Over the years I’ve had my fair share of bad skin…oily, dry, bouts of acne albeit not as severe as I might have felt it was at the time and even today I’d still be prone to the occasional outburst. Poor nutrition coupled with the usual hormone imbalances, inconsistent skin care and too much pinching and prodding made the situation way worse then it needed to be.
Around April of last year (2012) I started to get large scaly patches of skin…first on my knuckles, a tiny spot on my cheek, then my knees and elbow. I went to the doctor already pretty having self diagnosed psoriasis only to have it confirmed. The treatment? Steroidal creams…no alternative, no other suggestions in relation to my diet, just live with it… It’s appearance was put down to stress which I definitely think had a big role to play but what I was and wasn’t putting in to my body was having a greater impact then I was lead to believe was possible.
In the past I abused food, eating too much of it, wasting it, purging it, not eating enough or any of it at times. My relationship with food was about control and to the forefront of my mind were calories and weight. The power of the food you choose to eat can have such an impact on your health, mind and of course skin, something which I totally underestimated until I experienced the benefits.
What I now know is that whatever surfaces on the skin is quite clearly caused by something going on internally which for the vast majority can be rebalanced.
Although psoriasis doesn’t traditionally nor conventionally respond to nutritional intervention, I believe the emergence of my psoriasis was down to my digestive problems which were inherently overcome by altering my diet and my food patterns. Toxins were being released from my body which at this present moment in time have 100% disappeared. Not on scaly patch in site! No special creams or medications aside from a little extra moisturisation (this all natural MooGoo is amazing stuff!)
There are so many external “skin enemies” the least we can do is give it the best chance to look bright and beautiful by eating the right foods There are specific common food triggers associated with certain skin conditions, eczema for example is quite commonly linked to wheat and dairy intolerances. The below suggestions are broader in nature. I’d suggest seeing a nutritional therapist to review your own diet individually if you are struggling to get a condition under control.
Top Nutrition Tips for Healthy Skin
- Eat foods rich in antioxidants – a bright colourful array of fresh untreated (preferably organic) fruit and vegetables are key to healthy skin now and in the long term. They reduce the speed at which the skin degenerates and effectively ages. My top non produce sources include cinnamon, raw cacao (and cacao nibs),red kidney beans and pecans! Antioxidants will also help reduce inflammation which can be a huge contributory factor to many skin conditions; acne, psoriasis…
- Essential fats are essential for beautiful skin – each skin cell is composed of essential fats. With an abundance of Omega 6 in the vast majority of people’s diets it’s our Omega 3 intake we need to be more conscious of. For soft supple skin be sure to get your daily intake. I personally choose chia seeds, ground flax, flax oil and pumpkin seeds as my top plant sources. Of course eating organic fresh (not farmed) fish 2-3 times a week would also be a fantastic way to up your intake. When I don’t get my fill of Omega 3 I almost immediately notice my skin becoming dry and looking a little lack lustre!
- Load up on Zinc – zinc is vital for the generation of new skin cells. When you’re lacking it in your diet your likely to experience poor healing and be more prone to stretch marks! Insufficient intake is also widely associated with a variety of skin disorders from acne to eczema. My top food source of choice is pumpkin seeds but for someone suffering from the likes of acnes I’d suggest a supplement. I personally take 20mcg of chelated zinc daily (chelated form being the closest to that found naturally in food ensuring its more readily absorbed by the body). Watermelon seeds are also a super source.
- Hydrate – never underestimate the value of water. When your skins dehydrated the cells will loose their plumpness and structure. Making sure your drink plenty of water (the amount necessary depends on the individual and how much exercise resulting in water loss your involved in) will also help clear you body of the toxins both produced internally and created during food metabolism.
- Digestion; beyond what you choose to eat – poor digestion and absorption can also have quite the impact on the health of your skin. You might be eating all the right foods yet for one reason or another your not getting the nutrients you need. Insufficient “good gut bacteria” and Candida yeast overgrowth can also contribute to skin problems. Imbalances in the digestive tract, one too many toxins getting through effectively gate crashing and the bodies ability to detoxify itself will start to weaken…poor skin health is just one of the many consequences. Check out this post for simple tips to improve your digestion.
- Limit the toxins you have control over – oxidants causing oxidative damage such as pollution, cigarette smoke, fried and burnt foods, processed cooking oils…alcohol and sugar…should all be reduced and avoided. Our skin cells and the DNA within them is particularly sensitive to oxidative damage and the more exposure they get the more likely it’s ability to generate new skin cells will be hindered.
My skin greatly improved in terms of my acne breakouts when I eliminated dairy and wheat from my diet. Aside from the food I eat I’ve found Apple Cider Vinegar to not only have improved my digestion but also and possibly consequently my skin. It’s definitely clearer and more radiant since I started drinking it twice daily (quite religiously!) I’ve also recently started using it (1 part water to 1 part vinegar) directly on my skin as a toner which is working a treat!
Do you feel nutrition has a role to play in skin health? I’d love to hear your success stories!