The ABC of Nutrition and Skin

Let’s get back to basics – there is no point in smearing expensive creams on your face if the fundamentals aren’t in place. That means no smoking, adequate sun protection and yes a skin friendly diet. I could write for hours about the gut microbiome, glycemic index and quote innumerable scientific papers but the easiest way to remember skin food is to think of ABC. I’ll try to restrain myself and keep to a few lines on benefits and sources of each micro and macronutrient.

  • Vitamin A Essential in skin repair, as an antioxidant, encouraging cell turnover, skin plumping and fighting acne.
  • Good Sources of Vitamin A: Cod Liver oil, eggs, yellow and dark green fruit and vegetables
  • Vitamin B complex as a group have wide-reaching beneficial effects on skin, hair and nails, ranging from better hydration, minimising pigmentation and acne, cell repair and collagen formation.
  • Good Sources of Vitamin B: Green Leafy Vegetables, nuts, seeds and fish
  • Vitamin C has antioxidant, wound healing, collagen formation, skin brightening and hydrating properties.
  • Good Sources of Vitamin C: Citrus Fruits, cantaloupe and watermelon, mango
  • Vitamin the ‘sunshine vitamin’ protects against UV damage, reduces skin inflammations and contributes to skin cellular repair.
  • Good sources of Vitamin D: sunmshine, eggs, fortified dairy products, oily fish
  • Vitamin E is another antioxidant and fights inflammation.
  • Good sources of Vitamin E:vegetable oil, nuts, wheatgerm, green vegetables
  • omega Fatty acids play a role in the health of cell membranes (the outer protective coat). So they help keep water and nutrients in your cells and remove waste. They also have a significant anti-inflammatory role.
  • Good Sources of omega Fatty acids: fish oils (omega 3) plant oils and leafy vegetables (omega 6)
  • beta Glucan and Glycemic Index. Beta glucans improve the skin barrier and help with hydration.  Glycemic index describes how quickly a carbohydrate is broken down and absorbed into bloodstream. Foods with a high glycemic index cause blood sugar spikes which can lead to inflammation, a rise in hormones that increase sebaceous glands in the skin and ultimately the formation of acne.
  • Good Sources of Beta Glucan: oats and barley
  • H2O – water. We all understand how important it is to stay hydrated but this has to be coupled with essential fatty acid intake (see above), as they improve our cells’ ability to hold water.

and then I skip a few to

  • Protein Building block of all tissues. It’s recommended we eat 0.8g per kg per day.
  • Phytonutrients Plant based compounds that work as photo protectors and antioxidants.
  • Phytonutrients are particularly abundant in kale, broccoli, apricots, strawberries and tomatoes.
  • Zinc has anti-inflammatory properties and can help clear acne-causing bacteria from the skin.
  • Good Sources of Zinc: oysters, meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, nuts and seeds.

 

Interestingly many of these nutrients have final common pathways in our food. Green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, lean protein, oily fish, eggs, fruit and complex wholegrain carbohydrates.

Next week I’ll discuss the top ten foods for healthy skin.