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Eat your way to super skin!

With Autumn and Winter just around the corner how can you keep that summer glow by eating to feed your skin? Zoe Gilbey takes a closer look….

Lotions, potions plus….?

We’re familiar with using lotions and serums to help our skin look great, but did you know that the best way to look good on the outside, is to start inside? Happy, healthy skin needs a happy, healthy gut.  When our digestive system is ‘off’ it shows on our skin with tell-tale blemishes, dryness, and irritation.  Let’s look at how to nourish our skin from the inside out for year round radiance.

#H2O

The first step is getting enough water.  Don’t expect your skin to look plump and hydrated if you’re not…well…hydrated!  Roughly 60% of our body is water, so it makes good sense that proper fluid intake is important for our bodies and that includes our skin.  You can eat your water too!  Brightly coloured fruit and vegetables deliver much needed hydration and are packed with skin loving vitamins, minerals, fibre, and fabulous phytonutrients that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that support the body.  The wider the variety of colours the more nutrients you’ll get.  Aim for five to nine portions a day. A portion is about the size of your fist.

Nutrient S.O.S (Save Our Skin)

Vitamins are key to skin vitality.  Vitamin A, is a well known skin health nutrient, helping manage oily skin and necessary for overall good skin condition.  Foods containing vitamin A in the form of fat-soluble retinol include egg yolks, liver, fish oil and full-fat milk.  Beta-carotene, sometimes called pro-vitamin A, is an antioxidant found in yellow/orange vegetables and fruit that be converted by the body into vitamin A.  As well as contributing to overall skin health and appearance, antioxidants including beta-carotene may help the skin’s defences against UV radiation.  The name beta-carotene comes from the Greek “beta” and Latin “carota” (carrot). Recent studies suggest that people who eat more carotenoids are seen as more attractive due to their skin colour enhancing effects.  Think sweet potatoes, red and yellow peppers, apricots and of course carrots for rainbow radiance. 

Vitamin C found mainly in fresh fruit and vegetables is vital for healthy skin.  It is essential for the production of collagen, a protein that provides a scaffold-like structure for much of our body and provides volume, keeping skin looking plump and smooth and is essential for wound healing.  Very little vitamin C can be stored in the body so we need to eat it every day, preferably at every meal. 

Vitamin E, from olive oil, nuts and seeds is an integral part of the skin’s antioxidant defenses, protecting it from sun damage, helping to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Healthy oils and fats help to maintain healthy smooth and supple skin.  Avoid processed, hydrogenated oils and spreads and instead, reach for olive, hemp, avocado or walnut oil for drizzling over salads and vegetables.  For cooking, choose butter, ghee (clarified butter) or coconut oil as they’re more stable at high temperatures.  Oily fish such as salmon, trout and mackerel are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids.  For plant-based sources opt for flaxseeds or chia stirred into live yoghurt/kefir, smoothies, and soups.

Zinc is necessary for cell division, growth, and repair.  Six percent of total body zinc is found in the skin.  Include meat, shellfish, wholegrains and nuts regularly, and your skin will thank you. There’s no quick fix to great skin but every little change will help.  Focus on eating a range of good quality nutrient dense whole-foods; seasonal and organic where possible, to keep your gut happy and your skin radiant.

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Written by
Zoe Gilbey

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