Having good skin isn’t all about topical creams, nor is it all about genetics. In fact, nutrition is one of the most effective ways to improve skin quality. What we see on the surface of the skin are cells that were made deeper in the dermis. These skin cells are pushed up, layer by layer, until they reach the surface. This process takes around 4 weeks and so changes in the diet that affect skin quality might take a while to be noticeable.
Nearly all nutrients will play a role in skin health but I have picked out a few whose role is especially important;
Omega 3 Fats
Each cell is surrounded by a phospholipid bilayer, which simply means two layers of fats that make up the cell walls, which incorporate dietary fats. The most important of these fats is omega 3, not only as they form part of the structure but also because they have anti-inflammatory properties.
As omega 6 fats can crowd out omega 3 we can tip the balance by focusing on omega 3 foods as well as using less of the omega 6 where possible. Aside from reducing inflammation, omega 3 fats can reduce insulin-like growth factor, also known as IGF-1, which may help to reduce spots and blemishes.
The foods to focus on are walnuts, linseeds, pumpkin, chia, hemp, leafy green vegetables, corn and soya beans. Don’t forget that there is also purslane, which is officially a weed, but can be grown very easily in any garden or window box.
Fat metabolism is enhanced by biotin and so helps reduce the incidence of dry skin. It is rich in hazelnuts, almonds, Swiss chard, tomato, avocado, soy beans and sweet potato. In practical terms, getting enough biotin could be as simple as having a baked sweet potato with tofu and hazelnuts.
The formation of collagen, the flexible structure that helps skin elasticity, relies on vitamin C, which also has antioxidant properties. Found in many foods including berries, peppers, kiwi, citrus, kale and papaya, most vegetarian and vegan diets tend to be naturally rich in vitamin C foods. However, as the nutrient is water soluble and can be flushed away, make sure to eat vitamin C rich foods daily.
Supplements – Vertese®Berry C Complex delivers 600mg of vitamin C in two capsules.
Zinc has antioxidant properties and can also help reduce inflammation. It can also help healing, and along with omega 3, can help reduce inflammation in the skin.
For vegetarians and vegans, the best zinc-rich foods to look out for are sesame and pumpkin seeds, lentils, tofu, chickpeas, cashew nuts and quinoa.