Written by Talia Cecchele
Have you ever wondered why some days you have smooth and blemish-free skin, then other days it’s as if you’ve time traveled back to high school and have blemishes pop-up overnight?
There is a lot of talk about skin health these days with topics such as collagen supplementation, gut health, jade rollers and elimination diets all over the media. It can be really confusing! It is extremely disheartening when I see people without any health qualification recommend to others that they need to change their diet, like eliminating dairy or chocolate is the magic cure for everyone (it's not - vegans get acne too).
What is the best diet for healthy skin?
Sorry to say, but a normal balanced diet IS a healthy skin diet. It’s not sexy but it works. Skin is our largest organ. It protects us from the sun and internal damage, produces vitamin D and houses many bacteria and viruses (a.k.a the skin microbiome). The health of our skin is influenced mostly by genetics and hormones (yep, that time of the month can lead to a break-out) but diet, pollution, stress (this causes inflammation and hormonal changes) and our skincare routine can all play a part.
So, what dietary changes can I make to maximise my skin health?
1. Eat a balanced diet:
Include omega 3 fats which help to alleviate dry, itchy skin and suppress inflammation. Omega 3 fats are found in oily fish, chia seeds, flax seeds, walnuts, eggs, avocado and almonds.
Fibre to support your gut microbiome, keep you regular and prevent constipation. I wrote a blog all about fibre here.
Vitamin C which assists in collagen formation. Collagen is a group of proteins that help provide skin, hair and nails with strength, durability and shape. Whilst there is a growing research-base in this area, there is currently no conclusive evidence to support taking collagen supplements, but the choice is yours. Regardless, focus on a balanced diet from wholefoods including vitamin C-rich foods like berries, citrus fruits, broccoli, kiwi and pineapple.
Vitamins A and E are antioxidants that help to protect the skin from damage, therefore maintaining quality hair, skin and nails. Food sources include nuts, seeds, olive oil, green leafy vegetables, orange fruits and vegetables (e.g. carrot, dried apricots) and grains.
B Vitamins. A deficiency in these can lead itchy skin. Food sources include eggs, organ meats, legumes, wholegrains and salmon
Zinc for skin health. Zinc helps to connect collagen fibres and plays a vital role in immunity. Foods high in zinc include cashews, pumpkin seeds, eggs, oysters, meat and legumes
Silica is needed for keratin production in our hair, skin and nails. It is found in foods including banana, raisins, legumes and wholegrains
2. Stay hydrated!
Our body is 50%-80% water by mass and it has a huge role to play in skin health by removing toxins and keeping our skin supple. Drink mostly water and minimise coffee and alcohol as these place increased stress on your liver.
What about dairy and chocolate?
There is no conclusive scientific evidence that links dairy as a cause of acne, however some studies support that it can exacerbate symptoms. Eliminating dairy, or specifically milk can be helpful for a small number of the population. There is also clinical evidence that supports full fat dairy over low fat dairy for skin health. If you think that dairy, milk or skimmed/low-fat varieties are a contributing factor to you, try removing it for 6-8 weeks. If there is no improvement in your skin health, then include it back in your diet.
The same goes for high sugar foods and high glycemic index (GI) foods. Reducing processed and high sugar foods and eating more wholefoods and mostly low GI can not only help your skin, but many aspects of your health.
What are some non-dietary strategies to support skin health?
1. Reduce stressors which cause inflammation including poor sleep, smoking, excessive exercise and sun exposure. Wear broad spectrum SPF sunblock containing both UV-A (protects the skin from aging) and UV-B (protects the skin from burning) protection if you plan to spend time in the sun.
2. Have a good skin care routine that works for your skin type or skin concern.
If you are concerned about your skin or have questions about a skin care routine that works for you, please talk to your GP and/or a Dermatologist. Please don’t use Dr Google.
At TC Nutrition, we can support you with building a balanced diet, overcoming food fears and finding freedom with food. Get in touch with us for a free 15 minute discovery call with one of our dietitians.
Lead Dietitian & Founder of TCN
Talia Cecchele is a Highly Specialist Eating Disorder Dietitian and Founder of Talia Cecchele Nutrition, a virtual clinic of specialist eating disorder dietitians. Talia is passionate about supporting people to ditch the extremes of dieting, bring balance back to nutrition and find food freedom by overcoming food rules. You can follow Talia on Instagram @tcnutrition for more content and resources
Talia Cecchele Nutrition is a team of registered dietitians that specialise in eating disorder recovery, disordered eating, digestive issues and sports nutrition. We aim to bring balance back to nutrition, help you to break free from food rules and find food freedom. We offer virtual consultations and group programs so whether you are based in London, the United Kingdom or around the world we would love to support you. To enquire about a private consultation please fill out a contact form.