In the modern world, there are a seemingly an infinite amount of treatments for skin problems, but not many of them involve food we eat every day. Yogurt, flaxseed, blueberries and salmon, anyone? The adage, “You are what you eat,” is truer than ever. It should come as no surprise then, that sugar is one of the worst offenders in many of our health issues today. It is important to avoid refined sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and processed foods.
Meagen McCusker, associate professor of dermatology at the University of Connecticut Health Center says, “Not only can sugar cause inflammations in the body, but it also adversely affects cell membranes and by extension can break down collagen.” Juliet Rodman, a D.C. dietitian and co-founder of Corporate Wellness Solutions also says, “Stay away from anything that comes in a box,” she says, “both because of the added sugars and because of other additives. Instead, gobble up produce of all colors, plus nuts and seeds, to get minerals, fiber and vitamins A, C and E.”She says that nuts, dark green leafy vegetables are full of zinc, kale is good for vitamins A and C; sunflower seeds and almonds are a great source of vitamin E.
“McCusker also suggests grass-fed beef, fish oil and flaxseed for healthful fats and proteins. Another smart move is the addition into the diet of probiotics, which can be found in yogurt and kefir as well as nutritional supplements. (She prefers supplements over yogurt because they contain much higher amounts of probiotics.) There is evidence, McCusker says, that probiotics not only help digestive tract health but also help make skin healthy and happy. Other than yogurt and kefir, dairy is not recommended, she says.. From an evolutionary standpoint we don’t need dairy once we are weaned,” she says. “And for many people with acne, dairy can worsen the condition. Instead, drink plenty of water.”Rodman adds that hydration becomes even more important for the skin as we age and consequently dry out. “Dehydration tends to shrivel the skin,” she says. “It’s about taking a logical approach to skin and nutrition,” Rodman says. “When you promote good skin, you promote overall good health.”Besides just eating healthy foods and drinking enough water, attaining good skin will require more than just food and drink. In addition to healthful food and hydration, promoting good skin requires a holistic approach. Keep an eye on stress, physical activity levels and sleep, and protect your skin from too much sun and environmental hazards, Dattner says, adding that any therapy — whether it’s based on high-tech pharmaceuticals or holistic lifestyle change — takes time.“If you have had bad habits — including bad nutrition — for 15 years, it’s not realistic to expect changes in two to three weeks,” he says. “But start moving in a sensible direction — eating less sugar and more vegetables — and begin to identify what makes a difference for you.”