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Healthy Skin Diet

Posted on: January 1st, 2017 by California Skin Institute

How is your current diet affecting your skin health? You’re probably familiar with the age-old saying “you are what you eat.” Unfortunately, too many people interpret this as being only applicable to their general health and don’t realize that what applies to the rest of the body is also true for their skin!* The truth is, a healthy skin diet is a great solution to many complexion issues.

After all, the skin is the largest organ in your body. It may look static, as if it doesn’t change much from one day to another, but zoom in with a microscope and you’ll see millions of cells working hard to protect your body against bacteria and pathogens.

Like it or not, your diet can play a direct role in keeping these cells healthy and helping you maintain a strong protective barrier.* So, are you eating the right types of food to keep your skin healthy?

Diet and Acne

It may be surprising to hear, but your diet can have a direct effect on your acne.* “For a long time, doctors would tell their patients there is no link,” says Dr. Goodlerner, a board-certified dermatologist at California Skin Institute – Torrance. “But recent studies suggest that foods that rapidly increase insulin may play a role in breakouts.”*

Such foods usually have a high glycemic index – these typically contain lots of sugar, starch, or carbohydrates without fiber and include things like*:

  • White bread*
  • Pasta*
  • White rice*

“Foods with a high glycemic index increase insulin and other hormones,” continues Dr. Goodlerner, “a process which increases oil production in the skin that can cause acne to flare up.”*

The key here is to realize that it’s not so much the food that’s causing the problem, but the body’s hormonal response.* For example, even skim milk may contribute to acne for the simple reason that it tends to have a higher concentration of hormones.* Therefore, avoiding low fat dairy products may also be helpful.*

Further new developments suggest an even greater link between diet and teenage acne.* For example, there are some hunter gatherer tribes that only eat nuts and berries, as well as animals they hunt.* In these types of societies acne is significantly less common, even among teenagers.*

Diet and Eczema

When it comes to Eczema, the link to diet is less clear cut, except when it applies to young children.* “Research has shown that food allergies play a role for children under 3 sometimes,” says Dr. Goodlerner. “So if a child shows symptoms of Eczema, it’s a good idea to get them tested for allergies so that you know how to change their diet.”*

With teenagers and adults this dietary link to Eczema isn’t as strong.* However, that doesn’t mean diet should be ignored completely.* One thing individuals can do is consume more foods containing chemicals that promote a healthier protective barrier.* A stronger skin barrier means the skin is less likely to react to external allergens.*

Foods high in omega fatty acid content can help.* These include walnuts, salmon, mackerel and flax seeds, among others.*

Diet and Psoriasis

Psoriasis can be a very frustrating condition that results in dry, patchy skin that is prone to flaking.* When helping her patients deal with Psoriasis, Dr. Goodlerner may suggest incorporating dietary changes for a more complete treatment plan.*

“What we know is that there is a link between Psoriasis and obesity. Studies show that patients with severe Psoriasis are also at higher risk of heart disease, mainly due to a higher body mass index.”* One piece of the puzzle in reducing Psoriasis symptoms is to follow a lifestyle that will promote healthy weight.* This includes exercising and eating more foods like:

  • Fish*
  • Fruits*
  • Vegetables*

Improving health through diet to get Psoriasis under control can also involve minimizing sugars and refined carbohydrates.*

However, science doesn’t yet have a concrete answer for why there is a link between Psoriasis and a poor diet.* “Some of the thinking is that eating a lot of sugar that can cause more inflammation in the body,” continues Dr. Goodlerner “and there is a link between inflammation and Psoriasis. So it’s a good idea to eat less foods that cause inflammation.”*

Skin Cancer and Diet

Diet can also play a role in skin cancer.* One of the things that has been found is that antioxidants help repair the skin.* However, instead of only applying them topically through creams and serums, it’s also vital to consume them in your diet, so that they can repair skin damage at deeper layers.*

Some of the more common antioxidants include vitamins C and E, carotenoids, and phytonutrients.* These can often be found in:

  • Fruits*
  • Vegetables*
  • Berries*

Additionally, omega fatty acids have been shown to help with certain types of cancers in animal studies.* These are abundant in some types of nuts and fish.*

Lastly, there also appears to be a link between Vitamin D and skin cancer.* Vitamin D is important in cell metabolism, and some studies suggest that vitamin D3 can help prevent UV damage to the skin, especially when it comes to basal cell skin cancers.*

Anti Aging Diet

When it comes to the best diet for anti aging, Dr. Goodlerner suggests following a diet that has overall positive effects on the body.* “Your skin is a reflection of your overall health. So the same things that help you stay healthy will also help your skin. This includes eating foods that are high in phytonutrients and antioxidants.”* These include:

  • Orange and yellow fruits and vegetables*
  • Berries (especially raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries)*
  • Green tea*

Omega fatty acids play a big role too.* So including nuts and fish in your diet can have anti aging benefits in the long term.*

Talk to a CSI Dermatologist

If you’d like to learn more about how diet can affect your skin health, set up an appointment with one of our dermatologists.* Call a California Skin Institute practice near you or use the online scheduling portal now!*

(Susan Goodlerner, M.D., is a board-certified dermatologist for California Skin Institute – Torrance located in Torrance, California. Dr. Goodlerner has been providing general dermatology, dermatologic surgery, laser surgery and cosmetic dermatology in the South Bay since 1984. In addition to helping her patients, Dr. Goodlerner serves as a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Harbor/UCLA Medical Center.)

*Individual results may vary and are not guaranteed.