Nutritious, wholesome food provides the building blocks for great skin, and of course feeling well and preventing disease. I am passionate about food and leading a healthy lifestyle. I have been researching the impact of foods for many years and while it is naive to believe that changing the way you eat is going to wipe out your existing wrinkles, it is just as naive to think you can eat what you want without any effect on your skin – you cannot eat junk and rely on a pot of face cream for healthy skin.
Hopefully some of the information here will motivate you to make a few changes and put you on the road to beautiful skin and bundles of energy.
Feeding your skin with optimum nutrition will result in clear, radiant, glowing skin and a sparkle in your eye. Better skin is ultimately about better health and nutrition is a major weapon in the battle against ageing. Growing older is ineveitable, looking older isn’t, we can do so much to take control over how we feel and look with food. Feeding your skin from within is essential, as our largest organ their is no doubt that the skin responds to what we eat, so solve some of your skin issues with improving your diet.
Skin cells rely on a balanced supply of nutrients to grow, strengthen and fight Free Radical damage, giving your body essential antioxidants and nutrients is an effective solution to fight ageing from the inside- we truly are what we eat. Neglecting to eat well can result in your skin ageing considerably faster and deficiencies of certain nutrients, such as vitamin A, B complex and Essential Fatty Acids can show in the skin as eczema and other skin conditions, it may even impair the skin’s ability to heal and repair itself. Skin is often the last to get it’s ration of nutrients, so it’s important to have a consistent diet with a variety of foods to give your body enough nutrients – supplements are also well worth taking, antioxidants and fatty acids in particular.
Eat Yourself Beautiful
Plenty of fresh, untreated foods are essential for the health of your entire body, the bonus is healthy, smooth, glowing skin with less skin problems like acne, ezcema and sensitivity – and definitely less wrinkles. Variety is the spice of life – and eating a varied diet is the best way to stay looking younger and prevent disease. Eat fresh wholefoods like – Oily fish, chicken, grains, fresh fruit and vegetables, oils, herbs and spices. Wholefood basically means it hasn’t undergone any processing and is as unrefined as possible, Wholefoods do not contain any added sugar, salt and fat – unlike the many food choices in the western diet today.
Foods To Avoid
- Burnt, brown or fried foods – these produce Free Radicals in the body
- Pesticides on fruit & veg – use organic where possible or grow your own
- Processed Foods
- Sugar – try Xylitol instead
The Best Way To Eat
I believe the best way to eat, to avoid premature ageing and promote good overall health – is an Anti-Inflammatory diet, rich in Antioxidants and Low Glycaemic Load (GL). First of all let’s understand Inflammation – this is a process that robs the skin of it’s youth, although inflammation is a natural healing reaction, it easily gets out of control and many researchers believe it is proving to be the basis of virtually every disease process from heart disease, cancer and dementia to skin problems including skin ageing. UV, pollution, ozone, smoking, all cause Free Radicals to be produced in the body – this triggers inflammation.
The GL Way of Eating
The GL diet has received a lot of media attention and lots of books have been written on the subject – fortunately it’s not hype, and here to stay. It has many positive medical benefits such as reducing adult-onset diabetes and heart disease. The perks of eating low GL is weight loss and a slim body and loads of energy – it is above all Anti-inflammatory. GL is a ranking system for Carbohydrate content in food portions based on their Glycaemic Index (GI) and portion size. The Glycaemic Index is a measure of the effects of carbohydrates on blood sugar levels, foods are rated to whether they are low (0-10), medium (11-19) or high (20+) GL. A high Glycaemic Load food, i.e – white bread, croissants and sugar releases sugars into the blood stream very quickly (known as a sugar spike) – this spike in insulin sets off a cascade of inflammation in the body. Low GL foods release sugar into the blood stream more steadily, resulting in a slow release of Insulin with very little inflammation. The Italian/Meditteranean diet is very low Gl and rich in Fish, fruits and vegetables with beneficial oils and herbs, it also helps that the food is delicious.
Increased blood sugar causes chemical reactions in the body which create inflammation, this leads to a damaging effect on skin cells and Collagen fibres and can result in inflexible collagen and wrinkle formation. To improve and protect our skin we need a low Glycaemic Load diet – rich in Antioxidants. One of the benefits I have found in this way of eating is a huge increase in energy levels, also by keeping blood sugar levels stable, you not only feel better but your not tempted by a high sugar treat or snack high in fat. We should aim to have something to eat every three hours to help keep blood sugar stable.
The Top Anti-Oxidant, Anti-Ageing Superfoods
By simply maintaining a sensible approach to the foods we eat, I admit we can’t be 100% saintly all the time, treats in moderation, but I try to eat the best I can 90 % of the time, and don’t feel bad if you have a treat occasionaly! Luckily, there is an abundant selection of readily available foods, (some call them Superfoods) that are rich in Antioxidants and Anti-inflammatory, here’s my pick of the best skin friendly foods ……..
The body could not grow or function without protein – it is the basic material of life. It’s the Amino Acids in Proteins that are actually the building blocks of our body, as the body can only manufacture 11 of the 20 Amino Acids that are essential for life, the remaining 9 must be supplied by our food. An ongoing lack of protein is first noticeable in the face, as the sharp definitions and contoured cheekbones start to turn soft and doughy. When the protein supply is lacking, the body is forced to feed upon itself, this causes both muscle and tissue to break down. Try to have a portion of protein with each meal – one egg, up to 70g of free-range skinless Chicken or turkey – white meat is high in Selenium which is essential for the proper function of some antioxidant enzymes, meat (red meat in moderation) or oily fish – Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon, Mackerel, goats and sheep’s cheese and yogurt, milk, Soya, and don’t forget about nuts and seeds! All of these are face firming protein.
