Ever heard the phrase, “You are what you eat.” It is very apt when it comes to our skin health. What we put into our bodies can either leave us with healthy, glowing skin or an aged, acne marred complexion. Keeping in mind that the effect of one’s diet is subjective to each individual, some diets can make or break your skin health.
Foods to be avoided
High sugar content
Our skin is made up of the protein collagen which gives it its elasticity and firmness. Sugar molecules can attach to collagen and breaks it down which can lead to accelerated ageing of the skin manifesting in wrinkles and dull, tired-looking skin. Sugar also inhibits new collagen production which prevents the skin from natural healing and repairing itself worsening skin health.
Furthermore, high amounts of sugar consumption would trigger the production of hormones which in turn trigger oil production. This is worsened by the fact that sugar broken down by the gut is immediately absorbed into the bloodstream and triggers and increased inflammatory response due to the spike in the hormone insulin. This would lead to the inflammation of recovering acne and contribute to forming new ones.
This includes processed carbs such as white bread and other sweet confectionaries.
There have been increasing amounts of studies that relate the breakout of acne to dairy consumption. One potential cause may be due to the artificial hormones that are pumped into dairy cows to increase their milk production. Another is that whey and casein proteins are broken down into a hormone that triggers the break out of acne in our bodies.
It is also high in the sugar lactose which will lead to the break down of collagen. It also leads to oxidative stress on the skin which is a primary cause of premature ageing resulting in dull skin and wrinkles.
This includes milk, cheese, yoghurt etc.
Foods to incorporate
Nuts contain an impressive store of nutrients that keep the skin looking healthy and youthful. Among which are the high amounts of Vitamin B that removes toxins and Vitamin E that forms a protective barrier around the skin cells that keep it firm and elastic.
It is also high in antioxidants and minerals. Antioxidants help to protect the skin against damage from free radical particles found in the air which can break down collagen and lead to wrinkle formation. Minerals such as copper help to synthesize collagen while magnesium and potassium help to improve circulation thus increasing oxygen and nutrient supply to the skin.
Foods rich in Omega 3 fats
These can be found in fishes such as salmon, flaxseeds and walnuts. They protect against sun damage and keep your skin hydrated.
Omega 3 fats have a strong anti-inflammatory effect on the skin which will help to minimise sun damage. Studies had shown that unprotected skin of people who take fish oil supplements do not burn as easily as those who did not. However, it is still important that sunscreen is used to protect the skin against sun damage.
It also a component of the lipid content of the skin cells that carry out a barrier function that can act like a seal that prevents moisture from escaping resulting in less dry, rough and irritated skin.
Kale is another superfood that contains a multitude of vitamins perfect for the maintenance of skin health. Vitamin A or retinol is essential for the healthy growth of cell and maintenance of soft, supple skin. There is Vitamin C as well which promotes the production of collagen and protects against sun damage. It also has the mineral copper that boost the synthesis of melanin, a pigment that protects the skin against sun damage via its anti-inflammatory characteristic.
Tomatoes contain lycopene, the red pigment that gives it its red colouration. It is a powerful antioxidant that will help reduce free radical damage to the skin by rendering the free radicals inactive and thus reversing signs of inflammation, stress and ageing on the skin.
It also can act as an astringent that causes the pore to constrict and thus reduces the appearance of large pores. This also reduces the accumulation of dirt in the pores, in turn, reducing the chances of acne formation.
This popular superfood as earned celebrity status among the health-conscious, and it is well deserved. It contains a high amount of healthy fats that help to prevent inflammation and thus reduce redness and swelling of irritated skin.
It is also rich in Vitamins A, D and E coupled with oleic and linoleic acid which helps to moisturise and protect the skin against harmful environmental factors such as UV lights. Vitamin E also helps to lighten and reduce scarring and pigmentation.
The omega 3 fats help to strengthen the skin barrier as it is a component to the fatty acid layer of the skin cells preventing dehydration of the skin and thus guards against dry skin.
Dark chocolate is touted to be able to lift moods by giving users the much-needed kick of dopamine. It is also known for its ability to improve skin health. There is experimental evidence that moderate amounts of dark chocolate provide the antioxidants required to combat against free radicals from the sun’s rays that lead to premature ageing of the skin.
The minerals and vitamins such as calcium, iron, Vitamin A, B1, C etc can deeply moisturize the skin and leave behind a healthy glow and repair dry skin. Its ability to help reduce cortisol levels, a stress hormone, indirectly helps to reduce wrinkle formation.