What you eat can help keep skin young and healthy

Christian Coates explores the links between dermatology, skin health and diet


The relationship between diet and dermatology has been controversial with research sometimes claiming opposing results. It is only recently that dermatologists have been unable to dismiss the association between diet and skin health.

Nutrition has been shown to play a principle and multi-faceted role in skin health via a variety of pathways within skin biology. The onset of many skin conditions, including acne, psoriasis, atopic dermatitis (eczema), rosacea and many more, can be critically affected by nutritional patterns.

It has been demonstrated that diet and nutritional habits can help prevent and reduce the severity of dermatological problems. Foods that are believed to be good for the skin include those rich in anti-oxidants, and which contain hydrating and anti-inflammatory properties.

A lot of skin conditions are due to inflammation and if this doesn’t subside it can lead to further problems. Therefore, it is essential to eat foods that help to reduce the inflammation, such as tuna, salmon and mackerel or walnuts and flaxseeds, which are all good sources of omega 3 fatty acids.

Also try to add more beans and lentils to your diet; they are great sources of fibre, which can lower inflammation-level markers in the blood. Another tip is to use olive oil which contains aleocanthal and can prevent the body from producing compounds that cause inflammation.

It has been demonstrated that diet and nutritional habits can help prevent and reduce the severity of dermatological problems

Try to limit your intake of high-sugar foods and trans-fats; the latter can be found in margarine and spreads, snack foods and fried foods. Trans-fat can worsen the problem by making your body produce more cyclooxygenase-2 enzymes, one of the major causes of inflammation.

Alongside foods that reduce inflammation, there are a variety of other nutrients, foods and diets that have been shown to be beneficial. It is believed a diet rich in fruit and vegetables is associated with a lower prevalence of psoriasis. This is due to fruits and vegetables containing anti-oxidants, such as carotenoids, flavonoids and vitamin C. Anti-oxidant agents help to promote the regulation of oxidative stress and anti-oxidative defence in psoriasis.

Studies have also shown zinc to be beneficial to the skin as it aids healing, fights free radicals and prevents acne formation by regulating the activity of oil glands. Foods high in zinc include crab, lobster, nuts, beans, whole grains and some dairy products. Zinc works in conjunction with vitamin C, which has its own beneficial impacts.

Vitamins D and A are also essential to healthy skin, as vitamin D helps to reduce inflammation and vitamin A reduces the production of the natural oil made by your body. The right balance of oil on the skin is essential as an excess can lead to acne formation.

Another regime that is shown to alleviate acne symptoms is a low-glycemic diet. Diets composed of foods with a high glycemic index can result in hyperglycemia and increased formation of free insulin-like growth factors that contribute to acne pathogenesis.

In addition, milk and other dairy products seem to show a similar response to a high glycemic index diet as they consist of more than 60 molecules able to cause a glycemic increase and an insulinemic response.

It is important to drink plenty of water; the body needs at least four to six glasses of water a day to hydrate and flush out toxins. Many people claim to have been cured of illness and disease, including diabetes, cancer and degenerative heart disease, through fresh juicing fasts and diets, like the Gerson Therapy.

Then there is the benefit of losing unwanted weight, which follows when you eat healthily and include juicing in your everyday meal plan.

Furthermore, food allergies may be a cause of dermatology problems. Foods, including milk, soy, wheat, peanuts and fish, have been shown to have a direct impact on the skin if you are intolerant or allergic.

Christian Coates founded Soulmatefood in 2006, based on the conviction that he could bring the power of healthy cuisine direct to people’s doorsteps, to help make a real difference to their health and wellbeing.

PREVENTION

Cellulite and ageing

A healthy diet may help prevent cellulite and aid anti-ageing. If dehydrated cells are a cause of cellulite, lecithin is a vital component to cellulite elimination as it helps by repairing tissues, filling in and rebuilding cell walls, which in turn helps organs to be fully hydrated and function at a higher level.

Foods that contain lecithin include eggs, soy products, peanuts, oranges, potatoes, spinach, lettuce and tomatoes.

Essential fatty acids 3, 6 and 9, which also help to attract water and prevent water loss, are found in salmon, herring, sardines, tuna, green leafy vegetables, grains, almonds, pistachios, avocados, macadamia, olive oil, pecans and pumpkin seeds.

Alongside dehydration, it is believed that free radicals can lead to oxidative stress, which can be a cause of not only cellulite but also ageing and wrinkles.

It has been acknowledged that vitamins C, E, A and polyphenols will help prevent these problems. Fruit, including oranges, grapes, pomegranates and goji berries, and vegetables, notably carrots, as well as whole grains, nuts and green tea may be beneficial.