It’s easier than you think to eat a beauty diet, says nutritionist Olga Hamilton. From eating more salmon and pistachios, to dosing up on all things green and orange (well, not Haribo), you can eat yourself glowing
Many of us don’t exactly have half an hour to spare each morning for a costly 10 step skin care routine. One way that you can manage your skin is through your diet.
Your skin health is a clear reflection of what you eat. For example, if you get acne, your dairy intake may be to blame – one study shows that milk releases IGF-I, a hormone similar to insulin, which interact with our own hormones confusing our body’s endocrine system causing breakouts.
So, while avoiding processed foods, junk and trans fats and sugars and drinking plenty of pure water can have a beneficial effect on your skin, there are certain foods that you can add to your diet to see a real effect on your skin. Here are my top picks of beauty foods.
Beauty diet food #1: Essential fatty acids
Aside from improved eye health and reduced inflammation, good fats in your diet are essential for healthy skin, omega-3 in particular.
Omega-3 fatty acids maintain healthy skin cells membranes. An insufficiency of these can actually reduce the skin’s ability to absorb and retain water, which will lead to dry and dehydrated skin.
The best foods that provide omega-3 fatty acids include fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel, anchovies, kipper and trout. Just two portions of oily fish per week (one portion = 140g when cooked) would provide a sufficient amount of Omega-3 fatty acids.
An optimal intake of omega-3 fatty acids may help increase hydration by improving the skin’s natural barrier.
If you are vegan you can still get your intake of omgea-3 in walnuts chia seeds, flaxseed and hemp seeds oil or through supplementation with algal oil, made from algae which is what omega 3 rich fish feed on.
Beauty diet food #2: Green, leafy vegetables
Green leafy vegetables are vital in a balanced diet and their skin benefits are an added bonus. They contain a variety of essential nutrients, antioxidants, fibre and age-fighting phytochemicals.
Vitamin C is a co-factor for collagen production in your skin and connective tissues. Found in leafy greens, vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid) is one of the most important antioxidant nutrients. It is not naturally synthesized by the human body and therefore an adequate dietary intake of vitamin C is essential.
The vitamin E found in greens protects your skin cells from free radical damage, such as UV damage and air pollution.
Leafy green vegetables also contain folate, a vital nutrient for DNA repair, which also helps produce and maintain new cells.
The vegetables are loaded with disease-fighting phytochemicals, like chlorophyll which provides protection against free radicals that can cause your skin to age. The darker the green the more chlorophyll the vegetable will contain.
Greens are rich in lutein, a powerful antioxidant which boosts hydration levels, helps to improve elasticity and protects against sun damage.
Make it a rule to include at least two portions (160g) of greens each day. Go for watercress, rocket, spinach, romaine lettuce, mixed leaves, baby leaf salad, microgreens and kale. It is easy to get half of that through a daily green salad and another half through a cooked vegetable side for dinner or you could always whip it up in a green smoothie.
Beauty diet food #3: Orange coloured fruit or vegetables
Orange coloured fruit and vegetables contain high amounts of beta-carotene which are essential to give your skin healthy colour.
A study by the University of Nottingham found that eating a healthy diet rich in fruit and vegetables gives you a more healthy golden glow than the sun.
These include carrots, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, papaya, orange peppers, zucchini, mango, orange.
The high vitamin A content in these fruit and vegetables helps repair skin tissue and protects against the sun’s harsh rays . As vitamin A is an antioxidant, it also protects from free radicals to help prevent the signs of ageing like wrinkles, pigmentation and an uneven skin tone.
It is best to eat foods such as carrots, squash and sweet potatoes cooked as opposed to raw as vitamin A becomes more bioavailable in cooked food. It’s also helpful to consume these vegetables with oil as this can improve the absorption of vitamin A.
Beauty diet food #4: Pistachios
Pistachios are called the queen of nuts for a reason. They are great source of healthy fats, fibre, protein, antioxidants, and various nutrients, including vitamin B6 and thiamine. They’re also rich in the amino acid L-Arginine, which is a precursor of nitric oxide, a molecule that dilates our blood vessels and increases circulation of blood.
More blood delivers more oxygen and essential nutrients to our skin cells and removes waste products. Nitric Oxide also supports tissue repair, including collagen formation.
Put a tablespoon of pistachios into your morning smoothie, have 30g as a snack or make a delicious pistachio-based pesto sauce.
A study shows how the visual cue of pistachios can actually aid in weight loss as it aids you to consume fewer calories.
Beauty diet supplement: astaxanthin
Astaxanthin is one of the most powerful antioxidants that has been shown in clinical studies to increase skin moisture, elasticity, lighten dark spots, as well as promote skin smoothness, decreasing fine lines.
Astaxanthin has incredible UV-blocking properties, which helps to assist the skin in protecting itself against sun-related damage.
The natural sources of astaxanthin are algae, wild salmon, trout, krill, lobster, shrimp and crayfish.
But you can also take it as a supplement as it’s high doses that have been shown to benefit skin. These have been researched and proven safe in doses of up to 40 milligrams daily for 12 weeks. If you’re getting it from whole food sources, try incorporating a few servings of astaxanthin-rich foods into your diet per week.