Karen Fischer is a nutritionist who specialises in skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, acne and premature ageing.
Her book, The Healthy Skin Diet, has specific programmes showing you how to get beautiful looking skin within eight weeks.
What does it mean to have healthy skin?
A healthy complexion is one of the best assets you can have. It’s not overly oily or tight and uncomfortably dry. Your skin tone is even, with minimal rosiness, and it complements every outfit you wear.
Skin problems can prevent people from fully enjoy their lives as they’re more likely to feel self conscious. Healthy skin can enhance self esteem and life enjoyment.
How does the function of the body effect the outward appearance of skin?
When water in a river flows freely, it looks clean and healthy. When water lacks a good filtration system, such as water left in a bucket, bacteria proliferates and debris builds up.
It is a similar story with your skin. A healthy complexion is a sign that your bloodstream is healthy and efficiently supplying oxygen and nutrients to your outer layer, and that your lymphatic system is adequately removing dead cells and other wastes.
What are the most common skin disorders seen in adults?
Age spots and skin inflammation called dermatitis is most common. We’re also seeing a surge in adults with acne.
And in babies?
In developed countries, more than one in ten children suffers from atopic eczema.
Are these caused by an unhealthy diet?
People can have a genetic predisposition to getting eczema. However, this means a healthy diet is even more essential for them because it can prevent their eczema from reoccurring.
It’s important that they avoid overly processed foods such as margarine, pastries and foods containing artificial additives, and dairy products need to be temporarily taken out of the diet.
In people who are prone to getting pimples, diets rich in sugar, saturated fats, high GI foods – think burger, fries, soft drink and ice-cream – cause the skin’s sebaceous glands to produce too much oil and this can lead to breakouts.
Stress can also cause random breakouts to occur. Age spots can be reduced if you have a diet rich in antioxidants such as selenium and vitamin E.
What are three foods (or food groups) that can transform the skin?
The top one is vegetables, especially dark leafy greens such as baby spinach, as they thin the blood and as I mentioned before, healthy blood transports oxygen and nutrients quickly to the body’s outermost layer – the skin – and gives your complexion a healthy glow.
You also need to moisturise your skin from the inside out with omega-3 rich foods like fish (and linseeds/flaxseeds if you’re vegetarian). And I love soy lecithin granules as they aid fat digestion and supply inositol for healthy skin cells.
What would you suggest to someone who was worried about premature ageing?
Become a hat person and wear sunscreen. Taking an omega-3 supplement also works wonders for dry and wrinkle-prone skin (however, before taking omega-3 consult a doctor if you are on any medications).
What is your daily mantra?
Look for beauty not faults. This is my mantra to reduce self criticism. Another mantra of mine is healthy food at home. So when I go out with friends, once or twice a week, I can indulge in unhealthy food if I feel like it. It prevents me from being Nancy-no-fun.
What do you eat or drink upon waking?
I have a glass of water with liquid chlorophyll (low strength) as it’s alkalising and keeps my food sensitivities at bay. Then I usually have my favourite beauty breakfast which is porridge with flaxseeds, lecithin granules, soy milk, honey and banana or frozen raspberries.
What is your favourite meal?
Baked salmon with my tasty antioxidant salad, plus frozen mango for dessert.
What is one ingredient you would hate to live without?
Rocket. I can’t believe I’m saying this as I used to hate salad, but now I crave it. I love a good rocket side salad with any (and every) savoury meal. It gives my skin a healthy glow.
Does what you put inside your body have more effect than what you put on your skin, such as lotions, creams etc?
Yes, definitely! Don’t get me wrong, I love a good quality skin cream that contains no harsh ingredients, as moisturiser can make the skin feel extra soft, however, a healthy diet does so much more.
It gives you energy and creates a strong body from the inside out. You don’t need to be born with the “good’ skin gene: beautiful skin can be created with a healthy diet and that’s good news for the rest of us.