MiNDFOOD speaks to Geraldine Georgeou, Dietitian and author of The Australian Healthy Skin Diet about the important relationship between diet and skin.
What is your background?
I’m an Accredited Practising Dietitian with more than 20 years’ experience using nutrition to treat hormone conditions and underlying metabolic issues including insulin resistance, inflammation and gut health.
I work with other medical professionals like dermatologists and endocrinologists to treat skin conditions and metabolic disorders like diabetes.
Tell us about your new book?
The Australian Healthy Skin Diet is a practical handbook highlighting the evidence-based science behind the ways in which food chemicals – along with macro- and micro-nutrients – have an impact on our skin.
It provides nutritional advice for optimising skin health and helping treat conditions from acne, psoriasis, dermatitis, rosacea, eczema and rashes, or polycystic ovary syndrome, or simply searching to improve the health and look of your skin.
My book also explains how probiotics and prebiotics – along with low GI eating, protein with each meal, healthy carbs and monounsaturated fats – allow us to improve our gut-skin axis and keep our hormones in check.
What inspired you to write the guide?
Through my work, I’ve helped many people with skin conditions like acne, psoriasis, dermatitis and rosacea who had no idea of the power of nutrition to treat underlying insulin resistance and improve gut health to support skin health.
Few knew about the gut-skin axis, and the microbes that live on our body’s largest organ – all 1.8 square metres of it – are connected to our gut microbiome.
Unlocking healthy healing for our skin, particularly when it comes to conditions like acne, psoriasis, dermatitis, rosacea and even premature ageing is intimately connected to what – and how often – we eat.
Can you heal your skin by adjusting your diet? What’s a recent example of someone who has achieved this?
Acne is a debilitating condition and can affect you at various stages of your life time. I had a lovely 16 year old girl suffering from “teenager acne” which was affecting her confidence, her weight was fluctuating and she suffered from mood swings and tiredness.
Unknowingly she had an underlying health condition known as insulin resistance which was also triggering the hormones responsible for pimples and acne.
Identifying this condition, working with her medical team (Dermatologist, Endocrinologist) and consuming a low glycaemic index carbohydrate eating plan with balanced lean protein and good fats and in particular improving her snacks improved her energy, she felt better and happier about herself, but also promoted clearer, healthier looking skin.
What’s a common mistake people make when it comes to skin health?
Cutting out healthy carbs, such as wholegrain bread and cereals, is a common practice yet starves your microbiome from healthy fibres to promote good gut health.
I focus a lot on adding back good quality carbs in people’s diets to reprogram their microbiome – eating more prebiotics fibres from legumes, wholegrain breads and cereals, fruits and vegetables & probiotics from fermented products like kefir and yogurt.
What’s one piece of advice (other than drinking water and eating leafy greens) that you can share for improving skin health?
Balance is key – there’s not one miracle food, drink or supplement.
Think Mediterranean Diet – eating more wholegrains, plant-based proteins like legumes, nuts and seed for your “Gut health” along with healthy fats like Extra Virgin Olive Oil, are part of the nutrition prescription to ease inflammatory and allergic skin conditions.
Plus looking after your gut microbiome reduces inflammation supports the proliferation of good bacteria, is antimicrobial and supports the immune system and can have beneficial effects on psoriasis.