulous as they contain selenium – a powerful antioxidant that works hard to support and protect your skin.
2. Healthy Fats
Essential fatty acids are vital for your skin as they help keep it supple, soft and well lubricated. Kind of like the dietary version of your favorite Imperial Moisturiser, if you will! Oily fish, avocados, nuts and seeds are a great way to add monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats into your diet (they’re the good ones). And no, butter, cream and fried foods do not count.
Perhaps not something you immediately think of for skin health, but zinc is fantastic for repairing damage, regulating oil production and strengthening your skin. Zinc is also anti-inflammatory and antibacterial, so it’s a great shout if you suffer from annoying breakouts on the reg.
The problem is your body can’t store zinc for long, so if you want to reap its benefits, get your fill every day from things like nuts, beans, lean red meat, fish, chicken and seeds.
You can’t beat the pleasure you get from a slice of Vicky sponge, but sad times: sugar is the absolute devil for your skin. An overload of sugar in your system attacks your skin cells and latches onto important fats and proteins causing them to stiffen, weaken and produce what’s known as advanced glycation end products – aptly shortened to AGEs.
AGEs are hell on your skin because they do a real number on your collagen and elastin and make your skin age lightning fast. Think lines, wrinkles, sagginess, dullness, the works. Try using honey instead of sugar and snack on fruit if you need something to curb your sweet tooth.
Salt is extremely dehydrating, literally sucking all the life out of your skin and ruining its important barrier function. It also causes inflammation and weakens your collagen. Too much salt in your diet? A one-way ticket to dryness, irritation and flaking skin.
Of course, a moderate amount is vital for your overall health, but try not to sprinkle it on your meals or add extra salt when cooking. Also, cut down on high-salt treats like processed meat and (sigh) cheese.
Refined carbs like white bread, pasta, rice and potatoes have a high glycaemic index which increases sugar levels in your skin. And what do you now know about too much sugar in your diet? Yes, those pesky AGEs again.
A rapid rise in blood sugars also triggers your body to produce insulin and insulin-like growth factors which cause your body to churn out male hormones and hence increase sebum production. Balanced sebum is fabulous for your skin, but too much can clog your pores and encourage breakouts.
Swap out the white stuff in favour of low glycaemic foods such as brown rice and pasta, sweet potatoes, oats and multigrain bread.
Final thought: of course, we would never suggest cutting every last morsel of bad stuff out of your diet completely. That would be silly. Just try to tip your diet in favour of the good stuff and your skin will thank you for it. As will your entire wellbeing.