Healthy Skin Diet Do’s & Don’ts
Nutrition influences skin health, integrity, and tone. Well-documented studies have shown that dietary changes can improve skin structure, reverse any negative skin symptoms, and improve appearance.
Choose your food types wisely to achieve a healthier, clearer and radiant skin complexion.
High sugar, refined carbohydrate (a combination of sugar, starch and fibre), processed, fried foods, fizzy drinks and alcohol are commonplace in the western diet. These foods lack good nutrients essential for good health and a happy skin, therefore best to be avoided.
High sugar, refined carbohydrate food types are high glycaemic foods, also known as a High-GI foods. They raise the production of insulin levels and, if consumed daily, even for a short period of time, they cause inflammation to the body’s organs, together with symptoms such as headaches, feeling tired, cravings, muscle pain, lethargy, and can be detrimental to health, including skin health.
The skin, known to be the largest organ of the body, is greatly affected, causing skin conditions such as dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, acne breakouts, and may damage collagen and accelerate wrinkles, leading to premature aging of the skin.
Unhealthy food and drink, including alcohol combinations, can also have a negative impact on the “gut-skin axis”, the connections between our skin and digestive system. The gut microbiome, the bacteria in our intestines which influences our overall health, especially our skin, is compromised if these food types are consumed regularly.
In addition, eating on the go utilises the energy required for moving rather than digesting, which prevents the digestive system from functioning efficiently. These western habits undermine the body’s equilibrium and do not allow the important ‘rest & digest’ process to take place. Prolonged use results in indigestion, bloating, and other uncomfortable digestive symptoms, thus preventing the absorption of any good nutrients that might have been consumed to feed vital organs in the body, including the skin.
It is inevitable that an unhealthy diet creates an unhappy skin: dull, dry, dehydrated, flaky, irritation, redness, rosacea, eczema, psoriasis, uneven skin tone, discolouration, puffy, bloated, dark eye dark circles, acne symptoms such as spots, pimples, congested pores, blackheads, whiteheads, milia, nodulocystic, and additional signs of ageing such as fine lines, wrinkles, loss of skin tone and lack of voluminosity.
Sugar & Refined carbohydrates – High GI
Although the exact cause of acne is unknown, studies following non-Westernised populations suggest that diet, especially High-GI is involved, also creating inflammatory skin conditions; dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis and rosacea.
The western world is living in a sugar epidemic. Some studies suggest that excess sugar is as addictive as street drugs like cocaine.
Eating sugar fuels every cell in the brain which releases opioids and dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is a key part of the reward-circuit, thus keeping you wanting more. Every time you eat sugar you are simply reinforcing that reward, thus making it hard to break the cycle.
The glycaemic index (GI) is a rating system for foods containing carbohydrates. The GI allocates a rating to each food, dependant on the sugar content and how quickly the carbohydrate content of a food can be converted into blood glucose. The Glycaemic load can be described as the sugar factor of food.
A Low-Gl diet will support good skin health, as well as a feeling of overall improved health and wellbeing. Low-GI whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, pulses, oats and healthy fats are ‘Nutrient-rich’. These Low-GI food types are slow-releasing carbohydrates. which release their energy into the blood stream gradually to provide you with a steady supply of energy.
Processed foods that have a high carbohydrate and added sugar content when packaged provide a High-GI level.
Look to follow a Low-GI diet if you want to improve skin health. Always check the carbohydrate and sugar content on the food package, and select produce that is low in these and also low in salt and saturated fat as an all-round healthier option.
Raw and home cooked foods are by far the better option.
Foods High on the Gl Index & Simple Swaps
Cereals (ie. Cornflakes)
Stevia or eliminate entirely
Wholegrain pasta / Courgetti
Wholegrain rice / Quinoa /Cauliflower rice
Oat based cereal (no added sugar)
Sweet potato / Root vegetables
Date based treats
Natural based cordials
Home cooked & raw foods
Limit your fruit intake to 2 servings a day – Select Low-GI fruits such as; Lemons & limes, Raspberries, Strawberries, Blackberries, Cherries, Kiwis, Grapefruit, Avocado
Dietary Tips – To Support Skin Health
Support Your Skin Health
Plan and prepare your own meals to know exactly what you are eating. Aim to eat 3 meals at regular intervals each day will help to regulate the insulin levels, which in turn will regulate energy levels. When we eat food containing carbohydrates, our digestive system breaks them down into sugar, which then enters the blood. As our blood sugar levels rise, the pancreas produces insulin, a hormone that prompts cells to absorb blood sugar for energy. Excess is stored if it’s not used. Continuous excess over time may affect mood, contribute to weight gain and skin complications.
