As many of you know I spent some time up in Tauranga last month doing a dermo-nutrition course which was absolutely out of this world. I've come back with a lot more knowledge around how our food can affect our skin - it's far more than you realise! Did you know in relation to your skin, there are SIX key nutrients essential for skin health? Many of these you can get from diet alone - some not so easy.
This is a huge topic, but to make things clear and easy for you I will discuss each of the six key nutrients, their benefits and how you can get them in your diet. I will also briefly cover digestive health and foods to avoid if you have specific skin concerns.
The six KEY nutrients for skin health.
* Supports collagen and keratin production
* Helps cells produce normally
* Promotes healing
* Keeps skin strong and moist
Food sources of Vitamin A:
* Leafy green vegetables
**Note: One carrot per day will give you your daily requirement of Vitamin A**
* Support microcirculation
* Regulates cell turnover (folate)
* Releases sebum (oil) onto the skin
* Required for cell energy
* Stress resilience vitamins
Food sources of B Vitamins
* Brewers yeast
* Leafy greens
* Hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds
* Pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds
**Note: In addition to foods we eat it is advised to supplement with a B complex. When choosing a B complex ensure the supplement has equal levels of B2 & B6 (eg: 25-50mg of each)**
* Vital in the production of collagen
* Essential for wound healing
* Strengthens capillaries
* Powerful antioxidant
* Supports liver function
Food Sources of Vitamin C:
* Red capsicum
* Citrus fruits
**Note: Half a lemon squeezed into a glass of luke warm water will give you your daily Vitamin C requirement**
* Transports Vitamin A
* Crucial in wound healing
* Regulates sebaceous glands (oil glands)
* Produces collagen & hyaluronic acid
* Is a co-enzyme for 70 enzymes
Food Sources of Zinc:
* Oysters (very rich in zinc)
* Nuts, Seeds, Whole grains
**Note: Zinc testing is readily available at health foods shop. If you test low for Zinc, supplements are recommended**
Essential Fatty Acids (EFA's) Omega 3 & 6
* Essential for cell function
* Are incorporated into the cell membrane
* Released in the upper layers of the skin to form "bi layers" (skins natural protection)
* Omega 6 is required to prevent pores from blocking
* Anti inflammatory
* Healing on the skins surface
* Help nutrients reach cells
* Forms ceramides (natural moisturiser)
Food Sources of EFA's
* Oily fish (salmon, sardines, mackerel) - Omega 3
* Walnuts, flaxseed/oil - Omega 6
* Wild rice
**Note: Supplementing is highly recommended - while we can get a portion of EFA's from diet, most modern diets don't have a consistent amount daily EFA's. While fish oil is popular for Omega 3 intake, Omega 6 is also essential as it is converted to Linoleic acid (layman terms forms natural moisture factor in the skin. Omega 3 is not capable of linoleic acid conversion). Flaxseed oil contains both Omega 3 and 6**
* Hydrates the body and deeper layers of the skin
* Facilitates the removal of waste
* Allows nutrients to be delivered to the skin
* Prevents digestive issues (which can inhibit absorption of nutrients)
Tips for more Water intake:
* Lemon water in the morning before breakfast
* Always carry a water bottle with you
* Drink caffeine free herbal teas
* Always accept water when its offered
* Up your water intake when exercising
* Limit alcohol and caffeine (dehydrating)
**Note: 70-80% of skins hydration comes from the Dermis (deep layer of skin) and it reduces to 13% in the stratum corneum (very superficial layer of skin) - water is ESSENTIAL for skin health!**
The importance of digestion.
"You are what you eat" should be re-phrased as "You are what you absorb"...
The ability for your body to absorb nutrients is dependant the health of your digestive system - if you are suffering from any digestive issues you won't be absorbing all of the nutrients that you could be.
Absorption of nutrients begins in the small intestine, then sent to the liver for filtering/checking then released into the bloodstream. There are a hundred trillion bacteria in the gut (some good, some bad!) Probiotics help with digestion, keeping the gut healthy and in balance.
Tips for better Digestion:
* Avoid fluid around meal times - fluids dilute digestive juices/make them less efficient at breaking down food.
* Focus on chewing - "puree" your food as much as possible before swallowing.
* Smaller, more regular meals place less strain on the digestive system than eating large meals.
* Peppermint tea aids digestion and reduces bloating
* Avoid chewing gum which stimulates digestion and acid release in the stomach
Foods to avoid when treating specific skin conditions.
Do you suffer with sensitised, red, irritated skin and broken capillaries? Many foods can exacerbate these symptoms, these are categorised as "heating foods". Here is a list of foods to avoid and some alternative "cooling foods".
* Hot and spicy foods (chilli, curry, cayenne) - replace with fresh herbs, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, cardamon, cinnamon, cumin, coriander etc
* Oranges, orange juice and strawberries (naturally heating in the skin) - replace with any other seasonal fruit
* Peanuts, peanut butter and cashews (high rate of intolerance and reactions) - replace with tahini, almond butter, almonds and brazil nuts
* Commercially prepared chocolate (high in saturated fat and dairy) - replace with raw cacao, high percentage dark chocolate, raw treats
* Caffeine, alcohol (especially red wine) and energy drinks (all vasodilators/weaken capillaries) - replace with herbal teas, kombucha, water with freshly cut fruits and herbs
Is your skin congested with blackheads, prone to breakouts and bumpy? There are many common congesting foods (especially those high in saturated fat) that can irritate and inflame the surface of the skin. These are categorised as "congesting foods". Here is a list of foods to avoid and some alternative "smoothing foods". (Particularly important if you suffer from acne).
* Cheese (highly processed and high in saturated fat) - replace with nutritional yeast (similar savoury flavour), hummus or avocado
* Full cream dairy products - replace with unsweetened rice, oat or coconut milk
* Red meat (specifically sausages, mince, and pork with are high in saturated fat) - replace with grilled lean meat, chicken, turkey, fish, lentils, beans, eggs, tempeh.
* Chips and fried food (high in saturated fat) - grilled, steamed and baked foods
* Protein powders/bars (highly processed) - replace with eggs, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, spirulina, beans.