Many of us are already aware that a diet rich in fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grains is the key to a healthier life, but did you know that eating certain foods could also help to improve your skin?
The skin is the largest organ of our body and it is highly sensitive to our diet. ‘An anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle is pivotal for improving skin health. I noticed many years ago that when I was assisting patients with their health challenges (a lot of these are inflammation based) that their skin improved as well.’
Wendy Dumaresq, Natural Health Practitioner
A diverse diet is also great for your gut health which in turn helps drive the overall health of your skin.
What is Inflammation?
Inflammation is a protective immune response mechanism that allows our body to defend itself against illness, injury or infection. Inflammation is a necessary component of the body’s healing process. When the body responds to damaged cells it releases antibodies and proteins and also increases blood flow to the affected area. Without inflammation, wounds would never heal.
Sometimes inflammation can become chronic, affecting our long term health and well-being. This can be harmful to your body as the inflammatory response can eventually start to damage healthy cells.
Signs of chronic inflammation include:
- Extra weight around your waist
- Chronic tiredness
- Digestive issues
- Skin problems such as eczema, acne and psoriasis
- High blood glucose levels
- Facial puffiness or puffy under-eye bags
- Gum disease
Certain lifestyle habits can actually promote inflammation. Consuming a diet high in sugar, refined carbs, processed foods, packaged foods, alcohol, poor quality of sleep and getting little exercise are all associated with increased inflammation in the body.
Eating an anti-inflammatory based diet will keep the inflammation happening in your body to a minimum.
Recent research has also highlighted the link between inflammation and acne, showing that inflammation can influence acne at all stages of its development. If you're looking for an anti-inflammatory diet for acne then the following information could be beneficial to you.
How an Anti-Inflammatory Diet can Help Fight Inflammation
An anti-inflammatory diet provides a healthy balance of protein, carbs and good fats at every meal.
According to Frank Lipman M.D., anti-inflammatory foods are rich in antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and nutrients, which help the body to fight against inflammation as well providing it with ‘essential components that support optimal body function’. A diet that is high in processed foods, sugar, and unhealthy fats can contribute to chronic inflammation. On the other hand, a diet rich in nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory foods can help reduce inflammation and improve skin health.
An anti-inflammatory diet is great for perioral dermatitis. Kiri, AMPERNA® founder, found that it helped her own perioral dermatitis and now she advises others to eat well via our Telehealth Holistic Coaching Service.
'During my first perioral dermatitis flare up I used the Soothing Duo and cleansing with water-only method. It's now been a year since that flare up and I've not had it reoccur and I truly believe it's because of the AMPERNA® products and also what I call the perioral dermatitis diet (aka, an anti-inflammatory diet)' Alison, AMPERNA® office administrator.
Anti-Inflammatory Foods for Skin
Here are four awesome ‘skin health’ foods you can add to your anti-inflammatory or perioral dermatitis diet to start helping your skin right now:
Brazil nuts are very high in selenium, a trace mineral and powerful antioxidant. Selenium is known to help fight acne by decreasing inflammation when combined with vitamin E and zinc. It can also help to fight free radicals, which can damage cells and lead to premature ageing.
Grapefruits are full of vitamin C, which is also an antioxidant.
Grapefruit also increases the pH of the skin, which may help to reduce acne.
Dark, leafy greens are some of the best anti-inflammatory foods in our grocery store. They are rich in chlorophyll, an antioxidant that may help to reduce and slow down cell damage.
Spinach is one of the highest water-content foods at 92% water, which means it can also help to replace moisture in your skin.
‘Consuming fruits and vegetables that are high in water more efficiently rebalances the water in your system because these foods are surrounded by molecules that help deliver the water they contain into cells more easily,’ says Dr Howard Murad, professor of medicine at UCLA.
Referred to as ‘little blue dynamos that hold the key to better skin, hair and health’, it’s hard to overlook blueberries when it comes to choosing foods that could benefit skin health.
Blueberries are rich in antioxidants and have been found to help reduce acne and fight the signs of ageing by aiding in the production of collagen and neutralising free radicals. They can help to strengthen blood vessels and heal broken capillaries(3).
Other Anti-Inflammatory Foods That You may Consider Adding to Your Diet
Other leafy greens such as broccoli, kale and collard greens
Nuts including almonds and walnuts
Fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines)
Dark red grapes
Inflammatory Foods to Avoid
To reduce inflammation and improve skin health, it's important to avoid certain foods that can contribute to chronic inflammation. These include:
- Dairy Products: Dairy products, including cow's milk, cheese, and yoghurt, can increase inflammation in some individuals.
- Gluten: Gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, can also contribute to inflammation and should be avoided.
- Processed Foods: Processed foods, such as chips, crackers, and packaged snacks, are high in unhealthy fats and refined sugars, which can increase inflammation.
- Sugary Foods: Foods high in sugar, such as sweets, cookies, and sweetened drinks, can also increase inflammation.
- Caffeine: Caffeine, found in coffee, tea, and energy drinks, can be pro-inflammatory for some individuals.
Need Some More Dietary Guidance?
Finding the right diet for your own skin may involve some trial and error, or a consultation with a dietary health practitioner. While experimenting with which foods to add to your diet, it’s also recommended that you reduce your intake of certain foods.
‘A diet high in sugar and high-glycemic index (GI) carbohydrates such as white rice, pasta, bread and sweets have now been shown to cause inflammation in the body that can make the skin age much quicker,’ says dermatologist Dr Stefanie Williams.
Some people can also be allergic to certain substances and chemicals in food. Our blog post Could Histamines be Triggering Your Skin Condition may be a great place to start for help on what foods to eliminate.
Anti-inflammatory Skin Care
Our skincare is full of anti-inflammatory and antibacterial ingredients so if you are looking for anti-inflammatory skin care for acne, perioral dermatitis, rosacea, eczema or other inflammatory skin issues you may like to check out our products.
Here are links to some diets that may help to reduce inflammation and improve the appearance of your skin:
7 Day Meal Plan to Banish Acne
Natural Health Practitioner Wendy Dumaresq’s Anti-Inflammatory Diet Plan (included in her book)
Radiant Women – Natural Healing for the Three Stages of Woman
Dr Perricone’s 28-day Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Have you found a food that’s helped to improve the appearance of your skin? We’d love to hear about it and any favourite recipes you have for skin health.