How your diet affects common skin problems
Cleansers, toners, face masks and the like have their (ever so necessary) place in our skin care routines – but sometimes we need to take a more holistic approach and look at the problem from the inside. We talk to naturopath Claire Murray about how common skin problems such as blind pimples can actually be a reflection of our internal health, and just how much our diet and lifestyle affects our skin.
Your skin is one of the only ways (besides through the mouth or bowels) that your body can push out toxins or waste it can’t deal with. So common skin problems, like breakouts, dark circles or a dull, dehydrated complexion, are often an indication that there’s something going on inside your body. What we eat, what we drink, and how we live our lives can influence our skin.
#1 If you have oily, congested skin…
If your face is slicked in oil come lunch, or not a day goes by without at least one pimple, then take a look at what you’re putting into your body. Claire says, “Oily, congested skin is a sign that inflammation, a hormonal imbalance and nutritional deficiencies are potentially present.”
“Eat a plant-based diet rich in anti-inflammatory colourful fruits and vegetables, green leafy vegetables and good fats (such as nuts, seeds, avocado, coconut and seafood).” To support your hormonal balance and detoxification, Claire recommends, “eating plenty of clean protein sources (like nuts, seeds and organic meat) and liver-loving vegetables (such as broccoli, onion, garlic, cauliflower and leek). And last but not least, up your zinc and vitamin A intake! Colourful fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds and organic meats contain high levels of these vitamins and minerals, and will help soothe congested skin.
Try to avoid…
Dairy is known for playing a role in congested, acne-prone skin. But before you say goodbye to (sweet, delicious) cheese for good, just eliminate all dairy products from your diet for two weeks. This trial period will allow you to see whether it makes any difference to your skin. “Foods rich in simple sugars create inflammation and hormonal imbalances,” Claire adds. So keep lollies, chocolate, ice cream, soft drink and processed foods for special occasions.
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#2 If you have dull, dehydrated skin…
Dull skin can be a sign of the body being deficient in zinc, vitamin A, omega 3 or antioxidants, as well as the result of eating stress-inducing foods. “Anything that places stress on the body will then place stress on the skin,” says Claire. So while junk food is always desirable when we’re tired, hungry and under the pump, it places stress on the body as it digests, making it not the best solution for healthy, glowing skin. Claire also adds that inflammatory foods (aka junk food) “can have the overall effect of creating a dull and flat complexion”.
Swap fast food, sugary treats, wheat and dairy for nutrient-dense wholefoods. Claire understands that these inflammatory foods “can have the overall effect of creating a dull and flat complexion.” Opt for natural sweet treats like dried figs, dates and fresh fruit over pre-packaged, processed ones.
Also up your water and fat intake! “Dehydrated or dry skin is lacking sufficient water and/or fats to create a smooth, supple and hydrated complexion.
“Ensure you’re drinking 1.5L to 2L to water per day, avoid diuretics (such as caffeine and alcohol), but also combine this with plenty of healthy fats found in coconut, avocado, organic meats, seafood, nuts, seeds and chia seeds.”
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#3 Other common skin problems
If you have breakouts along the forehead and t-zone…
“In facial mapping, breakouts along the forehead and t-zone are linked to the liver – which can really have its work cut out for it having to detoxify the myriad of toxins and substances we are exposed to in today’s world.” Drink plenty of water and eat lots of protein and vegetables to ensure you’re doing the best you can.
If you have acne or congestion on the chin….
“Breakouts along the jaw and chin are often linked with hormonal imbalances.”
Problems in this area can also be traced back to poor digestive function, “which is largely impacted by what we choose to eat and drink, and has a great influence on hormonal elimination and balance,” says Claire.
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If you have dark circles…
The short answer? Get more sleep. “Dark circles under the eyes can be a reflection of sleep deprivation and prolonged stress that is taxing the body and adrenals.” A minimum of eight hours a night is recommended for a healthy mind and body, ladies.
If you have sensitive skin or red patches…
Red, sensitive or irritated sign can be a sign of inflammation and nutritional deficiencies. To combat this, ensure you’re eating a diet rich in protein, a wide variety of fruit and vegetables and lots of water.
Do you suffer from any of the above skin problems? What do you do to control them?