Allow your body to rest and digest and consider intermittent fasting to boost the gut microbiome.
Eat 5 portions of vegetables and fruits with a variety of colours each day to ensure you receive the essential combination of nutrients, antioxidants required for normal skin cell development and healthy skin. In addition, they provide prebiotics, polyphenols and fibre which support a healthy gut microbiome thus a healthy “gut-skin axis”.
Include plenty of green leafy vegetables into your daily diet, such as: Spinach, Kale and Collards. These leafy greens are packed full of a variety of nutrients that help support skin health, to include powerful antioxidant that eliminate free radicals (damaging cell invaders) from your skin cells, and zinc which contains anti-inflammatory properties.
Eat a variety of orange and yellow vegetables to support skin health. They are rich in Vitamin C and carotenoids, including beta carotene which converts to vitamin A in the body. They are high in antioxidants, a critical factor for collagen synthesis, photoprotection, and decreasing photodamage, which are needed for healing.
Oily fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines are crucial to include in your daily diet for optimum skin health. Fish oil is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. They can serve to regulate the skin’s oil production, reduce acne symptoms, improve skin hydration, and minimise signs of aging.
Snacks such as a selection of nuts and seeds, such as almond, walnut, pecan, brasil, cashew, pistachio, pumpkin, sunflower, and flax seeds provide a good source of protein, healthy fats, fibres, vitamins and minerals like copper, zinc, vitamin A, C and E which contribute to skin wellbeing.
Powerful polyphenols are not only found in fruit and vegetables rich in red and purple hues to include apples, berries and olives. Other foods rich in polyphenols include cocoa powder, dark chocolate, nuts, soy, cloves and other spices, beans and green tea. Polyphenols protect the body’s tissues against oxidative stress and inflammation and supports a healthy gut microbiome.
Fermented foods contribute to cultivate a healthy diverse gut microbiome. A healthy gut microbiome is the 100 trillion or so bacteria and microorganisms that live in your digestive tract. A healthier microbe strengthens the walls of the intestines, and protect against disease and inflammatory related conditions. They can help improve digestion, boost immunity, and reduce inflammation, all of which benefit skin health.
Only eat refrigerated sauerkraut, miso and kimchi, pickles in salt, not vinegar. Sugar free probiotic drinks such as kombucha, beet Kvass and apple cider. Cultured products such as live yogurt and of course no added sugar. Sourdough bread is a great bread option, select carefully if you have intolerances.
It is well founded that eating chocolate is pro-acne. Since the sixties, there have been endless of studies to ascertain whether chocolate is a possible contributing factor to acne symptoms. Some suggest that it may be the dairy, or the sugar, and even the chemicals used to create the chocolate that cause breakouts on your skin.
Some studies show that even participants eating a very high percentage of dark chocolate over a period of time were even worse victims of nasty acne lesions.
Eat moderately, if you are victim of the chocolate curse.
According to most evidence-based studies dairy can be pro-acne. Unfortunately, the researchers are still trying to establish what the underlying correlation could be.
It is a plausible theory that consuming dairy produce from dairy cows treated with artificial hormones could affect our hormones. Or that the growth hormones already in milk, naturally aggravate acne no matter what. A hormone imbalance is known to trigger acne symptoms in some people.
Dairy products, combined with the high levels of refined foods and processed sugars, can disrupt insulin levels, which are also known to be acne prone factors.
Luckily alternate dairy options are so diverse we are covered.
Unfortunately, cheap, fast and fried food has become the cultural norm. Studies show it doesn’t come without a cost to our overall health, and in fact our skin health. We experience greater skin inflammation and acne symptoms when consuming large proportions of these foods.
Simply Avoid. Why not try to make your own fast food – roast a big tray of root vegetables, enough for a few days, or a big batch of your favourite dish, and freeze in single portions so they defrost quickly ready to re-heat, and are healthier than processed food or a take-out.
