While there might be a lucky few that are genetically blessed with flawless skin regardless of diet, nutritionist and owner of Feel Fresh Nutrition, Abbie O’Rourke, believes the majority of us can’t have good skin with a poor diet. “You really can tell someone’s overall health through their skin,” she says. “If you’re not eating the right food you might have blotchy, dry skin, a bit of acne, maybe deeper wrinkles and dark circles under the eyes,” she explains, adding that for our body to perform the way we need it to, we need to fuel it correctly. “In terms of cellular repair and fighting inflammation, we need the right nutrients. When people are eating processed food, it’s noticeable on their skin.”
As to what we should be eating to keep our skin in optimal condition, O’Rourke admits that nutrition has become confusing in recent years. “There’s so much misinformation out there, and the problem is that people are cherrypicking,” she says. “For example: carbohydrates are good, raw is good, veganism is good. Bang it all together and it’s an incredibly high-energy way of eating.”
Interestingly, dietary fat has received an unwarranted bad reputation. “People haven’t wanted to eat dietary fat because of weight loss,” says O’Rourke. “But you need healthy dietary fats so you can absorb essential fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins A, D, E and K, which are all important for overall health and skin health.” Avocado, salmon and nuts are all good sources of heathy dietary fats.
O’Rourke says what’s more important and apparent is what we don’t eat. “It’s what you don’t put into your body; if you don’t have alcohol and processed foods with added sugar,” she believes. Founder of The Beauty Chef Carla Oates agrees, saying that sugar is one of our skin’s worst enemies. “Sugar encourages glycation – it sticks to collagen and breaks it down, leading to collagen degradation.”
Cutting processed foods out of your diet is one of the easiest and best moves you can make for your skin, and O’Rourke says it can take as little as two to four weeks to see a difference. Unless there’s a hormonal element involved, it is definitely possible to improve skincare concerns. “We can usually calm things down through diet, hydration, sleep and maybe some fish oils. Skin really glows. It’s just so apparent that the two are linked,” O’Rourke explains.