Health: Eat your way to a better complexion

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Changing the condition of your skin could be as simple as changing your diet according to a leading skincare specialist.

Dermatologist Dr Terry Loong said good skin starts with good nourishment. Older skin cells are constantly shed and replaced by younger ones and a steady supply of micronutrients is essential to support this rapid growth. By eating a well balanced diet with a variety of nurtritional foods, the skin will be fed the vital nutrients it needs to stay supple and blemish-free. So having a poor diet can mean that expensive anti-ageing cream or a strict skincare regime may not be enough to keep the wrinkles or break-outs at bay.

Fruit and vegetables contain powerful antioxidants which help protect skin. Nutritionists recommend eating as many colourful fruit and vegetables as possible aiming for at least five portions a day. Betacarotene, found in pumpkin, carrots and sweet potatoes, and lutein, found in kale, papaya and spinach are potent antioxidants, important for normal skin cell development and healthy skin tone. Don’t be afraid of fats monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found in avocados, fish, nuts and seeds, provide essential fatty acids which act as a natural moisturiser for your skin, keeping it supple.

Hydration is vitally important for skin as it needs moisture to stay flexible and even mild dehydration will cause a dry complexion.

“Alcohol, dairy, sugar and wheat can also have detrimental effects on the skin,” advises Dr Terry.

“Alcohol causes dehydration and also affects the liver, which helps the body rid itself of toxins. This can cause the skin to look grey and dry,” she explained.

Sugar and dairy can both be inflammatory, affecting hormonal balance, increasing oil production and increasing the risk of breakouts. Another side-effect associated with sugar is accelerated ageing. This is due to glycation which is when glucose molecules attach themselves to collagen preventing it from doing its job keeping skin plump and healthy-looking.

Sugar, like caffeine can also increase the stress hormone cortisol. This causes the body to divert energy away from the skin, which can lead to wrinkles and reduced elasticity. Although caffeine in small doses is said to provide beneficial antioxidants, remember it is also a diuretic, which means it helps to draw water out of the body, again causing dehydration.

We are approaching the season when there can be a real temptation to loose weight fast. But beware of crash dieting, as well as generally being low in essential vitamins, repeatedly losing and regaining weight can take its toll on your skin, causing sagging and wrinkles.

RIGHT VITAMINS FOR HEALTHY SKIN

Vitamin C: A super antioxidant needed for a strong immune system. It helps blemishes heal properly and promotes radiant skin. Good sources are blackcurrants, blueberries, broccoli, oranges, and sweet potatoes.

Vitamin E: Protects skin from oxidative (cell) damage and supports healthy skin growth. Good sources include almonds, avocado, hazelnuts, pine nuts, sunflower and corn oils.

Selenium: Works alongside other antioxidants Brazil nuts are a good source.

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