Downing 10 litres of water a day and not seeing any difference? Read this
While we love swiping a good highlighter on our cheekbones and dusting a bit of bronzer on our face to up our glow game, nothing quite beats that skin-deep glow.
As you’ve probably already figured out by now, nabbing filter-worthy, glowing skin is no easy feat. Hands up who tries to chug down a billion litres of water on the daily? Yep, it’s no walk in the park (read: peeing every two seconds is a TASK). If you’re anything like us, you’ve also slathered on every serum, mask and lotion in hope of improving your skin’s radiance.
But the truth is, what you put into your body is just as, if not more, important as the products you put on your skin.
Dietician and CEO and founder of Be Fit Food Kate Save says that glowing, healthy skin undoubtedly starts with good nutrition. “There’s a growing body of research to show that diet really does affect your complexion –– what you eat can impact your hormone balance, cause or control acne, create or lessen inflammation, and even impact the signs of visible ageing,” she says.
“It works like this: the epidermis (top layer of your skin) is the body’s largest and fastest growing organ. Essentially, the food you eat gets digested and broken down, and becomes the cells that create that epidermis,” explains Save.
As well as a good diet, Save says your gut health is also vital for good skin health. “As the cells inside your gut play an important role in digesting food and keeping you healthy, they’re understandably not a fan of a bad diet. Processed foods or foods high in sugar, for example, can create an imbalance in our gut cells, which can cause inflammation in the body and lead to skin conditions like acne and eczema.”
The good news? “There are particular foods and nutrients that can nourish our bodies from the inside out, improving the health of our skin and promoting a glowing complexion,” says Save.
What to eat for glowing skin
Whether you’re looking to fight off premature ageing, reduce the appearance of wrinkles or get rid of a pesky skin condition, adding certain foods and nutrients into your daily routine can help nourish your skin and give you that healthy glow you’re after.
Here are some of the nutrients you should try to eat more of, as well as the best foods to add to your shopping list.
As well as being great for our heart, brain and eye health, omega-3 fatty acids play an essential role in the very structure of your skin. Considered healthy fats, Save says essential fatty acids can "improve skin barrier function, inhibit UV-induced inflammation and hyperpigmentation, help ease dry skin and pruritus elicited by dermatitis, and accelerate skin wound healing”.
She adds, “Due to the anti-inflammatory properties, it assists in reducing skin redness and irritation, thus assisting in acne management”.
Where to find it: Fish, nuts like walnuts, seeds such as flaxseed and chia seeds, and plant oils like canola oil and soybean oil.
“Vitamin A/retinol is known to improve the fine lines associated with natural ageing,” says Save. “This is because these nutrients are important for retaining water, and unsurprisingly, water is the most important contributor to our skin health because it helps to hydrate the skin and flush out unwanted toxins that cause blockages in our pores.” And yes, it’s not just your skin care formulas that are enriched with this anti-ageing ingredient – you can find it in foods, too.
Where to find it: Salmon, beef, cod liver oil, cheese and eggs.
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that helps to fight free radicals, UV rays and sun damage, it prevents inflammation and it is secreted via sebum to help protect the skin’s surface and improve your overall skin tone. “Vitamin E can help to reduce the appearance of scarring (acne scarring, sunburn scarring, etc), smooth wrinkles and diminish dark spots,” says Save.
“Essentially, vitamin E fights the effects of UV light, smoke and air pollution in our skin by neutralising free radicals and strengthening our collagen production (skin’s support structure),” she adds.
“Vitamin E also lives in and protects the cell membranes, which form a barrier around our cells to keep them hydrated and healthy. This therefore keeps our skin moisturised and supple.”
Where to find it: Sunflower seeds, almonds, leafy green vegetables, avocado, fish and some fruits (mango and kiwi fruit, for example).
“Glowing skin is positively associated with fruit and vegetable intake, both of which contain high amounts of vitamin C,” says Save.
“Vitamin C is important for collagen synthesis, and therefore has an anti-ageing affect. As an antioxidant, it fights off free radicals that can otherwise be damaging to collagen and elastin, [which are] fibres that support skin structure, helping to prevent wrinkle development and premature ageing.”
Where to find it: Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, kiwi fruits and berries.
What to avoid
So now you know what to eat, what kind of things should you avoid? Well, according to Save there are some common foods that many of us consume every day without knowing how harmful they can be to our skin. While their consequences might not be visible immediately, these foods can have a negative impact on our complexion in the long run.
“Foods laden with high GI like processed foods, and those high in sugar, are bad for your skin because they raise blood sugar levels too quickly,” says Save. Processed foods like chips and crackers are often made with man-made oils, such as canola oil, soybean oil, and other vegetable oils, which are pro-inflammatory; Saves explains, “This causes a release in hormone insulin and can cause the oil glands in your skin to increase oil production, in turn increasing your susceptibility to acne”.
“Foods that are high in refined carbs are also bad for your skin because they have poor nutritional value, and feed bad bacteria in your gut. Since acne and eczema are bacterial conditions, it makes sense that the best skin starts with replenishing your gut – foods high in antioxidants and probiotics work well for this.” Good sources of probiotics include yoghurt, miso, kombucha and fermented foods like pickles and kimchi; while beta-carotene rich foods like sweet potatoes and spinach, as well as green tea, are more great choices if you want to consume more antioxidants.
If you’re looking for more tips on how to up your glow factor, check out the skin care step that’s probably missing in your routine (it’s Kate Middleton-approved!) and the best foundations for glowing skin.
What are your favourite skin-nourishing foods? Let us know in the comment section below.
Main image credit: @bambilegit
Erin Docherty is a Beauty Writer for BEAUTYcrew, Beauty Editor for Women's Health magazine and a Grooming Writer for Men's Health magazine. She has a keen interest in cosmeceutical skin care and is currently working on minimising her 9-step skin care routine – because ain’t nobody got time for that. When she’s not writing about the latest beauty news, or applying copious amounts of serum, you can find her spending all her money in Sephora.