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Nutrition for Healthy Skin

Top 11 Beauty Foods for Healthy Skin

Eat plenty of these healthful fruit and vegetables and just watch your skin start to glow, blemishes start to clear, and pores become smaller.

  • Berries: blueberry, raspberry, boysenberry, strawberry are all rich in anti-oxidants
  • Broccoli: best eaten raw (just grated with some homemade – never store-bought! – mayonnaise), but also lightly steamed. Over-cooking destroys valuable nutrients.
  • Leafy greens: eat as much as you can as often as you can. Spinach, silver beet, cabbage, Asian brassicas and are all full of vitamins and minerals.
  • Tomatoes: better for you cooked than raw, surprisingly. Full of vitamin C. Buy organic, however, or grow your own. They easy to grow – just like weeds.
  • Alliums: garlic, onions, shallots, red onion – eat them every day. Garlic helps ward off colds and flu, and the others are equally good for you while helping your food taste great.
  • Oatmeal: eat this slow-cooked, rather than instant, from packets for soluble fibre and B-complex vitamins.
  • Olive oil: rich in the right kinds of fatty acids olive oil is excellent for salads and cooking. Don’t use any of the cheaper oils in your cooking, they have the opposite effect from olive oil and are bad for you.
  • Salmon: a great source of calcium (do eat enough each day to avoid osteoporosis when you get older?) and omega fish oils. Both of which your body needs daily to function effectively.
  • Soy: a great dairy substitute, soy comes in milk, yoghurt, bean and tofu forms, among others. But very high percentages of soy is now genetically modified so be careful where yours comes from. To avoid this, buy organic.
  • Water: drink plenty and often. Did you know that hunger pangs are most often thirst in disguise? Any time you’re hungry but know you shouldn’t eat, drink a large glass of water and watch those hunger pangs disappear. Take care where you source your water, most city supplies have added chemicals so only drink filtered water.

The dietary secrets of great skin

By Dr Frances Pitsilis

MB BS (Mon) Dip Obst, Dip Occup Med, FRNZCGP

If I told you that a certain diet and certain supplements would make your skin look and feel great, would you believe me?

If I also said that not only would this diet help your skin but it would help you cope better with stress, think more clearly, lose weight, reduce allergy symptoms, and reduce your risk of diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and stroke, would you still believe me?

Well, it is true. The ideal diet for your health will also help the whole of you including your skin – your largest organ, of course. This ideal diet is actually not new. In fact it is extremely old – six million years old, but more about that later.

The contents of the ideal diet for your skin and your health go like this – eat adequate protein (the size and thickness of your palm) three times a day. Protein sources include fish, meat, chicken, nuts, seeds, avocado and tofu, as well as eggs. You should also eat lots of fruit and vegetables and fill in the gaps with nuts, seed and fruit.

You may notice that there has been no mention of grains, wholegrains or dairy. We have been upright creatures for six million years and have been in our present form, Homo Sapien, for two and a half million years. For virtually all of our ancestral history we have been hunter gatherers – we hunted anything we could catch or kill like animals, birds and fish, and we gathered up nuts, seeds, roots, plants and fruit.

It was only ten thousand years ago that Homo Sapiens decided to get together in large groups of people and form population groups. When food ran out through hunter gathering, we invented agriculture which brought us the grains, cereals, beef and dairy.

We know from archaeological research and by looking at today’s modern tribes with no western contact, that their diet is on average 60% protein; the rest is mainly vegetables with some nuts, seeds and fruit. These people do not have atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) or high cholesterol. The moment modern tribes start to eat a western diet they develop heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

You only have to look at South Auckland to see Pacific Island groups whose traditional diet has been fish, pork, plants and fruit, who have all become obese and diabetic as a result of eating a western diet.

What is it about grains, you might ask? All grains break down to sugar, and sugar is bad for us because it causes increased stress on the body’s system which causes more inflammation and disease.

Inflammation is the body’s response to an injury. The inflammatory diseases include things like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, heart attack, stroke, arthritis, allergy, obesity, asthma, hypertension and abnormal heart rhythms, as well as cancer.

