AS the saying goes, you are what you eat – but it’s not only our bodies that draw benefits from food, our faces do too.
Dr Hasia Al Khubra, a GP specialising in dermatology, and nutritionist Amanda Ursell, tell Lynsey Hope what to eat to beat common skin ailments . . .
“THE best foods for limiting hair loss include fatty fish, eggs, leafy greens and nuts,” explains Dr Al Khubra.
“They provide nutrients including vitamin A, which improves hair health, as well as vitamin D, vitamin B12 and iron.
“Alcohol is something you should avoid, as it affects how your body metabolises zinc, which is essential for the health of your hair.
“Gluten is thought to worsen hair loss, particularly if you have a gluten allergy or intolerance. If you suspect this may be the cause, consult your GP.”
Avoid: White bread
“CERTAIN foods are thought to speed up the ageing process, including sugar, alcohol and processed carbohydrates such as white bread and cereals,” explains Dr Al Khubra.
“These can damage collagen, which is essential for keeping skin youthful.
“Alcohol and foods high in saturated fats are also thought to cause inflammation and increase ageing.
"But foods rich in antioxidants, in particular purple fruits such as plums and blackberries, help with anti-ageing as they contain vitamin C, which boosts collagen and aids iron absorption.”
Eat: Sweet potato
“STARCHY carbs with a low GI (carbohydrates that are broken down slowly), like sweet potato, are better for people with acne than high GI carbs,” Amanda explains.
“Scientists found levels of proteins associated with acne decreased when patients had a low-GI diet.
"So opt for porridge rather than cornflakes for breakfast and wholegrain pitta instead of white bread for lunch.
“People often say chocolate contributes to acne and there is evidence that supports a link between whey – found in milk and chocolate – and increased acne.”
“EGGS, nuts and fish are all thought to be good for rosacea as they contain healthy fats including omega-3 which helps calm inflammation,” says Dr Al Khubra.
“But other foods trigger rosacea. Spicy foods contain capsaicin, a chemical that affects the pain receptors in your skin that feel warmth, and can exacerbate the appearance of rosacea.
“Similarly, alcohol increases the production of inflammatory cytokines, which are cell-signalling molecules.
“This causes a widening of the blood vessels and exacerbates rosacea.”
“FOODS that provide hydration and antioxidants are thought to help the delicate eye area,” says Dr Al Khubra.
“When we get dehydrated, the vessels become more obvious, creating dark circles, so I recommend increasing water intake to improve hydration.
“Celery is also thought to be beneficial as it contains electrolyte minerals including sodium and potassium, which help to regulate fluid and reduce under eye puffiness.
“A diet high in salt can also worsen bags as it causes fluid to build up underneath the eye – so avoid salty curries and fast food.”
“THE super-nutrient quercetin, found naturally in tea, apples and onions may be helpful,” Amanda explains.
“It has been shown to stop the release of histamine from cells and may help to reduce your skin’s overall reaction.
"It is available in supplement form or in combination with other nutrients, such as Vitamin C which improves the gut’s absorption of quercetin.
“In terms of what to avoid, nuts, eggs and gluten tend to be common triggers, but it’s important to consult a specialist to figure out what you need to eliminate from your diet.”
AMANDA says: “Research has shown eating wholegrain versions of bread, pasta, rice, wraps and oats – as well as ‘good’ bacteria found in probiotic yoghurts, kimchi and supplements – can feed the beneficial bacteria in our guts and reduce inflammation, which contributes to psoriasis.
“Likewise, salmon, sardines, mackerel, walnuts and chia seeds are also beneficial due to their omega-3 essential fats.
“Drinking alcohol can also worsen symptoms as it overstimulates the production of cells in the upper layer of our skin.”
“DERMATITIS is a general term for conditions that trigger inflammation of our skin,” says Amanda.
“Some foods are known to exacerbate this, such as processed meats and foods high in sugar. So it makes sense to avoid these when living with inflamed skin conditions.
“Mediterranean and Nordic diets are rich in wholegrains, pulses and other plant-based proteins such as nuts and seeds, as well as vegetables and fruits, which are known to help bring down inflammation.
"Basing meals and snacks on these foods may help to calm the symptoms of dermatitis.”
Eat: Leafy greens
DR Al Khubra says: “Anti-inflammatory foods such as green, leafy vegetables and probiotic foods including kefir and kombucha are all thought to reduce inflammation in the body and lower your risk of eczema flare-ups.
“It has been suggested that consuming omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish such as mackerel, tuna, herring and salmon improved eczema symptoms overall, although more research is needed.
“You should also limit spicy foods, gluten or wheat and processed food which could contribute to flare-ups.”