Natural skin solutions

Skin problems such as acne, eczema and psoriasis can be helped by filling your body with the right nutrition. Our experts put forward their favourite skin saviours

Supergreens

“The supergreens spirulina and chlorella are fantastic system cleansers,” says Rick Hay, anti-ageing food and fitness nutritionist (www.rickhay.co.uk). “They help to promote healthy digestion and also help to alkalise the system. This is important for skin health as if your digestive function is not up to speed then you will not absorb all of the nutrients that you need optimally. The alkalising properties of these greens means that they help to reduce inflammation – both internally and externally on the skin. They also promote healthy liver function; if your liver is functioning well then there will be no need for the liver to use the skin as a partner in the elimination of toxins. Often poor skin health can be traced back to a stressed-out liver! When we improve liver and digestive function we can often see an improvement in skin health.”

Bananas

“Bananas are great food for eczema sufferers,” says Claudia Talsma, general manager sales and marketing UK for Salcura (www.salcuraskincare.com). “They are high in potassium, which keeps the skin cells hydrated and moisturised. They also contain histamine-lowering nutrients that greatly aid those who suffer with allergies. Magnesium is also present in bananas and has been shown in some studies to reduce the oiliness on the surface of the skin. Finally, they also contain vitamin C, which is commonly thought to be anti-ageing and able to improve general skin health.”

Green leafy vegetables

“Your mother was right – green leafy vegetables are the cure-all,” says skincare expert Jennifer Young (www.beautydespitecancer.co.uk). “Vegetables such as kale and spinach are packed with nutrients, many of which are wonderful for skin health. Both are high in skin vitamins A and C. One cup of raw kale provides a whopping 206 per cent of our Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of vitamin A and 134 per cent of our vitamin C RDA. Both vitamins promote skin health. Green leafy vegetables are high in minerals too – another group of nutrients to help our skin glow.”

Brazil nuts

“Brazil nuts are rich in selenium, which is a powerful antioxidant,” says Hilery Dorrian, homeopath and co-founder of SkinGenius (www.skin-genius.co.uk). “Antioxidants are known to raise immunity but they may also help the skin in a number of ways. Recent studies show that selenium can protect against sun damage, age spots and even skin cancer. Just a handful of brazil nuts will see you meet the daily recommended amount of selenium. These wonderful nuts also contain zinc, which is essential for skin health as it promotes healing in the skin and can help clear acne and pimples by calming inflammation and restricting oil production. Like most nuts, they also contain essential fatty acids which help combat inflammation in the skin and boost the surface moisture content.”

Beetroot

“Beetroot juice or powder can help to promote a glowing complexion,” says Rick. “Beetroot juice has long been used as a component of a healthy detox as this superfood is a vasodilator, is rich in iron and helps to keep circulation going and improve blood flow to the cells. The brightly coloured red pigments are wonderful immune boosters too. If you have a healthy immune system then other systems feel less pressure too. Good immunity helps fight off skin problems. I love anything that stains the fingers or hands red, purple or blue so you could add blueberries, raspberries and blackberries to a smoothie together with the beetroot to really get the best results. Think colourful foods like beetroot, eat as close to nature as you can most of the time and your skin should start to glow!”

Good fats

“Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are the ‘good fats’ that our body needs for regulating cell function,” explains Marianna Sulic, a nutritionist with Savant (www.savant-health.com). “They maintain the integrity of cell walls and the function of cell membranes – this function plays an important part in skin health. Youthful skin is full of plump, water-filled cells and the skin’s ability to hold water decreases with age. Essential fatty acids form a water barrier around skin cells preventing moisture loss, therefore hydrating your skin from the inside out leaving your skin feeling and looking soft, supple and smooth. A lack or imbalance of EFAs can lead to dryness, redness, acne, eczema and psoriasis-like inflammatory skin conditions. The ideal consumption of the essential fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6 is a 2:1 ratio. The recommended intake is from 20g undamaged omega-3 (alpha linolenic acid) and 9g undamaged omega-6 (linoleic acid) on a daily basis.”

Chia seeds

“Chia seeds might not be the obvious choice for skin health but their high fibre content means that they are very effective in assisting the body with detoxification,” says Jennifer. “Toxins can be excreted through the skin if they cannot be excreted via normal bodily functions. These nutritious seeds are also a source of protein and fats. Protein is a building block of the skin. It is needed for renewal and rejuvenation. Their high fat content is yet another reason chia seeds are a skin saviour.”

Skin health smoothie recipe

That old saying ‘beauty starts within’ is true when it comes to the health of your skin. This smoothie is great for conditions such as eczema and psoriasis or just for a simple healthy glow.

You will need:

  • 1 kiwi fruit, peeled
  • ¼ of an avocado
  • 2 inch piece of cucumber
  • Handful of spinach
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 1 tsp of ground flaxseeds
  • Contents of 1 capsule of probiotics
  • 2 cups of water

Put all ingredients into a high speed blender and whizz until smooth.

Nutritionist Sally Wisbey says: "This smoothie is bursting with ingredients to give your skin the nutrition it needs. It’s rich in healthy fats, antioxidants and specific nutrients to help prevent and treat conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and acne. Avocados and flaxseeds are a great source of essential fatty acids which help maintain moisture and keep the skin soft and supple. Kiwi fruits and lemons are rich in vitamin C, required for the production of collagen, which helps tone and firm the skin, whilst celery and cucumber are extremely hydrating for your skin. Probiotics have been shown to play an important role in skin health. They help strengthen our immunity, helping to promote the healing of scars so can often improve conditions such as acne. Adding the contents of a probiotic capsule into your daily smoothie can be a great addition to your skin care routine.”

To find out more about Sally, visit www.sallywisbeynutrition.co.uk or follow her on Twitter: @wizznutrition

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