When it comes to complexion concerns, most of us tend to turn to topical treatments and over-the-counter solutions, particularly when a case of spotty skin rears its ugly head. But what if, when it comes to the secret to better skin, changing what’s going in to your body is even more important than what’s going on it?
There are a number of foods jam-packed with vitamins and minerals that have been long-heralded for their skin clearing properties which, when combined with fresh air, plenty of exercise, and a good skincare regime, can make the world of difference.
On our journey to discover what foods could help us eat our way to better skin, we got in touch with nutritional expert and founder of healthy food delivery service The Pure Package, Jennifer Irvine. Here’s her pick of the top ten foodie choices that can help make us glow brighter and more beautiful.
“These are one of my all-time favourite superfoods,” says Jenny. “Eggs contain everything needed to bring life and are best known for protein, which is especially needed for collagen production.” In particular, the yolks are most beneficial as they’re full of skin clearing selenium, zinc and protein, among other vitamins.
“Sea veggies such as ‘channelled wrack’ often have twice as much vitamin C as oranges,” says Jenny, “which is important for healthy, functioning collagen as it strengthens the capillaries in the skin.” In addition, nori – best known as the outer wrap on sushi rolls – has the same amount of omega-3s as two whole avocados, which can help to create a natural oil barrier on your skin, reducing acne and dry skin.
Avocados are great for the skin as they are omega rich and known to be a strong source of vitamin E, which works to boosts the skin’s vitality and luminosity. “Feeding your skin from the inside out with vital nutrients helps it stay soft, supple and blemish-free,” says Jenny. “Not to mention vitamin E is also a potent sun blocker, helping to protect the skin against the sun’s damaging UV rays.” Studies also suggest that eating a regular portion of avocado can improve the skin’s ability to keep itself moisturised.
No, water isn’t technically a food, but it’s the oldest trick in the book and the cheapest, easiest way to keep your skin gorgeously glowing. “Water ensures a healthy metabolism, which will in turn keep skin healthy and glowing,” says Jenny. “Try swapping your usual cup of caffeine for a herbal brew.” In addition, upping your fluid levels will also help to keep your brain functional, allowing you to cope with stress better as well as replenishing the water levels in your skin.
“Spinach is not only crammed with skin clearing antioxidants, but it’s also filled with fibre too, which is great for staving off hunger pangs and regulating insulin production,” says Jenny. Spinach is also believed to be useful for staving off cancerous cells. In a study published in the International Journal of Cancer, people who ate the most leafy greens had half as many skin tumours over 11 years as those who ate the least. It’s thought that the folate in these veggies may help repair and maintain DNA, basically boosting cells’ ability to renew themselves. What’s more the water in these greens effectively penetrates cell membranes, making the skin plumper and less wrinkled.
Not only is this veg super delicious, it’s also “full of a naturally occurring chemical called allicin, which, when digested, acts against harmful bacteria – including that which causes acne and other skin infections,” says Jenny. Combine this with a potent cocktail of antioxidants, and it’s an almost unbeatable little clove. To ensure you get the best out of garlic, eat it raw, chopped finely into a salad or stirred into a meal before serving.
“These are such an easy and versatile ingredient to add onto salads and stews,” says Jenny. “In particular, pumpkin seeds are full of zinc which protects cell membranes, helps maintain collagen, and promotes skin renewal.”
“Everything from pumpkin to butternut including their seeds and flesh are filled with goodness,” says Jenny. “They contain plenty of beta-carotene known to be great for regular skin cell development and healthy skin tone.”
“These are a great snack due to the high content of selenium,” says Jenny, “which is a nutrient that helps preserve elastin, a protein that keeps skin smooth and tight.” It also helps helps protect skin against environmental damage and promotes general good health.
“As well as being full of omega–3 fats, which help to fortify skin cell membranes and protect against sun damage, fresh, oily fish are great for allowing water and nutrients into the skin while keeping toxins out,” says Jenny. In particular, go for fish such as mackerel as it’s loaded with eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), both of which combat acne inflammation.