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Eat to TREAT your skin!

Eat to TREAT your skin!

Monday, 22nd August 2016

Our skin is one of the body’s most important detoxification organs and you’ll know that if you’re feeling run down, have let the healthy eating slip or had one too many late nights that one of the first places for it to show up is your skin.
But you might not know why this happens - if you are prone to blemishes and pimples or have a diagnosed inflammatory skin condition like psoriasis, eczema, acne or rosacea, it can be a telling sign that your liver - the body’s main detoxification factory is overworked. Through a whole host of complicated biological processes, this (as well as many other factors) can encourage an inflammatory state in the body, so it might be time slow down, take a break and provide your body with the nutrients it needs to support your skin and calm inflammation.
These days, due to chronic stress, external toxins or a diet lacking in essential vitamins and minerals it can be very common to have some level of underlying inflammation going on, but don’t fret! Our skin is constantly replenishing itself with cells ‘turning over’ every 30 days or so, so making dietary changes can show up fairly quickly. In order to keep our skin healthy we need to feed it with the right nutrients and the great news is that by following some simple anti-inflammatory principles you can dampen this down with lots of delicious and nutritious foods.

Keep things colourful
It’s important to eat a wide range of colourful fruit and veg, they’re packed with powerful antioxidants that can help to protect the skin from ‘free radicals’. As a general rule the more richly pigmented the better so aim to eat a rainbow! In particular sweet potatoes, carrots, butternut squash and spinach are all good sources of beta carotene which helps to keep skin cells healthy and encourage a glowing complexion. Load up on broccoli and berries for vitamin C, another super antioxidant and an essential nutrient for skin healing and the production of collagen which keeps our skin plumped up and looking youthful.

Don’t shy away from healthy fats
Every cell in our body has a ‘lipid’ membrane and to keep this nice and fluid it’s important to load up on healthy fats which are crucial for managing inflammation and supporting the skin. Oily fish, olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, nuts & seeds (walnuts and flaxseeds are particularly high in anti-inflammatory omega 3 fats) are all fantastic. 

Provide your skin with the building blocks
Good quality protein like lean meat, fish, eggs, beans, lentils, tofu or tempeh is key for keeping blood sugar stable and encouraging skin repair, and a healthy helping of fibre and whole grains can keep digestion ticking over and get rid of any excess toxins. Approximately 70% of our immune system is based in the gut so ensuring healthy bowel habits can really support immune function – load up on prebiotic foods like bananas (particularly the green ones), onions, garlic and asparagus to feed your friendly bacteria.

Spice things up
For an extra anti-inflammatory edge, learn to cook with herbs and spices - turmeric, ginger, rosemary and garlic are all great.

Eat real foods which agree with you
Those are the good guys but what should you avoid to keep your skin healthy? Firstly anything refined, white or sugary - these foods can disrupt blood sugar balance and promote inflammation. Vegetable, sunflower and corn oils are best avoided along with margarine which are all highly processed and if eaten in excess can contribute to inflammation. Stick to real, grass fed butter or coconut oil to cook with and dress your salads with extra virgin olive oil, flax or walnut oil for more super powered anti-inflammatory omega 3s.

Wheat, gluten and dairy are common allergens and for many can promote an immune response so give oat, rice or nut milk a try and mix up your grains – brown rice, millet, quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat are all gluten free and make a nutritious alternative.
Finally, there’s nothing wrong with a tipple now and again but too much can disrupt blood sugar and place an extra strain on the liver so opt for the odd vino as an occasional treat and try experimenting with health(ier) homemade berry cocktails made with vodka or gin!
Written by Registered Nutritional Therapist Becky Graham DipION


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