We asked Patrick Holford, leading nutritionist, author and the founder of the Institute for Optimum Nutrition how to create and maintain perfect skin. Your skin is a barometer of your body’s health, so improving your internal systems with the right nutrition can improve how you look.
Essential Nutrients for Healthy Skin
A good diet consisting of fresh, untreated foods is essential for the health of your entire body, not just your skin. One of the most important nutrients for the skin is water. Imagine a balloon filled with water – taut and firm to touch. Allow some of the water out and the balloon will shrink, the rubber may even become a little shrivelled. Deprive a skin cell of water and it will produce a similar result. Without adequate hydration, your cells cannot repair and regenerate – they also cannot clear waste products which build up in the cells and the blood. Another essential nutrient for healthy skin is essential fats – the skins needs a regular supply to stay smooth and supple. Antioxidants are also important – if you don’t get enough, your skin cannot protect itself from sun damage and pollution. Eating plenty of antioxidant-rich foods every day is therefore a key dietary factor. Some people eat healthy food but, for one reason or another, don’t digest it properly and therefore do not get the nutrients they need. Others are unknowingly eating foods they’re allergic to.
Clear Skin Diet
Due to the diverse nature of skin disorders and the many different underlying causes, it is impossible to give blanket guidelines which will cover all situations. So below are some guiding principles for an optimum diet, which should be followed alongside advice for specific skin disorders given on this site.
- Buy organic produce as much as possible.
- Aim for a daily diet that includes:
Pure water – drink six to eight glasses every day. Colourful fruit & vegetables – five servings that include red/orange/yellow vegetables and fruits, purple foods, green foods, ‘seed’ foods such as peas or broccoli, onions, leeks and garlic. Fresh seeds – a tablespoon a day, for example pumpkin, sunflower, sesame or ground hemp/linseed. Cold-pressed seed oils – a tablespoon, for example with salads, drizzled over vegetables or added to a smoothie. Vegetable sources of protein – enjoy foods such as soya, beans, lentils and sprouted seeds. Fibre-rich foods – rather than white refined foods, enjoy whole grains, root vegetables, lentils and beans. Natural yoghurt – choose low fat, live and organic
- Limit Your Intake of:
Alcohol – or avoid it completely. Tea and coffee – no more than 2 cups per day. Red meat – no more than three times per week. Have fish, organic chicken, game or vegetable sources of protein instead. Cheese and milk – try using dairy alternatives such as soya. Grain foods (those made from wheat, oats, rye etc) – have no more than two portions daily.
Sugar – including sugary foods and drinks such as sweets, jams, many cereals, biscuits, cakes and desserts. Refined carbohydrates – such as bread, biscuits, cakes, pastries, pastas and any foods containing white flour. Chemicals added to food, which includes many canned and most preserved or processed foods. Fried and fatty foods – chips, crisps, cream, ice cream etc. Trans and hydrogenated fats found in many processed foods and margarines. Smoking.
Using These Guidelines, a day’s meals may look like this:
Breakfast: natural, live yoghurt with chopped fresh fruits and a handful of pumpkin seeds. OR a muesli made from oats, fresh hazelnuts, sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds and raisins with natural yoghurt and some apple juice.
Lunch: a baked potato with tinned salmon, tomato, celery and spring onion, with olive oil and lemon juice. OR a big rice salad with many types of fresh vegetables, cottage cheese, pumpkin seeds, olive oil, lemon juice and freshly ground pepper.
Dinner: a hot meal of grilled fresh fish, chicken or lean meat or a vegetarian alternative made from beans, lentils or soya. Serve with a large helping of freshly steamed or lightly stir-fried vegetables. You can ‘steam-fry’ vegetables by using just the tiniest drop of oil and adding a couple of tablespoons of water, to, in effect, steam them.
Snacks: fresh fruit, raw nuts (eg almonds, hazelnuts or Brazils), pumpkin and sunflower seeds, raw vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, celery and cucumber.
Drinks: at least six glasses of water, herbal and fruit teas (beware of artificially flavoured or sweetened ones), diluted fresh fruit and vegetable juices, occasional smoothies, freshly made with fruits/fruit juices and yoghurt or soya milk.
To keep your skin super healthy I recommend you take:
- An ‘optimum nutrition’ strength multivitamin & mineral 1000mg of vitamin C, with berry extracts and zinc
- Omega 3 & omega 6 essential fats