How diet affects skin health, by Dr Samira Yousefi

Posted on February 01, 2016

Diet plays an important role in skin health, for people with both healthy and problematic skin. However, it’s not only what we eat that’s important. Other factors such as sun exposure, stress and environment play a significant role in our skin health. Although there isn’t one quick fix to transform your skin, there are certain foods that you can choose to help improve your skin.

A diet high in sugary foods not only will pile on pounds but it can also accelerate skin ageing process. When there is too much sugar in the blood stream, from any source, protein molecules can cross-link with sugar molecules and produce advanced glycation end products (AGEs). This process called glycation and result in inflammation, wrinkles, loss of elasticity, accelerated ageing and compromised barrier function. Protect the skin from the damaging effects of AGEs by cutting down on foods high in refine sugar.  Many people don’t realise that sugar can be found in savoury food such as sauces and ready meals or even in so-called “health foods”. Always check the label! Check for sugars that are disguised under other names like high fructose corn syrup, rice syrup, Maple syrup, honey, concentrated fruit juice, barley malt or maltose.

A diet high in antioxidants will help to inhibit AGEs production, protect skin cells against free radicals and reduce the inflammation. Some of the best antioxidants include Vitamins A, C and E and Carotenoids, flavonoids and polyphenols .

Good sources of vitamin A include liver, oily fish, egg, cheese, milk and yoghurt. Adding beta-carotene to your diet can also contribute to your vitamin A intake as this can be converted into vitamin A by the body. The primary food sources of beta-carotene are:

green leafy vegetables, carrots, sweet potatoes and red peppers

yellow fruit such as mango, papaya and apricots

Vit C rich foods like citrus fruits, kiwi, strawberries and papaya help in wound healing and collagen production.

Avocado, dark green leafy vegetables, walnuts, almonds and pecans are the best sources of Vit E.

Omega-3 fatty acids, found in oily fish like salmon, trout and mackerel promote smooth and youthful skin. Also due to their anti-inflammatory effect, Omega- 3 fatty acids are beneficial in inflammatory skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, acne and rosacea. Flaxseed, chia and walnuts are the vegetarian sources of omega-3s.

Protein is essential for the production of collagen and skin repair and renewal.  Good quality protein sources are grass-fed meat, organic chicken and eggs, fish, nuts and seeds, legumes and organic dairy products.”

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How diet affects skin health, by Dr Samira Yousefi