How to keep your skin healthy and beautiful?
Although the main reason we women take care of our skin is to look beautiful, its functions go far beyond that.
Here are the most important ones:
- Skin is our first defence against germs, chemicals, UV exposure, mechanical injuries, etc.
- Skin helps us keep warm when it’s cold and cool when it’s hot;
- The skin allows us to sense the world around us – there are many sensory receptors in the skin that detect different stimuli such as touch, pressure, temperature, pain, etc.
- The skin helps to remove waste from the body through the sweat glands.
- The skin plays a crucial role in the synthesis of vitamin D. Exposure to sunlight converts a precursor in the skin (7-Dehydrocholesterol (7-DHC)) into the active form of vitamin D, which is essential for calcium absorption and bone health in general.
- The outer layer of the skin (stratum corneum) forms an impermeable barrier that helps prevent excessive water loss from the body.
- Melanocytes in the skin produce a pigment called melanin, which helps protect the skin from the harmful effects of UV radiation by absorbing and dispersing it and also affects the colour of our hair, eyes and skin.
And of course, aesthetic and social functions – healthy, smooth and firm skin has a significant impact on our self-esteem and social interactions. In other words, the beauty of our skin is an essential part of our self-confidence and well-being.
And that’s why there are a huge variety of cosmetic products – creams, oils, milks, lotions, serums, balms, etc. – that help (or at least promise to help -😊) us improve the appearance of our skin.
Beautiful skin is healthy skin.
And that means that what we eat can best delay natural skin ageing and prevent a variety of skin problems.
In other words, skin health can be promoted much, much, much more effectively from the inside by providing the body with everything it needs to stay healthy, rather than from the outside by smearing it with something.
That’s what we’ll talk about – how our diet affects our skin and what foods we should eat regularly to keep it healthy and beautiful.
The importance of a healthy diet
Dietary modifications in dermatological therapies are usually given little attention. However, recent studies reveal a close link between various dermatological conditions and food.
Changes in diet and eating habits can help prevent skin conditions like:
Some nutrients, foods or dietary habits may act as “triggers” for these diseases, while others may help alleviate symptoms.
Using whole foods in home cooking (rather than ultra-processed products) may even treat some skin disorders and undoubtedly prevent associated diseases.
Effects of diet and eating habits on skin health
Skin health is closely linked to diet. Nutrients, vitamins and minerals are essential for all biological processes, and their deficiency affects all our organs – including the skin.
In other words, what you put in your mouth can either heal or damage your skin.
In recent years, diet and eating habits have been increasingly linked to skin and overall health and well-being.
In addition, clinical studies and epidemiology have also linked diet to tissue and organ health and confirmed that diet and eating habits influence overall skin health and ageing.
The role of diet in the treatment of various skin diseases
If we provide our bodies with everything they need – our skin is healthy and beautiful.
Dietary imbalances, including fasting, deficiencies or excesses of some nutrients or artificial food ingredients (preservatives, flavourings, emulsifiers, etc.) can lead to metabolic disorders and skin diseases.
Dry skin can be caused by:
- Ageing of the body.
- External/environmental factors like dry air, excessive heat or cold, frequent bathing or washing with very hot water, soaps and shampoos, etc.
- Diseases – diabetes, thyroid or kidney disease, psoriasis, dermatitis, anorexia, skin barrier dysfunction, chemotherapy, certain medications such as statins and diuretics.
- Nutritional deficiencies – Insufficient intake of essential fatty acids, vitamins (such as vitamins A and E) and minerals (such as zinc) can lead to dry, rough and flaky skin.
- Insufficient hydration – Drinking water is very important. Not drinking enough water can lead to dehydration, which can manifest as dry skin.
As you can see, two of the five possible causes of dry skin are diet-related.
To provide your body with everything it needs for healthy skin:
- Increase your antioxidant intake – eat more berries, citrus fruits, leafy greens, beans and nuts.
- Eat foods rich in vitamin E – almonds, peanuts, sunflower seeds, spinach, pumpkin, red peppers, avocados …
- Include foods high in vitamin A in your diet – beef liver, dairy products, eggs, fish oils, carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, broccoli, avocados …
- Increase your intake of Omega-3 fatty acids – eat oily fish (salmon, mackerel), chia seeds, flaxseeds, and walnuts …
- Get enough zinc – Include zinc-rich foods such as beef, pumpkin seeds, lentils, oysters …
- And drink enough water.
Acne is thought to be caused by a combination of factors – too much sebum, clogged skin pores, bacteria and inflammation.
Hormonal changes during puberty, menopause or polycystic ovary syndrome can also significantly affect acne formation.
Certain medications can also cause pimples (especially steroids and lithium), and cosmetics, make-up and anything applied to the skin can also contribute to clogged pores.
Genetic factors, pollution, smoking and stress can also contribute to acne.
The link between diet and acne has been little studied, and many people, including doctors, believe that it is a myth.
We know that:
- Certain foods can promote inflammatory processes throughout the body, and it is possible that this may lead to outbreaks of pimples.
