Eat your way to beautiful skin
Our team here at Medcare can do so much to help improve the quality of your skin, making you look younger and healthier. But we need you to be working with us by supporting your skin from the inside out with a healthy, well-thought-out diet. You will be amazed when you find out what you can do to improve your skin just by tweaking what you eat. And it can be fun! So come on – EAT YOURSELF BEAUTIFUL!
Plant oestrogens – the staple of any diet
Phyto-oestrogens are natural chemicals found in plant foods. They have a similar structure to the female sex hormone oestrogen and have been found to help keep our natural hormones in balance and keep the skin younger, tighter and plumper.
There are different types, some are found in soya bean products, whereas others are found in the fibre of wholegrains, fruit, vegetables and flax seeds. A small study of middle-aged Japanese women found that those who daily consumed soy had fewer fine lines and improved skin elasticity. And a whole grain oatmeal is the best breakfast you can give your body because as well as the more widely known health-giving properties, porridge has also been found to soothe skin problems such as psoriasis and eczema.
Antioxidants – for protection
Antioxidants, found in plants and leaves, are known to boost your natural SPF and provide protection against sun damage. Tomatoes contain an antioxidant that improves the skin’s natural SPF. Maybe that’s why they grow so abundantly in the Mediterranean!.
Eating the equivalent of five tomatoes a day can give you up to 33% more protection from sunburn. Green tea is also an SPF booster giving up to 25% more protection. Even adding fresh herbs, which are packed with antioxidants, to your food has been associated with up to a 60% reduced risk of melanoma.
Orange and lemon peel, or zest, can give protection against squamous cell carcinoma, a form of skin cancer. It has to be the peel, because it contains limonene, a compound found in the oil in the peels that offers the UV-protective benefits.
This is what protects oranges and lemons from burning in the hot Mediterranean sun!
Finally, filling up on carrots can give you a natural glow. People who eat a higher amount of carotenoid-containing fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, sweet potato and kale, have more yellow tones in their skin, giving them a complexion that can make them look healthier.
Vitamins – a daily dose
Vitamin C is water soluble and cannot be stored in the body. This is why it’s important to take it every day in your diet. This vitamin stimulates collagen synthesis, which keeps skin taut and smoothes fine lines.
It absorbs and neutralizes the free radicals created by UV light – including the wavelengths that actually get through sunscreen and reach your skin.
A diet high in vitamin C is associated with less dryness and fewer noticeable wrinkles.
Brightly coloured vegetables like peppers and oranges are some of the best sources. It can be found in leafy greens and kiwi fruit, which is massively rich in Vitamin C – nearly 120% of your daily needs can be found in one medium kiwi!
For really fantastic skin benefits, don’t just eat vitamin C. Read our article to find out how a topical vitamin C product can do wonders for you skin.
Other vitamins that you need on a daily basis because they are water soluble are the B complex. These vitamins are contained only in animal and fish products so you need to eat dairy, meat or fish every day. Mackerel and other oily fish like sardines are one of the best sources of vitamin B12.
If you have hyperpigmentation (dark patches on your skin) or vitiligo (white spots) and you don´t eat meat or oily fish then you may well have a B12 deficiency. Making sure you get enough of this vitamin every day will keep your skin even-toned.
Vitamins A, D and E are all fat soluble and can be stored for some time in the body.
Vitamin A is an essential vitamin for great skin health. Foods rich in vitamin A include sweet potatoes, carrots, dark leafy greens, winter squashes, lettuce, dried apricots, bell peppers, fish, liver, and tropical fruits.
Vitamin D is known as the Sunshine Vitamin. This is because sunlight makes your body produce Vitamin D. A little sunshine every day and a diet rich in this vitamin will help minimise acne, boost elasticity, stimulate collagen production, enhance radiance, and lessen lines and the appearance of dark spots. Foods containing Vitamin D include fish oils, fatty fish, mushrooms, beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks.
Vitamin E contains antioxidant properties, essential for skin health, and also protects against sun damage.
Foods high in Vitamin E include almonds, avocado, hazelnuts, pine nuts and sunflower oil. A cup of almond milk contains 50 percent of the recommended daily amount of vitamin E. An ounce of sunflower seeds will give you 37% of your daily needs and keep your skin pimple-free.
Omega fatty acids – moisturise and protect
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats – the types found in avocados, fish, nuts and seeds – provide omega essential fatty acids, which act as a natural moisturiser for your skin, keeping it supple.
Make sure you get enough omega-3 and omega-6 oils as both encourage the body to produce anti-inflammatory compounds, good for anti-ageing and inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
These essential fatty acids cannot be made in the body and must be obtained through the diet. You will find omega-3s in oily fish and plant sources such as flaxseed oil, linseeds, rapeseed oil and walnuts. Walnuts contain an omega-3 which can help eczema and dry skin.
A Mediterranean diet is packed full of anti-aging properties because about 75% of the fat in olive oil is monounsaturated fatty acids, which it is thought may play a role in anti-ageing. It is claimed that more than two teaspoons a day can slow the signs of ageing by up to 30%.
Fish or meat?
One serving of sardines contains a huge amount of omega-3 fatty acids, making it one of the best sources. Fatty fish is particularly rich in the type of omega-3 called DHA, an anti-inflammatory which can help keep your skin clear.
If you do eat meat, lean beef is another source of fatty acids. Not only does grass-fed beef contain a higher ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids but it also contains nearly 30 grams of protein per 3.5-ounce serving. Protein is the building block of collagen and elastin tissue, which keeps skin taut and less wrinkled.
And finally, even more good news – it is OK to eat chocolate and drink red wine!
Chocolate is rich in cocoa flavanols, plant compounds with antioxidant properties, which help hydrate skin and improve circulation. Buy the 75% or 85% cocoa solids variety and an ounce a day is only 150 calories, enough to reduce roughness and dry patches without weight gain!
When Australian researchers analysed the diets of more than 1,000 adults, they discovered that the rate of actinic keratoses (skin lesions caused by long-term sun damage) was reduced by 28% in those that sipped a half glass of red wine a day. Red wine is a top source of resveratrol, an antioxidant compound with anti-tumour properties.
Oysters are the best source of dietary zinc. Six oysters provide over 500% of your daily need in a scant 57 calories! The mineral plays an important role in the growth and function of skin cells and is thought to help with acne.
Finally, a recent study showed that women who drank coffee every day had an 11% lower risk of non-melanoma skin cancer (the most common form of skin cancer) compared to people who don’t drink coffee. Downing six cups a day of caffeinated coffee slashed the risk by 30%, however, experts say to keep your habit under 28 cups a week!