Skin deep: Eat to feed your face

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.

Skin deep: Eat to feed your face

By 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 low-sugar 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.

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