Can you clear your skin with just a change up in your diet? How about putting all your focus into the perfect skincare routine, will that clear things up? Putting either approach into practice by itself is a short-sighted way to fix your skin, however, the real magic happens when we combine the two. Getting the right foods into your body, keeping the wrong foods out, while consistently crushing your skincare game will have a huge say in the happiness and clarity of your skin.
Part 1 – Eating for Clear Skin
Let's tackle the food side of the equation. When it comes to clearing breakouts, there’s the good food and not-so-good-food. What makes some foods better than others? While all food has its place, packing our diet full of mostly healthy, nutrient dense choices, gives our body all the nutritional building blocks needed for healthy, clear skin. As an added benefit, eating for health and eating for clear skin are two sides of the same coin, improving one area carries over to the other.
Setting a goal to simply ‘eat healthily’ is too vague. We’ve all been there, your day gets chaotic and busy, hunger hits hard as your energy dips, with your willpower gone you reach out for the nearest, tastiest, edible thing, preferably something covered with icing and sprinkles, sure, you get an immediate pick-me-up but also take a step back on clearing your skin. To combat this, we need a clear roadmap of the types of food that align with our goals, as well as those that don’t.
Your Food Roadmap to Clear Skin
Vitamin C is the anti-ageing soldier your skin needs. Playing a role in the production and maintenance of collagen, vitamin C builds up the structure of your skin, leaving it feeling fuller, firmer and younger. Be sure to get plenty of these into your diet:
- Citrus Fruits
- Red Peppers
Who doesn’t want smoother, fresher looking skin? How about some sun damage repair and protection? Vitamin A speeds up cell turnover, by eating foods rich in beta-carotene (which our body converts into vitamin A) you’ll slough off unwanted dead skin cells quicker, leaving you looking fresh-faced. Some great sources of vitamin A:
- Dark Orange Veg (squash, sweet potato, butternut, pumpkin)
- Red Veg (beetroot, chilli’s, radishes, red cabbage, bell peppers and tomato)
- Leafy Greens (kale, cabbage, collard greens, broccoli, spinach)
Vitamin E is part of our skin’s front-line defence system, beefing up the barrier between us and our environment. Getting enough vitamin E in your diet will have your skin feeling both protected and hydrated.
- Nuts and Seeds (almonds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds)
- Leafy Greens (spinach, broccoli)
When it comes to minerals and skin health, Zinc and Iron are the main players. Zinc battles back against dullness, involved in the natural sloughing off dead skin cells. Iron helps oxygenate the skin, leaving you with a glowing complexion. Be sure to include:
- Lean Meat
- Nuts and Seeds
- Whole grains
Consistently under-hydrating leads to dry, tight, dull skin that’s less resilient to our surroundings. Breakouts strike when our skin isn’t running optimally, so staying topped up with your water intake is an easy way to help keep pesky breakouts at bay.
- While overall intake varies per person, aim for 2 – 3 litres every day.
- Play around with your intake and see what works best for you.
- If you’ve been under-drinking, be prepared for an adjustment period of plenty of bathroom visits but don’t stress, it’ll pass.
Foods to Avoid
The jury is still out on the link between dairy and blemishes, a definite breakout trigger for some, while others (unfairly) can indulge spot-free. Be your own experiment and lower/eliminate dairy for 10 days, take a photo at the start and another after the 10 days are up, any clear changes?
Keep in mind that not all dairy is created equally and it’s often the lower fat dairy products and skimmed milk varieties that cause skin issues. Low-fat dairy and skimmed milk have a thinner, more watery consistency than their full cream counterparts. Companies add back whey and casein to their low-fat products to improve the creaminess and texture, its these two dairy proteins that are linked with breakouts.
If dairy doesn’t cause any skin issues for you, aim for high-quality dairy from grass-fed/pasture raised animals.
Acne, psoriasis, rosacea and eczema are inflammatory skin conditions made worse by, you guessed it, more inflammation. When we eat something full of sugar, ranging from choc-chip-muffins to white bread, our body produces a spike of insulin to stabilise our blood sugar levels. Anytime your insulin increases so does inflammation, and with it, your breakouts.
If you’re battling with breakouts, lowering your sugar intake could be well worth the willpower-struggle to see positive results for not only your skin but also your health.
In Part 2, we’ll talk about Your Anti-Acne Skincare Routine... coming soon...