Diet is the most important part of a good skin care routine. As the old saying goes, beauty truly does come from within. No matter how much money or effort you sink into expensive facial products, skin will almost always reflect what’s being put into the body. (A few lucky people can eat anything and never get a pimple, but that’s unusual.)
It’s as much about what you don’t eat as what you do. A diet rich in high-glycemic carbohydrates, such as refined grains and sugar, has been shown to trigger breakouts. By boosting the body’s blood sugar too quickly, the pancreas produces extra insulin to bring those levels down, which also triggers production in the sebaceous glands. These make sebum, a good oil which flushes out dead skin cells and keeps our skin lubricated via pores, but too much of it results in jammed pores, whiteheads, and blackheads. Milk also triggers sebum production, while some vegetable oils (safflower, sesame, corn, sunflower) promote inflammation.
The good news is that you can eat and drink your way to beautiful skin. Incorporate the following foods into your diet as much as possible, while minimizing your intake of the foods mentioned above.
Remember your parents telling you that eating carrots would give you great eyesight? (It didn’t seem to work for me; I just got carrot-coloured hair instead.) It was vitamin A that they were talking about, a powerful antioxidant that comes in the form of beta-carotene in carrots. It helps maintain good vision, teeth, and bones, while ensuring normal skin cell development and firm skin tone.
The goal is to get lots of vitamin C, which is another great antioxidant that will make skin smooth and taut by boosting collagen production. Vitamin C supports the immune system, helps skin to heal properly, and can help you attain that glowing look. Blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and black currants are particularly rich in vitamin C, and conveniently lower in sugar than many other fruits.
3. Brazil nuts
Only a small handful of Brazil nuts can provide your daily supply of selenium, yet another antioxidant that works alongside vitamins A and C to boost the immune system. A diet rich in selenium can protect against melanoma, sun damage, and age spots. Other good sources are seeds (sunflower, chia, pumpkin), wheat germ, and meat. Many nuts also contain vitamin E, which helps hold in moisture.
A humble sprig of parsley is surprisingly high in vitamin K, which helps skin to heal itself and promotes elasticity and good skin tone. Also loaded with vitamins A and C, parsley can cleanse the urinary tract and kidneys, while clearing blemishes and reducing redness. Parsley’s volatile oils have antibacterial and antifungal properties that disinfect pores and prevent acne.
5. Whole grains
Packed with fibre, whole grains are good for reducing the inflammation caused by their overly refined counterparts. They stabilize blood sugar levels and reduce insulin spikes. Whole grains contain zinc, which is repairs skin damage, maintains smoothness and suppleness, and regulates sebum production. The B-vitamin biotin found in whole grains assists skin cells in processing fats, without which skin becomes dry and scaly.
Remember, too, to drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated. Herbal and green teas are also good, but keep away from sugary juices and soda.