A restrictive diet can affect your skin. Find out how and what you can do about it.

Dr A. Bolin

If you’re following a pescatarian, vegetarian, vegan, or paleo diet you may not be getting all the nutrients you need for anti-aging and skin health. Dr A. Bolin explains why and what you can do about it.

Many diets may claim to improve diets your health and or help you drop unwanted pounds, but it’s important to remember that cutting out certain food group can have an impact on your skin. Beauty comes from within and having a good skin care regimen is equally important as what you eat and drink.

Can a certain diet make my skin age faster?

Yes, it can.  Let’s face it, lifestyle affects your skin.  Without appropriate balance in your diet, your epidermis and dermis (superficial and deeper layers of skin) may age faster.   Excess processed foods, UV light damage, stress, lack of sleep, smoking, excess alcohol and caffeine, etc. can lead to unhealthy changes in your skin as well as a decreased ability to rejuvenate and regenerate.  Most people know that if they don’t drink enough water, their skin becomes dehydrated.  Likewise, without enough nutrients and elements, your skin can become lackluster.

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Evidence suggests that plant-based proteins are not as effective as animal-based proteins in building up and strengthening the body (anabolic effect). Plant-based proteins do not contain all the essential amino acids that animal-based proteins have.

What does my skin need to be healthy?

Your skin needs a number of vitamins, minerals and elements to help repair the effects of pollution, bacteria, sebum (oil), makeup, UV damage and alcohol and smoking.

Antioxidants, collagen, elastin, hyaluronic acid (helps keep skin hydrated and plump).

Vitamins – especially A, C and E  (remember ACE) and omega 3 and 6 fatty acids all help with this process.

Amino acids (proteins) such as proline, glycine, hydroxyproline and arginine are essential for collagen production. Collagen is the scaffolding, which along with elastin, gives our skin it’s supple smoothness.

Where to find Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids?

Omega rich fatty acids help with hydration and have anti-inflammatory properties.  Fatty acids are necessary to decrease transepidermal water loss (keeping your skin nicely hydrated and plump). Seafood and nuts are a great source of these fatty acids.

Add scallops, snapper, sardines, herring, mackerel, salmon, tuna, chia seeds, flaxseed, walnuts, almonds, macadamia nuts, pistachios, pecans to your diet.

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What about Vitamins?

Vitamins A, C and E are antioxidants which help prevent the damaging effect of free radicals.

Collagen boosting vitamin C is found in tomatoes (lycopenes) and other in red fruits and vegetables it helps to prevent DNA damage in cells from sun damage and pollutants helps the cells function better.

Vitamin C is in bell peppers, strawberries, kale, broccoli, brussel sprouts, apples, oranges, lemons, cherries, beets, red potatoes, guavas, pink grapefruit, papayas.

Vitamns A & E are found in almond butter, swiss chard, wheat germ, pumpkin, butternut squash, mangoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, cantaloupe (rock melon).

Vitamin B3 (niacin/niacinamide) has an anti-inflammatory effect so it’s good for helping get rid of acne. Vitamin B3 comes from tuna, chicken, turkey, liver, mushrooms, kale, beans, broccoli, peanuts and cereals.

Less sagging skin?  Think Selenium.

Selenium (another antioxidant) promotes elasticity of skin and also has an antioxidant effect, helping to neutralize toxins.

It’s found in Brazil nuts, tuna, halibut, salmon, garlic, beef, poultry, spinach, wheat germ, eggs, brown rice and whole-wheat bread

Healing

Zinc is also useful for boosting the immune system and healing wounds. It’s used in creams and shampoos, and is found in lentils, black-eyed peas, shrimp, clams, mussels, crab,  oysters, lobster, beef, lamb crab, wheat germ, chicken, pumpkin seeds, yogurt, cashews, peanuts, flax and sunflower seeds.

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What are flavonoids?

They help reduce glycation (sugar damage) to skin cells. They are from polyphenols from plants and are found in dark chocolate, red wine, cranberry juice and apples. These contain procyanidin helping to protect skin from damage.  Super fruits such as goji berries, acai, blueberries, raspberries contain another form, rutinosides, which help reduce sun damage and inflammation to skin.  Green salads and vegetables have a protective effect as well.

What diet should I choose?  

Whether it be for weight control, religious beliefs, lifestyle choice or culture there are so many diets to choose from.  The essential point is that a balanced diet with recommended nutrients, minerals and elements is matched to your preferences.

If you are trying a diet that excludes certain food groups such as meats or fruit and vegetables, make sure you supplement by eating from as wide a variety if foods as you can. So if you don’t eat meat, make sure you get protein from other sources such as nuts and pulses like lentils, chickpeas and peas. Tofu and tempeh are good sources too.

How can I tell if my diet has all the necessary elements to promote healthy skin?

If you are not sure, it is important to speak with a qualified nutritionist or dietician in order to ensure you are getting a balanced diet.

Where can I find more information?

The British Dietetic Association (BDA) has given some of the best evidence-based recommendations on the following diets: 5:2, Paleo, New Atkins, Alkaline, Cambridge, South Beach, Slimming World, Slim-Fast, LighterLife, WeightWatchers, and Rosemary Conley. http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/loseweight/Pages/top-10-most-popular-diets-review.aspx 

For more information speak with your GP, healthcare provider, dietician or go online to The Association of UK Dietitians

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