Acne plagued me from 7 years old, well before any of my classmates knew what a zit or a period was. Not a few pimples – big, raw, cystic acne on my face, chest and back. There was very little I could do to control them, and doctors put me on any drug possible under the sun. Which was ironic, because I was never allowed to be in the sun. And because they can’t test drugs on kids, it was mostly experimental and the side effects weren’t very well known. Clearly skin is near and dear to my heart! As well as it being our largest organ, etc. But if you’re reading this, you’ve probably already read that somewhere else!
Here are my favourite nutrients to keep and to cut to improve your skin.
1. Remove dairy
Here’s the thing – the proteins in dairy products can bind to testosterone receptors on the skin, developing acne. Skim milk is worse, as it’s missing the fat component of the molecules, which can protect against this binding. Dairy is also highly inflammatory to a ‘leaky gut’, aka intestinal permeability, as the large proteins can easily pass through open gap junctures through the gut. Which takes us to…
2. Take out any foods that you may have an allergy to
For some, it might be gluten, nightshades, dairy, sugar, or alcohol, among other foods. While the gut naturally is permeable to allow nutrients to be taken up in to the body, the condition of intestinal permeability is caused when these tight gap junctions is broken further apart by a protein called zonulin. Other factors that influence gut permeability include stress, infections, age, and toxic load, including medications and plastics. When the gap junctions allow particles into the bloodstream more readily, the body realises these ‘foreign invaders’ don’t belong here, and attacks them. For more on leaky gut, see my other blog (here)
3. Increase fatty acids
Not only are fatty acids anti-inflammatory, they’re full of fat-soluble vitamins that your skin loves! As a big ol’ fat-loving organ, increasing fatty acids in your diet improves skin texture and elasticity, as well as reducing the inflammation on the skin. This goes for dry, mature, oily and acne-prone skin. I like increasing fatty fish, preferably fresh over tinned, and cod liver oil, which has more Vitamin A and D.
Does it matter if I get capsules or liquid? Honestly, capsulated fish oils aren’t great quality. Those ones in the big $10 containers are often rancid. To determine rancidity, bite on the gel cap. There should be a very mild odour. Anything more than that means you should chuck them.
But I struggle to take liquid fish oil! Try taking it with food, especially with fatty foods and a digestive enzyme. If you have problems with the fish oil repeating on you, try taking it with dinner, when you’re on your way to bed and it can settle overnight.
4. Balance gut microbime
Your gut is home to trillions of microbes. An imbalance caused by toxic food intake, such as excess sugar, alcohol, infection, and foods that can upset it, throws off your whole tummy ecosystem. Ensure balance in the gut with a probiotic (mix up your brands to get a range of probiotic strains; also consider soil and spore-based probiotics), eat lots of good fibre, and consume good prebiotic foods – sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir, asparagus, collard greens, dandelion greens, pickles, kimchi, kvass, Jerusalem artichokes, garlic, leek, onions, jimica, under-ripe bananas, apples, konjac root, flaxseed and seaweed.
4. Eat all the fresh, brightly coloured fruit and vegetables you can get your hands on
Well maybe not all the fruit, keep it to approximately 25g a day, or 2-3 servings. My golden rule is always aim for at least 3 different colours of vegetables at each meal. Fruits and veggies contain bioflavonoids and polyphenols and lots of other cool-sounding chemical names that improve skin texture and tone. Plus our #1 friends, antioxidants, to fight oxidative damage, and stimulate cell production.
5. Take magnesium and zinc
Magnesium is responsible for over 300 enzymatic processes in the body. Magnesium provides power to your cells, helping with cell turnover. Zinc is one of the most important nutrients for skin – zinc decreases skin inflammation, improves wound healing, prevents bacterial infections, reducing acne breakouts, and keeping moisture in skin. Add a tablespoon of pumpkin seeds to a meal a day to get a great zinc boost.
6. Include collagen in your routine
Ah collagen, the supplement of the season! Everyone seems to be about collagen these days. And for good reason. Collagen can improve skin elasticity, reverse signs of ageing, helps heal inflammatory markers on the skin, speeds up wound healing, and tightens stretching of the skin, which can prevent cellulite and stretch marks. I personally prefer gelatin, as it can have some greater benefits for internal
7. Drink green and white tea
These teas contain skin-boosting antioxidants and show fresh, bright-looking skin. Drink up! Do stay mindful about caffeine consumption in the afternoon. Caffiene has a half-life of 5-6 hours – that means that if you have a caffeinated drink at 4pm, you’ll still be buzzing at 9-10pm.
8. Bump up your selenium
Selenium is an incredible antioxidant that boosts skin firmness and elasticity. Fun fact: 3-5 Brazil nuts will give you your daily requirement of selenium! It can also be found in walnuts, tuna, red snapper, herring, other seafood, onion, brown rice, chicken and turkey.
9. Vitamin C for super skin
Vitamin C is my favourite nutrient. It’s used in soooooo many different processes. Vitamin C helps improve the synthesis of collagen, the absorption of iron, and the bioavailability of selenium. Plus it improves wound healing, which, you might have picked up, is pretty essential for skin! Bonus: if you’re stressed, your body loves Vitamin C even more, so throw a teaspoon or 2 in to your water. Or add in citrus fruits, strawberries, guava, kiwifruit, broccoli, capsicum, chilli pepper or parsley.
10. Silica for success
Silica is a trace nutrient that I feel is often left out when talking about skin. Guess what silica does? Improves wound healing! Silica can also help regenerate skin cells. Silica is found in leeks, strawberries, mango, celery, asparagus, cucumber, red lentils and green beans.
Recipe for Skin Success
I love a good smoothie. What better way to fill your body with fast-delivered nutrients to the body? This is a pretty filling smoothie, with a great amount of protein and fats to balance the sugar in the fruits, as well as excellent fibre.
Skin Smoothing Smoothie Bowl
1 scoops protein powder (optional)
1 handful frozen spinach
½ cup strawberries
½ frozen kiwi
1 tbsp ground flaxseed
1 cup coconut, almond or cashew milk
1 tbsp hemp seeds (add 1-2 tbsp on top if not using protein powder)
1 tbsp pumpkin seeds
1-3 chopped Brazil nuts
1. Add all ingredients except the hemp and pumpkin seeds to a blender. Blend on high speed until all ingredients are combined.
2. Pour in to a glass. Top with Brazil nuts + hemp and pumpkin seeds. Adding the seeds on top will encourage you to chew your smoothie, which will help encourage the release of digestive enzymes to better absorb this nutrient rich concoction.