We are all seeking radiant, youthful, and clear skin. The beauty industry assures us that buying expensive lotions and potions will help us to achieve this. However, the answer could be as simple as exercising and eating well.
Dermatologist Audrey Kunin likens the impact of a workout to a ‘mini facial’ since when you exercise your “pores dilate, sweat expels trapped dirt and oil” in an attempt to cool you down. However, remember to wash your face afterwards. Failing to do so could result in the dirt being sucked back into your pores and undoing your work.
Exercise is also believed to have anti-aging qualities too! When you exercise and are working hard, your body increases its blood flow to allow oxygen to reach your muscles. This also increases the blood flow to your dermis (the thickest layer of skin). The result is that your skin gets sent all the oxygen, nutrients, and hormones that it needs.
Skin is made up of 64% water, making hydration a key part of skin health. Without an adequate amount of water, you may notice that your skin becomes dry, tight and flaky. This in turn makes it more prone to premature ageing. Furthermore, dry skin does not reflect light as well as hydrated skin, and therefore appears less radiant. Drinking lots of water should ensure your skin holds its moisture and looks healthier, softer, and younger.
Vitamin C promotes collagen production. Collagen is a protein that keeps your skin looking young and plump, but the production of collagen begins to decline at the age of 25. Fruit and vegetables, such as citrus fruits, peppers, strawberries, and broccoli, are great sources of vitamin C. You should be able to get all the vitamin C that you need from a varied and balanced diet – around 40mg per day between the ages of 19-64. However, your body cannot store vitamin C, so you need to ensure you’re getting enough of it each day.
Vitamin D contributes to skin cell growth and repair. The best source of vitamin D is sunlight, but the amount of time sunlight you need depends on your skin tone. This is because dark skinned individuals need a greater amount of sunlight to produce the same amount of vitamin D as a fair skinned individual. The exact amount of time you’ll need is not known, but if you are a fair skinned individual you should aim to get between 10-15 minutes of sunlight a day. Whereas if you have a darker skin tone you may need anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours. In the UK, especially up North, it can be difficult to catch sunlight everyday so you may benefit from taking a vitamin D supplement.
Omega-3 is thought to help protect the epidermis (the outer layer of skin) from the sun and pollution. Foods containing omega 3 include mackerel, salmon, flaxseeds and walnuts.
Foods to avoid
There is much debate over whether dairy inflames and even causes acne. One theory is that IGF-1 (Insulin-like Growth Factor 1) in cow’s milk is the trigger. Cow’s milk is of course intended to feed calves and stimulate growth. If you are prone to acne, it could be worth reducing your dairy intake or cutting it out altogether. This will allow you to see if your skin clears up. There are plenty of alternatives to cow’s milk, such as oat and soya drink that you could try in the meantime.
Another cause could be a lactose intolerance. A staggering 65% of the population has reduced ability to digest lactose so, it is possible an allergy or intolerance is the cause of your breakouts.
Processed carbohydrates and sugar
These foods are generally high on the glycaemic index so will cause a spike in your blood sugar levels and initiates as similar response to dairy. While there is not yet conclusive evidence, it it believed that this response prompts your body to produce excess sebum, which can lead to clogged pores and breakouts in some people. The glycaemic index assigns a value to foods based on their impact on blood glucose levels. Foods high on the glycaemic index include sugary drinks, white bread, white rice and potatoes.
If you’d like to learn more about eating more healthily, you can join our free Lose Weight programme, which involves 6 free 30-minute support sessions. In these sessions, our Health Coaches will advise you on what foods would be most suitable for you and your lifestyle to help you feel more energetic and healthier.Back to Blog