Bright red and dark berries are rich in antioxidants and Vitamins that help protect the skin and fight disease. Blueberries, Blackberries, Strawberries, Raspberries, Cranberries, Black & Red cherries, red grapes, Boysenberries, Bilberries. Each berry brings its own unique nutrients to the table, so aim for a mixed handful every day and experiment. Use in a trail mix, on porridge and muesli, For more information read – The Nutritional Super Berries.
Fruits and Vegetables
Aim to eat around five to seven portions (a portion should fit in the palm of your hand), the more brightly coloured the better! Choose from a rainbow of beautiful Vitamin and Mineral rich fruits and Vegetables – Beta-Carotene rich red and yellow bell peppers, tomatoes, beets, courgettes, carrots, sweet potato, squash, red cabbage, cantaloupe melon, nectarines, apricots, Pomegranates, Apples have tons of antioxidants mostly in the skin so ensure you don’t peel. Dark leafy greens are high in Beta-Carotene and other anti-ageing antioxidant micro-nutrients including Vitamin E and manganese, good choices are – broccoli, Kale, Chard, Spinach and some lettuces like Romaine or Watercress and peppery Rocket. Beans have many health promoting benefits and are rich in B Vitamins and Potassium, this includes dried beans and green beans. There is so much choice available, so if you don’t like one type of vegetable, you can easily find another you love. Vegetables are also a source of fibre which is essential for a healthy digestive tract.
The Good Fats
Fat free diets are definitely trouble. Fats are essential for the functioning of our whole body, including the brain. We also need fats for our body to absorb fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K). However, some fats we should definitely put aside, these are a saturated fats found in full-fat dairy products and red meat, these can be pro-inflammatory in large amounts so portion size should be limited or eaten very occasionally. Hydrogenated Trans Fats shouldn’t really be in our food, so steer clear – look at the ingredients to check as they are a genuine danger to health.
Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are the good guys, they are called essential as they are essential for life – our body cannot make them and must obtain them from the food we eat. EFAs are divided into two main groups – Omega 3 and Omega 6, these must be consumed in the right ratio which is 2:1 of omega 6 to omega 3 – these fatty acids are much needed not only for your internal organs but for your cell membranes, plumping the skin and moisturising from inside. Other sources of good fats are – Nuts and Seeds (Flax seeds are excellent), Avocados and Olive oil. I take Udo’s Choice balanced Omega Oil – 1 tablespoon a day, also Viridian Beauty Oil is excellent, taking a supplement ensures you don’t become deficient in EFAs.
Low GI Grains
Opt for non refined grains like Organic rough old fashioned oats, Granary bread (or Rye or Spelt), Brown rice, Wholemeal pasta, Barley, Quinoa – these are all low GI and will release their energy slowly. Avoid the Carbohydrates which cause fast and high blood glucose responses like white bread, cakes, biscuits, pies, pizza.
A cup of fresh fruit and vegetable juice everyday will boost your nutrients and have a cleansing effective on your digestive system. Try juicing carrots, beetroot, apples, ginger and any fruit and veg that may go to waste. My favourite is apple, carrot and ginger.
Nuts and Seeds
The energy in nuts and seeds amazes me – they are the life source of plants and absolutely bursting with nutrients, including protein – so good for vegetarians. They are also packed with EFAs, vitamins (skin friendly Vitamin E) and many minerals. Some of the best are Sunflower Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds, Sesame. Most nuts are good, avoid too many Cashews (quite fattening). Walnuts and Almonds have a rich source of antioxidants and protein, aim for a handful of seeds and nuts everyday.
This is one spice to add to your shopping list! Turmeric and Ginger are both high in an antioxidant polyphenol called “Curcumin” and are very anti-inflammatory. A very skin friendly spice that turns everything a lovely yellow colour. I roast a mixture of vegetables and add one teaspoon of Turmeric powder and Olive oil and coat the vegetables.
Better Health Equals Better Skin
I have tried to show you some of the foods we should be eating, instead of concentrating on everything that we shouldn’t! and remember better health equals better skin, if you start introducing some of the good foods into your life you will age beautifully with heaps of energy and glowing skin.
Check the GI database for the GI of value of individual foods – http://www.glycemicindex.com
Patrick Holford is a leader in the GL way of eating – http://www.patrickholford.com/
Here’s some great books for recipe ideas and planning your food – some have a focus on skin and health.
The Low GL Diet Bible and Cookbooks – Patrick Holford – Check out his huge range of books on the GL principle, including recipe books.
Eat Yourself Beautiful – Liz Earle (Skin Secrets also has some wonderful recipes)
The Complete Italian Cookbook – Anthonio and Priscilla Carluccio
The Perricone Prescription – Dr Nicholas Perricone
Healing with Wholefoods – Paul Pitchford
Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill– Udos Erasmus, lots of information of Nutritional Oils
There is also a growing recipe collection in my Nutritional News section and articles on the benefits of individual foods that are particularly good for us and why, like Dark Chocolate, Red Wine and Tea.