The texture and appearance of our skin isn’t just influenced by how well we cleanse and the products we apply, although these are big contributing factors to overall skin health. What we eat and drink, whether we smoke or regularly exercise can also have a positive (or negative!) impact on the quality of our skin.
In women’s magazines, television shows and even on social media, we are bombarded by healthy eating advice. New so-called ‘superfoods’ seem to crop up every week, along with bizarre horror stories linking random fruit and/or vegetables to an increased risk of cancer/stroke/abduction by aliens. So what should we be eating to nourish our bodies and skin? Making sure that you are eating your 5 fruit and vegetables a day is a great place to start, as fruit and veg contain a number of vitamins essential to good skin health, like vitamin C:
“The antioxidant properties of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and its role in collagen synthesis make vitamin C a vital molecule for skin health. Dietary and topical ascorbic acid have beneficial effects on skin cells, and some studies have shown that vitamin C may help prevent and treat ultraviolet (UV)-induced photo-damage”
Nuts, seeds and oily fish are also a dietary must-have, as these are all great sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Omega-3 Fatty Acids “provide the starting point for making hormones that regulate blood clotting, contraction and relaxation of artery walls, and inflammation… due to these effects, omega-3 fats have been shown to help prevent heart disease and stroke, may help control lupus, eczema, and rheumatoid arthritis, and may play protective roles in cancer and other conditions”. As we are too often told, certain foods aren’t great for your body or skin. Too much refined sugar, for example, can damage collagen and elastin in the skin, contributing to a loss of volume and definition in the structure of the skin and increasing the appearance of the visible signs of ageing.
Too much alcohol, just like too much refined sugar, can also have a negative impact on your skin. Alcohol dehydrates the body and skin, which can leave skin looking dull and lacklustre and feeling dry. Smoking, too, can have a negative effect on the skin:
“Cigarette smoke contains carbon monoxide, which displaces the oxygen in your skin, and nicotine, which reduces blood flow, leaving skin dry and discoloured. Cigarette smoking also depletes many nutrients, including vitamin C, which helps protect and repair skin damage”
At Appearance Based Medicine Ltd., we’re not suggesting that you cut out every single gram of refined sugar and millilitre of alcohol – like anything, the risk of damage to your body and skin is reduced if you consume these things in moderation, and try to embrace other lifestyle changes that have been proven to improve the condition of the skin, like exercise.
Exercise is one great way to help you feel and look better, on the inside as well as the outside! As you exercise, blood carries oxygen and nutrients to working cells throughout the body, including the skin. Exercise can also help to reduce stress – an issue which has been linked to flare-ups of acne, eczema and rosacea. And I’m not talking running a marathon here – just getting out and about for a brisk walk a couple of times a week can really have a positive influence on the way that you feel and the way that you look.
What you eat and drink, how you exercise – all these factors can influence whether or not you are regularly subjecting your body to activity that can ‘speed up’ the ageing process of you skin. At Appearance Based Medicine Ltd., I try to cover some of these topics in my initial patient consultation to try and provide well-rounded aesthetic advice, support and guidance to my customers. If you would like to speak to me about your skin, get in touch today by phoning 01628 303020 and booking a consultation with me, Clare McLoughlin RGN INP today.
 Michels, A. J. (2011) http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/micronutrients-health/skin-health/nutrient-index/vitamin-C