9 Ways To Improve Your Skin Through Your Diet
9 Ways To Improve Your Skin Through Your Diet

9 Ways To Improve Your Skin Through Your Diet

As the UK’s first dual-qualified dermatologist and nutritionist, Dr Thivi Maruthappu understands that what you eat often shows up in the health of your skin, hair and nails. From the importance of pairing fat with vitamin D to why you should never cut carbs, here are her tips…
By Tor West

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The Three Macros All Play A Part

“Skincare is important, but it’s our diet that’s essential to skin health. We need a balance of macronutrients – carbs, protein and fats – as well as micronutrients (i.e. vitamins and minerals). When we lack certain nutrients, one of the first places you’ll see it is your skin. If you’re not eating enough healthy fats, you’ll soon experience dry, flaky skin and brittle hair, while low iron levels cause itchy, dry skin and hair loss. Cutting out entire food groups isn’t a good idea. Ditching carbs means excluding most fruits, legumes and wholegrains, foods that contain some of the highest levels of vitamins, minerals and fibre. A ketogenic diet, meanwhile, can cause an itchy rash known as ‘keto rash’, which is a direct result of skipping carbs, which causes the skin to become inflamed. Above all, studies have shown low-carb diets are no more effective than low-calorie diets when it comes to weight loss, so you’re putting your body under unnecessary strain for minimal reward.”


Too Much Sugar Ages The Skin

“Sugar triggers a process in the skin that quite literally breaks down collagen, causing it to stiffen and leading to the early signs of ageing. In a nutshell, a diet high in refined sugar will age you. At the same time, a high-GI diet can also cause acne flare-ups – this is because high-GI foods can cause surges in hormones, which worsen breakouts. Cutting back on refined sugar is essential for better skin, but so too is keeping your blood sugar balanced. The best way to do this is to combine protein, carbs and healthy fats at every meal. You’ll feel brighter and have more energy, too.”


Supplements Shouldn’t Be Relied On

“If you have a balanced diet, you need far fewer supplements than you think. Nutrition starts with what’s on your plate – supplements should only be used if you really need them. A good example is biotin supplements, which are often found as costly hair supplements. Although a biotin deficiency can cause hair loss, weak nails and dry skin, it’s so commonly found in food that developing a deficiency is incredibly rare. There isn’t enough evidence to justify the high doses of biotin that’s sold in hair supplements. Taking high doses of biotin can have other unwanted side effects, like acne and breakouts. Instead, focus on eating more biotin-rich foods – egg yolks, legumes, sweet potatoes, nuts and seeds.”


A Vitamin D Deficiency Can Manifest On The Skin

“Vitamin D is often associated with healthy bones, but it also supports normal hair growth and development. Without decent levels of vitamin D, conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, acne, warts and hair loss can be potentially aggravated. In the summer, you should be able to meet your daily vitamin D needs with just 15 minutes of sun exposure per day over the face, arms and legs, but you’ll need to supplement in the winter. How you take your vitamin D also matters, as it requires fat to be properly absorbed. One study found taking vitamin D with dinner – typically the biggest meal of the day – can improve absorption by up to 50%.”


Two Salmon Fillets A Week Is A Good Goal

“If you’re looking for a simple way to boost glow, eat more omegas. Optimising your intake of omega-3 is one of the most important nutritional changes you can make to support supple, healthy skin. However, the body can’t produce omega-3 on its own, so you need to ensure your daily diet includes foods that are naturally rich in these fats – think of it as moisturising from within. One or two salmon fillets a week will help you reach your omega goals.” 


The Gut Is An Important Player In Skin Health

“An imbalanced gut microbiome can lead to poor skin. If your gut isn’t working as it should be, then not only will it struggle to absorb nutrients, it’ll also lead to a build-up of toxins in the body, which can lead to breakouts. In fact, research suggests over half of all people with acne also experience imbalances in their gut microbiome. The same goes for rosacea, which was one of the first skin conditions linked to gut health. Research shows patients who suffer from rosacea also have an increased risk of experiencing indigestion, heartburn, nausea and bloating. For better gut health, eat 30 different plant foods every week, include prebiotic and probiotic foods, and eat more fermented foods like kefir and kimchi. Probiotics aren’t the best way to improve your microbiome – what you eat has far more impact.”


Low Iron Is A Common Cause Of Dry Skin

“Iron is vital for hair health. I am almost obsessive about checking iron levels in my clinic, because many women aren’t aware that they’re suffering from low iron levels and experience dry, itchy skin and hair loss. The symptoms can be subtle and progress slowly over many months or even years. In a study of premenopausal women, the single most common cause of hair loss was anaemia resulting from low iron levels. The best sources of iron are red meat, poultry and seafood. Plant sources – such as beans, dark green leafy vegetables and dried fruit like raisins and apricots – are more difficult for the body to absorb. Pair iron-rich foods with vitamin C to maximise how much you absorb – studies show doing this can enable you to absorb up to four times more iron.”


Vitamin C Is A Shortcut To Collagen

“As well as being a powerhouse antioxidant, vitamin C promotes collagen production and is key for maintaining plump skin. If you suffer from acne scarring, or you’re thinking about having a cosmetic procedure such as laser or a chemical peel, try to incorporate more vitamin C-rich foods into your diet. The body can’t make vitamin C, so you need to get plenty of it daily. The richest sources are fresh fruits, especially citrus fruits, and vegetables like red peppers.”


‘Eat to GLOW’

“My GLOW acronym stands for greens (fruits and vegetables), lean proteins, oils and healthy fats, and wholegrains – these are the key components to a skin-loving diet. It’s an anti-inflammatory way of eating – remember inflammation lies at the heart of every skin concern, from eczema to premature skin ageing. At every meal, around half your plate should be made up with fresh fruit and vegetables, with some prebiotic and probiotic foods and spices, and then equal amounts of wholegrains and lean protein. Don’t skimp on healthy fats, either. Looking for inspiration? Think roasted vegetables cooked in olive oil with hummus and feta in a wholegrain wrap; eggs and avocado on wholegrain toast topped with seeds; or live yoghurt with fresh fruit and seedy, wholegrain granola.”

Skin Food by Dr Thivi Maruthappu is available now. Follow @DrThiviMaru on Instagram

DISCLAIMER: Features published by SheerLuxe are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek the advice of your GP or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programme.

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