As a girl who has almost always suffered with and battled against acne and bad skin, I know the frustrations of when ‘nothing seems to work’. So much so that I have, multiple times including currently, had to resort to antibiotics just to get my skin under control. Many a times I have declared it cruelly unfair that I, who keeps a reasonably clean diet, must suffer with such terrible skin, but I still truly believe that beautiful skin comes from the inside out.
The inspiration to write this post came in the form of a lovely little message from a reader, who herself struggles with bad skin and acne and has for some time. When reading her message I felt a great connection, as our stories and struggles are quite similar and what she said really resonated with how I feel and have felt in the past.
As a result of my skin I have read tens if not hundreds of articles on the topic of foods and habits for good skin, so I thought I would take the time to share what I know and told my reader with you. Whether you, like me, are plagued with bad skin or whether you have always had clear skin, eating a skin beauty foods is good for everyone!
Let’s begin with arguably the biggest culprit – sugar. Over consumption of sugar is definitely a no-no for skin, it causes your blood sugar to spike and spike which leads to acne, not to mention insulin resistance and eventually Type 2 diabetes. For this reason it is a good idea to remove very obvious sources of sugar and really refined carbohydrates, such as white bread, pasta, cakes, biscuits, muffins, any soft drinks or alcohol, lollies and even check your breakfast cereal (if you have one), because they can be laden with sugar! And don’t be fooled by “health” foods, most gluten-free processed foods (that you buy in the supermarket) are very unhealthy and packed full of refined rice, potato and corn starches which will spike your blood sugar just as much as actual sugar. Fruit juice and dried fruits are also problematic, as they concentrated sugar and once again will cause blood sugar spikes.
For optimal skin health you should aim to stabilise your blood sugar as much as possible and eat a clean, green diet, removing any toxins that could be causing your skin breakouts. For breakfast eggs cooked in coconut oil or organic butter, with some avocado, spinach, parsley or whatever you like are fantastic. This is a great protein rich breakfast full of good fats that improves skin health. For lunch try a nice dense salad with lots of dark leafy greens such as kale, spinach etc and some protein, so chicken, lamb, turkey, chickpeas etc as well as whatever veggies you like. I love to add roasted sweet potato, pumpkin and beetroot to my salads to for some variety, otherwise it just feels like you are eating green everything! Dinner should again be lean protein, so chicken, fish, lamb, beef or whatever you like, with lots of veggies. If you want grains at any point, think along the lines of brown rice, quinoa and amaranth, but try not to eat too much white rice or potatoes, as they too spike blood sugar and will lead to breakouts.
Foods that improve skin are all green leafy vegetables, olive oil, coconut oil (you can even rub this on as moisturiser or try an oil cleanser), avocado, almonds (or any nuts), berries, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, as well as superfoods such as spirulina, raw cacao, chia seeds, coconut oil, bee pollen. Fermented foods are also vital for good skin, as they add good ‘bugs’ to your gut and good gut health = good skin! Fermented foods include natural, organic yogurt (if you can tolerate it), sauerkraut, kombuncha, kefir (you can even make your own kefir) or take a probiotic daily. Green juices and smoothies are also AMAZING for your skin. With juices, try to stick to mostly vegetables, as fruit juice (even fresh and organic) is concentrated sugar. Also, drink plenty of fresh water to flush out your body and stay hydrated, which is key to good skin.
Just remember that everything is a slow process of learning what is right for your body and that may be different to mine. As you are on antibiotics like me, it is a great idea to eat lots of probiotic foods and get a strong probiotic to take every day. Exercise is also great for your skin, so keep on walking, running or whatever you like to do (for me it’s definitely yoga).
Stress can also trigger acne, so if you are overly stressed I would take some time to find ways to reduce that stress, whether that be getting more sleep, meditating, doing yoga, taking a bath, walking or whatever you like.
Now, a final word from me. My skin is certainly not perfect, but I have vowed to continue nourishing my body to the best of my ability because I know that eventually I will be able to have the golden, clear, glowing skin that I dream of. No matter how frustrated you get or how many mistakes you make, don’t ever give up on yourself, because you are more than worthy of having beautiful skin. Regardless, you are beautiful, no matter how much your skin distresses you. Practice saying affirmations in the mirror and learn to love yourself, that will help a lot too.
What are your top skin nourishing foods?