Eat your way to healthy skin

Are you using sun protection and night creams but feel you need to do more to protect your skin? A Mediclinic dietician offers tips on which healthy foods also contribute to healthy skin.

Which foods contribute to healthy skin?

Getting the right amount of vitamins and minerals is essential for healthy skin. Not only can they keep your skin glowing, but many of the right foods are antioxidants and thereby slow down the effects of ageing.

Cornel Joubert, a dietician at Mediclinic Potchefstroom says you can get a lot of your essential ‘skin nutrients’ from everyday foods. She recommends you stock up on the following:

  • Vitamin A is responsible for skin integrity and is found in fish liver oils, egg yolk, animal livers, dairy products, butter and fortified margarine.
  • B-carotene protects the skin against UV radiation as it can absorb light. Eat fruit and vegetables that are deep yellow, orange or dark green in colour to get this vitamin.
  • Vitamins C and E combined are essential for protecting the skin against sunburn. Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits, strawberries, broccoli, red and green peppers and tomatoes. Vitamin E is present in nuts, seeds, avocado, plant oils and dried prunes.
  • Zinc is necessary for collagen production, which can help delay the ageing process. You’ll find it in seafood, poultry, meat, eggs, milk, oatmeal,corn and whole grains.
  • Omega-3 poly-unsaturated fatty acid has anti-inflammatory properties and helps to protect the skin against erythema (superficial reddening) after sun exposure. Common food sources of Omega-3 poly-unsaturated fats are fish oils like cod liver and salmon, as well as mackerel and salmon.

Does drinking water really help?

‘Approximately 30% of the skin consists of water, which is responsible for elasticity and resilience,’ says Cornel. ‘However, as much as you should keep hydrated throughout the day, drinking water will not prevent wrinkles or other signs of ageing.’

Foods to avoid

Cornel recommends staying away from diets high in fat – especially animal fat, as well as processed and deep-fried foods. Refined carbohydratessuch as sweets, cookies, biscuits and fizzy drinks also contribute to unhealthy skin.

Quick skin food facts

  • Fermented foods can help to fight eczema, as they are packed with probiotics.
  • Citrus peel added to a cup of strong black or green tea make a powerful antioxidant.
  • For teenage acne, eat sunflowers, sesame seeds or canola oil. These items are high in linoleic acid and according to a scientific review individuals with acne often display low levels of linoleic acid.
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