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Eating for beautiful skin: How proper nutrition can help you get healthy, glowing skin

Healthy skin does not only make you look great, it is an indicator of your overall health. Your skin, like all the other organs in your body, processes the nutrients from the food you eat, and uses it to fortify and renew itself. The natural ingredients in your food can speed the pace of exfoliation, cell renewal, and protect skin from the UV damage that causes brown spots and wrinkles. So a healthy diet, tailored to your specific needs, can have a substantial impact on your skin, hair and overall appearance

How diet affects your skin?

Naturally good skin is not entirely down to the luck of being passed good genes (although that does help!); it has a lot to do with your diet. Proper nutrition helps our skin age better. Eating the right foods can improve skin elasticity, facial wrinkling, roughness and colour, all of which lead to a better skin appearance. Our lead Dermatologist, Dr. Sachin Dhawan, explains the importance of good nutrition and why you should avoid certain foods in order to keep your skin healthy and acne-free.

Why is sugar bad for your skin?

Sugar, or processed foods which are rich in refined carbohydrates, have been shown to increase the risk of developing and/or aggravating acne. This has to do with the domino effect of increased glucose levels in the blood (refined carbs and sugary drinks are absorbed rapidly in the bloodstream), which results in an increase in insulin levels to shuttle the glucose into the cells for use, or store them as fat. The high levels of insulin the blood can lead to increased activity of hormones like androgen hormones and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) – which lead to an increase in breakouts by boosting sebum production, among other things.

Dr. Sachin recommends a low-glycemic diet to his patients suffering from acne, to keep their insulin levels in check. Foods with a low glycemic index are digested more slowly, and cause a lower and slower rise in blood glucose, and thereby a slower rise in insulin. While some recent studies have suggested that diet may not be as closely associated with acne, as many doctors and patients alike will attest, following a healthy (whole grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables) diet consistently leads to positive results.

Does dairy cause breakouts?

There are several scientific studies that have shown a link between consuming dairy products and an increase in acne. While there hasn’t been a “cause and effect” link established, doctors do see an improvement or reduction in breakouts for patients after they reduce or completely cut out dairy. While it is not clear how exactly milk exacerbates acne, it does lead to an increase in blood insulin levels, which in turn can worse acne. Cow’s milk also contains amino acids that stimulate the liver to produce more IGF-1, which as mentioned above leads to increased sebum production and thus breakouts.

Cutting out dairy products like milk, cheese and ice cream has been shown to reduce acne, and increasing your intake of other foods like green vegetables can compensate for your nutritional requirements of calcium and vitamins A & D.

What to eat for glowing skin?

A simple rule to follow when trying to figure out a healthy diet is – fill your plate with multi-coloured vegetables and/or fruits every day, choose whole grains like brown rice and quinoa over processed foods like maida and white-bread. Make sure your meals include:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids:regular consumption of foods rich in Omega-3s, like walnuts, fish, flax seeds and soybeans, has been linked to a reduced risk of developing acne (and it is great heart health!).
  • Vitamins A, D, E and zinc:These nutrients play crucial roles in skin and immune health and may help prevent acne, so don’t hold back on carrots, green leafy vegetables and almonds
  • Vitamin B & C: an anti-oxidant involved in the synthesis of collagen, vitamin C is a powerful nutrient for healthy skin. Many fruits, including mangoes, papayas, pomegranates, berries, amla, oranges, guavas and vegetables like broccoli, bell pepper, beet root and cauliflowers are rich in these super vitamins and antioxidants.
  • Whole grains: Cutting down on overly-processed carbs can have a dramatic effect on your skin. Opt for fiber-rich whole grains like brown rice and quinoa, which are also rich in other vitamins and minerals that have been proven to improve your overall health.

Ultimately, if you don’t eat well, you don’t look well. A bad diet, lack of hydration or too much stress …it all starts showing up on your skin. And if you don’t take care of your overall health, an external application of even the best skin and cosmetic products will have very limited impact on your skin!

What’s the right skin diet for me?

If you would like to understand your skin better, and get advice on the diet that is best for your needs, you can consult with Dr. Sachin Dhawan to get a thorough evaluation and personalised diet and skin health advice. Book an appointment at the Clinic or consult online using the Skin ‘n Smiles app!

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