The other thing that our stone-age ancestors got a lot of in their diet was omega 3 fish oils which were plentiful in wild meat. We don’t eat wild meat anymore so it is a good idea to take an omega 3 fish oil supplement. One of the other reasons for taking omega 3 fish oil as a supplement is because the omega 6 to omega 3 ratio in our diet has fallen too far in favour of the omega 6.

Omega 6 fats are found in margarine spreads and processed foods. These omega 6 fats are known to cause more inflammation and thus more disease. You only need to look at an Asian teenager to know whether they are eating a traditional Asian diet or a western diet – the one eating the western diet has the acne.

Not only is this stone-age, or Paleolithic diet good for your general health and your skin but it will reduce acne, as well as polycystic ovary syndrome. Many therapists have clients with adult acne who can also have excess hair. What underlies this is insulin resistance – a condition where the body does not cope very well with sugar and starches, and has to make more and more insulin to help the body cope with these, which it then turns into sugar. As a result, the hormones don’t do very well and produce acne and excessive hair. A diet avoiding grains, starches and sugars works very well for these people, helping them lose weight and reduce acne.

Another very important reason why diet is important universally is because 70% of the immune glands in our bodies live around the large bowel – this is called the gut associated lymphoid tissue (GALT). This means that what the gut sees, the immune system sees. On the surface lining of the large bowel live 2.2kgs of friendly bacteria – these friendly bacteria amount to about 10 billion cells.

Running between the GALT and the friendly bacteria are some immune cells that travel up to the surface and ‘check on the environment’ that this organism is in, and then go back to the immune system and report. If they see something they do not recognise, like artificial colours and sweeteners, too many omega 6 fatty acids etc, they will go back to the immune system and say, “There is trouble out there, get the troops going”. This results in more inflammation in your body which may come out as migraine headaches, more hayfever, hypertension, skin rashes, acne, etc.

So, what is my advice for the best diet to help weight loss, stress, acne, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, allergies, and all sorts of illness? Eat the Paleolithic Diet – this is the diet we were made to eat.

Eat adequate, good quality protein. This doesn’t mean lots of red meat and bacon. Excessive red meat increases colon cancer and heart disease. Cured meats like bacon can also increase cancer. Eat enough lean red meat – perhaps one to three meals per week – to prevent anaemia and iron deficiency, especially in menstruating women.

Red meat almost exclusively provides the body with Vitamin B12 which is important for the brain, nerves and mental health. Red meat is an important source of zinc, which is important for 200 reactions in the body. Zinc helps you lose weight, helps the thyroid, immune system, brain, hormones and fertility. It is difficult to find zinc in plant foods.

Eat other sources of good quality protein, like lean chicken, fish and tofu, and plant protein like nuts, seeds, and avocado. Protein sources in food are important providers of the body’s building blocks, known as amino acids.

Amino acids are precursors of neurotransmitters (brain chemicals), and the protein components of muscles and organs.

Eat lots of vegetables and some fruit. If you eat at least eight vegetables and fruit per day, you will get many antioxidant vitamins that prevent disease. The main antioxidant vitamins are vitamins A, C, and E – these are important for the skin, of course, as well as the whole body.

Vegetables also provide folic acid, magnesium, and B vitamins – all of these are important for the brain and to prevent depression and stress. Magnesium helps 300 reactions in the body – I call it the number one, blockbuster mineral! Zinc is the number two blockbuster.

Of course, B vitamins are important for the skin, too. But one vitamin, vitamin D is a tricky one. You see, we are constantly trying to avoid the sun, which is our main source of vitamin D (as well as organ meats like liver and fish). I believe we have gone too far in protecting ourselves from sun damage and skin cancer, by depriving ourselves of enough sun. Of course, don’t place your face in the sun, but get 15-20 minutes of daily sun if you have pale skin – longer if your skin is darker.

Do eat some grains and starchy foods, but low amounts if you have acne or weight problems.

Vitamin D is not actually a vitamin – it’s a hormone. It’s important for every single cell in the body, and has been found to prevent breast cancer, colon and prostate cancers. It protects the heart, lowers blood pressure and helps you lose weight. I often pull out the “helps you lose weight” card, because I know that people will listen!

My message is that we need to eat the way we were originally meant to eat, but with balance.