- Diet can affect the release of hormones, which in turn can intensify the formation of pimples. For example, milk and foods high in sugar can cause insulin levels to rise, altering the levels of other hormones, which in turn can affect the skin. Some studies have found a link between milk, whey proteins and acne.
A new study published in 2020 compared the results of 24-hour dietary surveys of more than 24,000 adults (average age 57 years). The researchers found a link between the likelihood of developing acne and:
- High-fat foods (including dairy and meat products);
- Sugary foods and drinks;
- Diets that combine foods high in fat and sugar. Compared to those who had never had acne, 54% of respondents with existing acne had this type of diet.
However, these results should be viewed with caution, as this type of research reveals an association but not a causality. In other words – it cannot be stated with certainty that it was the high-fat and high-sugar foods that caused the pimples.
I would say that foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids and foods with a low glycaemic index and glycaemic load may help adults suffering from acne.
There are also some promising studies on the positive effects of probiotics in reducing acne.
Sagging skin and loss of skin elasticity are due to changes in the skin’s collagen and elastin fibres, which can be accelerated, for example, by excessive sugar consumption, which stimulates the cross-linking of collagen fibres.
In this process, a covalent bond is formed between the amino acids of collagen and elastin in the dermis, resulting in the formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs).
Research shows that once these cross-links are formed, the body cannot repair them. The accumulation of AGEs can cause structural changes in the skin, resulting in “stiffer” and less elastic skin.
AGE formation can be limited with herbs and spices (oregano, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, garlic …) and naturally occurring substances in some fruits and vegetables such as lipoic acid (red meat, liver, heart, kidney, broccoli, spinach, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, potatoes, green peas …).
Psoriasis and Rosacea or Couperose
Rosacea or cuperous skin and psoriasis are visually so similar that it is often difficult to tell them apart. They have similar triggers such as stress, certain medications, alcohol, weather changes and, for some people, allergies or certain foods. Psoriasis can also be caused by infections and skin trauma.
Rosacea usually affects the skin of the centre of the face, especially the cheeks, nose and chin.
Psoriasis, on the other hand, can occur anywhere on the body. But if it appears on the face, it is usually in the eyebrow area, around the nose, and on the top of the forehead, in the hairline.
It is not known for sure why people get rosacea or psoriasis. However, both diseases are common in families, and it suggests that the causes could be genetic. Problems with the immune system also seem to play a role.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune skin disease that appears to be aggravated by a diet high in inflammatory foods. Food allergies or a diet with an unbalanced ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids can be a contributing factor to inflammation.
Psoriasis patients are advised to follow a diet low in calories and protein.
The beneficial effects of a low-calorie, low-energy diet are thought to be secondary linked to changes in polyunsaturated fatty acid metabolism that alter the profile of eicosanoids, including prostaglandins and thromboxanes.
The reduction of psoriatic symptoms is associated with a decrease in total protein, which inhibits epithelial growth and lowers polyamine levels.
Remember that protein is essential for our bodies. In other words, if you are consuming too much protein, you may need to change your diet slightly to reduce your protein intake, but it should certainly not be completely eliminated from your diet.
Non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) is one of the most common malignancies and is the initial diagnosis of cancer in many people. A diet high in fruit and vegetables has been shown in many studies to reduce the incidence of cancer, especially in the case of UV-induced cancers.
In other words, consuming antioxidants and phytochemicals in the form of whole foods, especially fruits and vegetables, is beneficial for our health, including reducing the risk of skin cancer.
Wrinkles and Skin folds
You might think that wrinkles and skin folds are only for old people, but this is not true.
To keep your skin smooth, elastic and wrinkle-free, you need three things:
- Collagen. Of course, you can also get it from supplements, but by including beef bone broth, sardines, liver, broccoli, berries, and Aloe Vera juice (in very small amounts) … You can increase your skin’s collagen levels naturally.
- Foods such as greens, oily fish, citrus fruits, broccoli, almonds and walnuts … can help improve elastin production in the skin.
- Protein. The best sources of protein are eggs, dairy products, lean meats, fish, almonds, lentils, quinoa …
Your skin is an indicator of your health. If skin problems occur, they are most likely due to a deficiency of nutrients, vitamins, antioxidants … or, less commonly, an overabundance of one of them.
We are trying to delay normal skin ageing and the best way to slow it down at a cellular level is to prevent the body’s cells from oxidising.
Specifically, the best way to delay the ageing of the body is to avoid smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and eating antioxidant-rich foods.
On a physical level, the best way to slow down the ageing process is to maintain a healthy subcutaneous fat layer, which will help to keep the skin hydrated.
This can be achieved in part by eating healthy fats (omega-3 and monounsaturated fats), drinking enough water and taking proper skin care to improve skin condition and reduce moisture loss. By good skin care, I do not mean using cosmetics, but ‘torturing’ the skin as little as possible by prolonged/frequent washing with too hot water, too much sunbathing, using make-up, etc. – anything that irritates the skin and upsets its natural balance.
When is it important to start caring for your skin?
The earlier, the better, as prevention plays an important role in the ageing process. A healthy diet, non-smoking, moderate alcohol consumption and avoiding too much sunbathing in adolescence will pay off later.