Does Food Impact Your Skin?
Now we all know that what you eat affects your health, but what I’ve been thinking about a lot this week is how what you eat can affect your skin too. There are some dermatologists out there (I won’t name names) who say that what you eat doesn't make much of a difference to your skin but I think that is a hugely irresponsible statement, especially given there are so many of us who can feel the change in our skin almost as soon as we’ve eaten something we know doesn’t agree with us. Luckily, though, there has actually been a lot of research done into the effects of a person’s diet on their skin, so if you’re suffering at the moment have no fear as there are some easy steps you can take to help.
What’s the Problem?
The skin is the largest organ in the body and so it should come as no surprise that what we choose to eat makes a huge difference to it. With the vast array of foods now available to us as well as the many different skin types, there can be lots of dietary causes for skin problems.
Although some studies have shown that specific individual foods can affect your skin for good and bad, it’s your overall diet that can cause the most problems. Foods with a high Glycemic Index (GI) such as milk, white bread, ice cream, biscuits and microwave dinners all cause a rise in your blood glucose levels which in turn makes the natural oil secretions in your skin thicker and encourages spots to form. The damaged skin then also becomes far less resilient and can lose elasticity, making you more vulnerable to wrinkling, sagging and damage from ultraviolet (UV) light. Furthermore, the added glucose in your blood also increases your risk of developing insulin resistance which could lead to diabetes.
Those with existing conditions such as Psoriasis, Rosacea, Dermatitis, Lupus and Eczema, and those with autoimmune diseases which cause inflammatory symptoms in the skin, are the most at risk from a poor diet. For this group dairy is often a huge trigger for flare ups. This is firstly because dairy products are mucus-forming and difficult to digest (which is why so many people are lactose intolerant), and secondly because the hormones given to cows to promote milk production can cause the skin to produce excess sebum which exacerbates existing skin conditions.
What’s the Solution?
The best way to deal with any food-related changes to your skin is simple: Heal from the inside out and find a natural skincare routine that you can trust (and stick to it!)
Begin with your diet. Eating a varied and nutritious diet that is high in fresh fruits and vegetables and low in saturated fats is the first step to feeling better in your own skin. It is always important to make sure you eat enough protein (as your skin is made from it!) and there are also specific foods you can eat such as seaweed, flaxseeds, and walnuts that contain eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and have been proven to boost the skin’s natural resilience.
Next move onto your skin itself, healing from the outside using natural exfoliants, cleansing products and moisturisers. You can exfoliate using a mix of sugar or sea salt with an oil such as olive or almond (those with dry or damaged skin can skip this step). I then like to cleanse with a mix of castor oil and olive or almond oil (those with oily skin may want to use a very light layer of of coconut oil instead). Finally, you can moisturise using a topical of your choice, but please make sure to always read the label to check that all the ingredients are natural.
If you suffer from a specific skin condition it is always worth consulting your doctor before making any drastic changes to your routine, however, always remember that their advice will not always be right for you and if it is making your symptoms worse you can always stop immediately and revert back to your natural routine.