Put the zing back into your skin

Irish Examiner - Feelgood - - Food - Clodagh Finn

BE­FORE you of­fer up your skin to the sun, con­sider this — one of the most ef­fec­tive ways of get­ting a sun-kissed glow is not to bask in the heat of sum­mer, but to eat the right foods.

While great skin­care prod­ucts — and of course sun­shine — all help you to look ra­di­ant, what we eat and how we live are key to healthy skin.

When it comes to glow­ing skin it re­ally is a case of beauty be­ing more than skin deep, says nu­tri­tion­ist Heather Lee­son, di­rec­tor of Glenville Nutri­tion.

“Our skin is our largest or­gan and a very good barom­e­ter of over­all health. What we chose to eat and drink can make a big­ger dif­fer­ence to the ap­pear­ance of our skin than an ex­pen­sive cream.” Yet we tend to opt for pricey po­tions and lo­tions which are of­ten de­signed to cover-up rather than nour­ish the skin.

With a few sim­ple diet changes, how­ever, you could save money and im­prove your skin.

In sum­mer, one of the key things to keep in mind is hy­dra­tion; it’s vi­tal for the skin. That means drink­ing up to two litres of wa­ter a day, but you can also hy­drate your skin by watch­ing what you eat, Lee­son ex­plains.

Eat­ing omega3-rich oily fish (salmon and mack­erel) helps to hy­drate the skin from the in­side out be­cause it at­tracts wa­ter into the cells and pre­vents dry­ness and red­ness.

Olives and olive oil, which are rich in mono-un­sat­u­rated oil, have also been shown to hy­drate and pre­vent UV dam­age, ac­cord­ing to a study pub­lished in The Lancet

Au­thor and skin ex­pert Kate O’Brien also be­lieves pas­sion­ately that diet is the cor­ner­stone of good skin — and health.

How­ever, she says it’s also very im­por­tant not to un­der­es­ti­mate the im­por­tance of us­ing sun­screen daily from April to Septem­ber — and to use enough of it.

In fact, she sur­prised her­self re­cently when she went to her der­ma­tol­o­gist to be told that she prob­a­bly wasn’t us­ing enough cream.

Many of us are aware of the need for sun­screen to pro­tect against the sun’s UVA rays, which cause pre­ma­ture age­ing, and against UVB rays, which can burn and dam­age skin year-round, but how much cream should we ap­ply?

Prob­a­bly a lot more than you think, says O’Brien.

The Ir­ish Cancer So­ci­ety’s SunS­mart code rec­om­mends that adults use 35mls of sun­screen to cover the whole body. That means us­ing a half a tea­spoon to cover each arm, the face, neck and ears and a full tea­spoon for each leg, the front and the back of the body.

And re­mem­ber to reap­ply ev­ery two hours.

In the mean­time, think about stock­ing up on some skin-nour­ish­ing foods. Here are some tips from Kate O’Brien’s book, Glow, (Gill Books, €19.99). Your skin tells a story — make it a good one! Ap­ple cider vine­gar: It’s packed with skin-loving nu­tri­ents, vi­ta­mins A, B2, B6, B7, C, E and K among them. You can start the day with a ta­ble­spoon of it in warm wa­ter, or put it in salad dress­ing.

Av­o­cado: Loaded with mo­noun­sat­u­rated fatty acids, av­o­ca­dos work to keep the skin moist and pro­tect it from UV dam­age.

Beet­root: Our skin can be­come a dump­ing ground for tox­ins that the body is un­able to elim­i­nate. Beet­root has long been used for its liver-cleans­ing and detox­i­fi­ca­tion ben­e­fits. It is also rich in vi­ta­mins and min­er­als that help the pro­duc­tion of col­la­gen.

Blue­ber­ries: Just a hand­ful of blue­ber­ries on their own or with break­fast will make your skin smile. They are over­flow­ing with an­tiox­i­dant-rich flavonoids and vi­ta­min C.

Choco­late (dark): Look for the low­sugar va­ri­ety with at least 75 per co­coa solids — which is packed full of flavonoids to help re­pair and pro­tect the skin.

Eggs: A nu­tri­tional pow­er­house that helps reg­u­late cell turnover in the skin while also keep­ing it soft and sup­ple.

Fer­mented food: Kom­bucha, sauer­kraut and ke­fir, sup­port a healthy gut, but they also en­hance skin elas­tic­ity by help­ing to keep it clear and fresh.

Nuts and seeds: Most nuts are ben­e­fi­cial for the skin, but wal­nuts and al­monds can claim su­pe­rior sta­tus.

Or­anges The cit­rus fruit is packed with vi­ta­min C which helps the body ab­sorb iron from food and is needed for the pro­duc­tion of col­la­gen.

Pic­ture: iStock

SKIN DEEP: Packed with vi­ta­min C, or­anges pro­mote the pro­duc­tion of col­la­gen.

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