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You might think it’s important what you put on your skin, but when it comes to a healthy complexion, what you put on your plate is more important. The only real way to get glowing skin is to feed it from the inside.

Beauty is more than skin deep

Your skin relies on nutrients that are carried to it via blood vessels. There are two skin layers – the dermis and the epidermis. The inner layer (dermis) is responsible for supplying the outer layer (epidermis) with oxygen and nutrients. It contains blood vessels, nerve tissue, sweat glands and collagen. The epidermis (the skin you can see), however has no blood supply of its own and is made up of skin cells that have moved up through the layers, losing moisture as they go, before finally dying and flaking off, constantly being replaced.

The detox connection

Your skin is the largest organ of your body working alongside other organ systems like the liver, kidneys and digestive tract to aid in toxin excretion. Any toxins that can’t effectively be excreted through the liver and bowels will be shunted to the skin instead. Looking after your digestive system and liver function is crucial to skin health.

Listen to what your skin is telling you

If you have issues with your skin, such as dryness, rashes or spots, it’s usually an indication that something else needs supporting in your body. Eczema indicates that you need essential fats, and spots around the chin mean you could be suffering from hormonal imbalances. The skin mirrors your inner health and is a reflection of what is going on inside your body. When your skin feels out of balance, forget expensive creams, lotions and potions, instead focus on what you are eating and where else your body might need support.

How to eat for a healthy complexion

  • Eat the rainbow! Fill your plate with an array of colourful fruits and vegetables. Each colour represents different antioxidants and phytochemicals, which all work more powerfully in synergy with each other to protect and feed your skin. Eat orange, red, yellow, green and purple foods regularly. Berries, carrots, squashes and green leafy vegetables do wonders for the skin.
  • Eat good fats and avoid the bad. Load up on wild, oily fish, raw nuts and seeds, avocados, cold-pressed seed oils and extra virgin olive oil, whilst avoiding trans fats, processed vegetable oils and hydrogenated fats found in processed foods which promote inflammation.
  • Eat a high-fibre diet to support excretion and digestive function. Beans, lentils, wholegrains, oats, quinoa, brown rice and root vegetables provide excellent sources.
  • Drink minimum 8 glasses of water each day to keep the body hydrated and to flush out toxins. Dehydrated skin is not healthy-looking skin.
  • Go organic to minimise your body’s toxic load. Especially choose organic produce when you buy meat and dairy to avoid ingesting the synthetic hormones, growth promotors and antibiotics that are fed to intensively-reared animals.
  • Eat a clean diet packed with unrefined wholefoods. Eating junk will make you look like junk. Always read labels and avoid additives and synthetic ingredients.
  • Eat fermented foods to support a healthy gut flora for effective digestion and elimination. Eat sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir or natural, live organic yogurt.
  • 7 nutrients that nourish your skin

    1. Vitamin C. This is crucial for collagen production. It’s found in most fruits and veggies with citrus, strawberries, peppers and kiwis being great sources.
    2. Zinc. Needed for new skin cell production and a healthy immune response. Found in raw nuts and seeds as well as fish and seafood.
    3. Vitamin A. This controls keratin production (too much keratin leads to dry, hard skin). Great sources are yellow and orange fruits and veg, such as carrots, pumpkins, sweet potatoes and mangos.
    4. MSM (methyl-sulfonyl-methane). This compound is rich in sulphur needed for skin, hair and nail health. Eat up your cabbage, eggs, garlic, leeks and onions, which are all rich in sulphur. MSM can also be supplemented for a stronger effect to support the body’s connective tissue.
    5. Essential fatty acids (EFAs). Eat healthy fats to supply the skin with the lubrication it needs and to keep cell membranes functioning at their best, as well as preventing the skin from drying out. Eat up your wild, oily fish, cold-pressed seed oils and raw nuts and seeds.
    6. Antioxidants. They protect the cells from damage and promote healthy ageing. Various nutrients have antioxidant activity such as selenium and vitamins A,C and E. Avocados are rich in vitamin E and Brazil nuts are a great source of selenium. Eat a high plant-based diet to benefit from a wide variety of antioxidant phytochemicals.
    7. Protein is crucial for tissue regeneration, repair and growth. Focus on lean, healthy proteins like organic chicken, wild fish, beans, lentils, sprouts and chickpeas.

    Don’t believe the hype

    What you feed your skin is the most important factor in how healthy it is, yet it’s still wise to consider what you are rubbing into it. If you wouldn’t put it in your mouth, don’t put it on your skin! Most skincare products are full of a vast array of synthetic chemicals, mineral oil (from petrol) and perfume. The skin finds these substances toxic, just like the body does. In fact, one of the skin’s natural functions is absorption, so anything that you apply to your skin will reach your bloodstream as if you’d eaten it. The big companies that produce synthetic skin products simply brain-wash you into believing that their preparations will make you more beautiful. This is utter nonsense! Choose natural, healthy skincare brands instead. Their products will allow your skin to function efficiently and won’t increase your body’s toxic burden, as well as providing therapeutic benefits from herbs, natural extract and essential oils.

    Skin treats

    There are various feel-good ways to treat your skin alongside a healthy diet. Natural treatments such as virgin coconut oil massage, herbal steam baths and aloe vera facials enhance your skin’s function and make it look fantastic. Saunas help rid your body of toxins through sweat, whilst bathing in Epsom or dead sea salts will give your skin a healthy glow.

    Fabulous glowing skin

    Providing your body with the nutrients it needs is the only way to a healthier complexion. Focus on your inner health and your skin will follow. It is said that the eyes are a window to your soul. Likewise, your skin reflects the health of your body. As Grace Slick said in a Jefferson Airplane lyric from the 1960’s, “You’re only as pretty as you feel inside”. I couldn’t think of a more accurate analogy. Beauty definitely comes from within.

    Article by Jo Rowkins, Nutritional Therapist DipNT MBANT