In a celebrity-obsessed world we're all feeling the pressure to look fantastic. Women in particular hanker after the peaches and cream complexion of Anne Hathaway (pictured above) or the luminous glow of Kate Winslet's skin. It is rumoured that celebrities are willing to go to extreme lengths to achieve their flawless features. Costly facials using the venom of snakes and bees are favoured by Gwyneth Paltrow, J-Lo is a fan of face masks using the human placenta, whilst Halle Berry opts for fruit-based exfoliants. Many celebrities, including Nicole Kidman, have also admitted to using botox to work away fine lines.
In the UK alone, £600million a year is spent on skin care, with three-quarters of women saying that they worry about the state of their skin over and above their weight or hair. With so many lotions and potions on offer and with the popularity of cosmetic procedures going through the roof, it can be hard to pin down what the best route to take is.
Back to basics
Recently though, there has been a big shift in opinion on what the best way of achieving healthy skin is. Medicinal chef and author of the best-selling The Clear Skin Cookbook, Dale Pinnock believes that having a clear, luminous complexion has far less to do with what goes onto the skin than what goes into the body. He has been combining nutritional science with culinary arts to prove this point. Dale suffered with severe acne for many years and through his studies and making significant changes to his diet managed to eat himself to clear, healthy skin. He is now helping others to do the same.
He has also had fantastic result using diet to fight aging, as well as many other common skin conditions. Below is a brief guide to his philosophy on getting the results you want for your skin, whether it is as part of an ongoing routine or for the treatment of a specific problem.
There are some delicious and easy to incorporate foods that plump up the skin and encourage rehydration into your daily diet.
- A natural source of fat soluble antioxidants and high in Beta-carotene, sweet potatoes help to protect the collagen in the skin.
- Avocados are rich in Vitamin E which is vital in helping the skin to retain moisture.
- Vitamin C again encourages the production of collagen which makes the skin look firm and smooth, and is found in berries and citrus fruits.
Give your skin a healthy glow
Any non-processed foods that are high in B Vitamins will give your skin luminosity and brightness. The best of the bunch include multi-grain bread, mushrooms, brown rice and asparagus.
Keep the skin tight and line-free
Onions, leeks, eggs and garlic are a great source of the mineral Sulphur. This acts as a strengthening agent for the skin, forming strong bonds in all the skin cells and making it much more supple.
Specific skin conditions that can be treated with changes in diet
Oily Skin and acne
If your skin is shiny and you are prone to break outs, it is usually because too much sebum is being released from the skin's sebaceous glands. This is most often caused by higher-than-normal androgen hormone levels, for example high testosterone. In turn, high levels of insulin in the body cause a release in those hormones.
The key to controlling this condition is to move towards a low GI diet. This means choosing foods that release energy very slowly to avoid blood-sugar spikes.
The best foods to include in your diet for acne prone or oily skin include good quality protein sources such as tuna, foods that contain high levels of zinc like prawns and pumpkin seeds, plus plenty of fresh vegetables (especially red peppers) and whole-grain brown rice.
It is possible to combine these dietary changes with the use of zinc supplements, but always try to get the necessary nutrients and minerals through food first.
Eczema, and dry patches
Eczema is categorised as an inflammatory condition. The immune system becomes highly sensitized to something you have eaten or put on your skin and this causes a flare up. The good news is that controlling inflammation with dietary changes is possible.
To combat eczema and dry patches try including plenty of oily fish like salmon or mackerel in your diet. These are extremely high in Omega 3 which helps the body to create its own natural anti-inflammatory compounds. Tomatoes and beetroot are also great for controlling dry skin as they are rich in fat soluble antioxidants. It is also important to avoid too much Omega 6 which is found in vegetable oil.
Healthy skin food checklist
Fill your diet with foods that are high in:
- Vitamin A: will improve skin tone and regulate sebaceous secretions.
- Vitamin C: will help acne heal faster and in the formation of scar tissue. Vitamin C will also give the immune system a boost.
- Zinc: controls androgen hormones and their influence on the sebaceous glands, thus reducing sebum production. Zinc is also an aid to healing wounds.
- Omega 3 fatty acids: these are the number one nutrients for oily skin. They'll speed up healing times on acne and reduce the appearance.
- Fat-soluble antioxidants: are great for managing inflammation in active acne.
More hints and tips for healthy skin
- Drink at least 2 litres of water every day.
- Get a Fruit Juicer and make fruit and vegetable smoothies for a convenient way of getting lots of nutrients in one boost.
- Pomegranates, kale, flaxseed oil, and soy are great for nourishing the skin on your face.
Mangoes are wonderful for a clear complexion; rich in antioxidants are also great for anti-aging.
- Biotin found in wheat germ is essential for skin health; try wheat germ on yoghurt or in a smoothie.
- Avoid fried foods which will make your skin greasy and more prone to break outs.
- Food can also be used to make a great natural face mask. The best ingredients for hydration include banana, oatmeal, honey, and yogurt.
Finding and including foods for healthy skin in your diet is not impossible or even that difficult; it may take some planning, preparation and discipline, but the results are bound to be worth it.