Herbs & Spices
Not only do they add incredible flavour, variety, and a colourful culinary treat to home cooked foods, but there is evidence they provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antitumorigenic, anticarcinogenic, glucose and cholesterol lowering activities, as well as properties that affect cognition and mood.
Here are a few that fall into the list of health benefits above; add into your food or even make a tea from turmeric, ginger, chilli, cinnamon, sage, cayenne pepper, cumin, garlic, fenugreek, rosemary, cardamon, parsley, basil.
A little chilli spice is nice, too much too often can contribute to skin flushing, sensitive skin, rosacea, and dilated capillaries. Enjoy, but eat moderately if you are prone to these skin complications.
Avoid carbonated and sugary drinks. Limit fresh fruit juice. Although a healthier option, they’re really High on the spectrum of GI.
Reduce caffeinated drinks such as breakfast tea, green tea, coffee and energy drinks. Caffeine is a natural diuretic, a process whereby it will rid your body of water and nutrients. If consumed too often daily they cause some dehydration in the body and of course the skin, so keep to a maximum of two servings per day. Avoid drinking in the evenings if you want to get to sleep.
Although studies have shown that there are possible health benefits from drinking coffee. A good quality coffee in the morning could be a great wake up to get you going for the day. Remember moderation is key!
Aim to drink 8 glasses of water per day. This will aid your digestive system to flush out toxins from the body, as well promote cellular hydration to improve your complexion for healthy, hydrated and glowing skin.
Add a splash of natural Low-GI botanical infusion for a tasty variation to the water.
Herbal infused teas should hold pride of place in your daily diet as they are a healthy replacement for tea and coffee, and there are so many varieties with an array of health and mood benefits. Here are a few suggestions; relaxing chamomile, sleep enhancing valerian, anti-spasmodic peppermint tea, detoxifying nettle tea, anti-cold lemon with ginger, and great tasting fruit varieties. Green tea has an array of health benefits for your body and brain and is high in antioxidants that can improve the health of the skin. But there is a caveat, it does contain caffeine.
Alcohol affects blood sugar levels each time it’s consumed. Even the occasional drinker can be negatively impacted. Drinking too much alcohol over a long period of time decreases the effectiveness of insulin, which leads to high blood sugar levels and health implications such as diabetes.
Alcohol is a ‘diuretic’. This means your skin loses fluid and nutrients, which dehydrates your entire body, including the skin. This leads to dry, dehydrated, flaky skin. Alcohol increases blood flow, which can cause localised facial skin flushing and dilated capillaries, and can become permanent.
There are so many new rages of alcohol-free options coming onto the shelves these days that are delicious and carry no risk of a hangover!
Follow a diverse healthy diet but do allow yourself treats on occasions.
A diverse and consistent healthy diet is key!
‘Why are Meal Plans So Important’
‘Meal Planning Step By Step Guide’
Support your diet with supplements and vitamins where needed to promote healthier skin.
Ideal Choice – ‘Viridian’ Supplements
- Antioxidant Formula
- Clear Skin Complex
- Natural Vitamin E
- Organic Scandinavian Rainbow Trout Oil
- Vegan EPA & DHA Oil
- Organic Turmeric
- Synerbio Daily High Strength
Viridian Supplements are available at:
Emporium Treatment Clinic.
Visit our SHOP here.
Skin Care Advice
With over 35+ years, The Emporium Treatment Clinic senior aesthetician and wellness advocate, Angela is here to provide skin care advice on how to help you keep your skin healthy, radiant and youthful.
If you are nearby to Marylebone, why not pop in, 90 York Street.
Skin care products I trust & recommend:
Dermalogica – Mesoestetic – Dr Shrammek
Food For Life – Tim Spector
The Clear Skin Cookbook – The Medicinal Chef Dale Pinnock
Fuel Food Cookbook – Oliver McCabe
That Sugar Film – An Australian documentary
Revised Article January 2024
Skin Care & Body Analysis & Consultation
Available at Emporium Treatment Clinic provided by Angela Taffinder the founder of Emporium Treatment Clinic and practising Aesthetician for 35+ years
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Health & Wellness Analysis & Consultation
Available at Emporium Treatment Clinic provided by highly qualified, experienced Doctors, Nutritionist, Holistic Medicine practitioners and Wellness experts.
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