Looking after your skin shouldn’t just be about slapping on the anti-wrinkle cream and staying out of the sun.
In fact, good skin care should start from within.
We asked Sophie Thurner, nutritionist at Regents Park Aesthetics on Harley Street, to answer your questions…
'Are there any miracle foods I can eat that will turn back the clock for my skin?'
Sadly, there’s nothing you can do to reverse the ageing process, but you can give your skin a helping hand by eating plenty of nutrient-rich foods.
‘A big cause of skin ageing is a loss of collagen, one of the skin’s main structural proteins.
'It’s thought to decline by 1% per year from your mid-twenties onwards,’ says Sophie.
‘Vitamin C is essential for collagen production, so increase the amount of colourful fruits and vegetables you eat.’
Get chomping on red peppers, berries, citrus fruit, leafy green veg, herbs, cruciferous veg and potatoes with their skin left on.
The worst thing you can eat is, surprise surprise, sugar.
‘Sugar has been shown to contribute to premature skin ageing,’ says Sophie.
‘It exacerbates natural processes that occur from our mid-thirties, damaging collagen and elastin and leading to reduced skin elasticity, textural changes, wrinkles and sagging.’
'My skin is dry and flaky. Should I be drinking more water, or is there anything I can eat to improve it?'
‘Keeping yourself well-hydrated is key for skin health, but unfortunately drinking more water does not equate to better-hydrated skin,’ says Sophie.
‘Nevertheless, in the short term, dehydration can leave skin looking pale, sallow and less plump, while chronic dehydration can lead to a disruption in skin barrier function and decreased elasticity.’
Aim to drink enough water or herbal tea to keep your urine a pale colour.
‘Drinking green tea could help too, as it contains catechins which have been found to improve skin hydration,’ says Sophie.
In terms of food, seeds and nuts could give your skin a real boost.
‘These contain antioxidant vitamin E and linoleic acid, a type of fat that can help with skin hydration,’ she adds.
'I’ve seen expensive collagen supplements in the shops. Do they work?'
‘There is little evidence that collagen will survive digestion and then travel in the bloodstream to the skin in high enough quantities to have any meaningful impact,’ say Sophie.
‘It’s broken down in the gut to smaller molecules such as peptides and amino-acids.’
Rather than taking collagen supplements, make sure you have enough protein in your diet.
As we age, the body needs less protein, but a woman of 70 should still eat 0.36g of protein per kg of bodyweight.
For a woman of 10 stone, this works out at just over 23g of protein a day – the equivalent of two eggs or a quarter of
a salmon of fillet.
'Are antioxidants in food important to skin?'
‘Antioxidants definitely play a role in healthy skin,’ explains Sophie.
‘As well as the main player vitamin C, there are a number of antioxidants that can contribute to good skin.’
● Vitamin E reduces free radical damage in skin cells which can cause wrinkles and uneven pigmentation. Try snacking on peanuts or hazelnuts, or make a spinach and avocado salad.
● Vitamin A is excellent for skin maintenance and repair. Good sources are eggs, hard cheeses, butter, dark green leafy veg and orange coloured fruit and vegetables.
● Lycopene can potentially help against sunburn and premature skin ageing and can be found in tomatoes, pink grapefruit and goji berries.
The top five foods for healthy skin…
1 – Eggs are excellent as they contain vitamin A, vitamin B2, vitamin B7 and iodine, all of which are key in skin maintenance.
2 – Shellfish is rich in iodine and zinc, which is important for skin healing. It also contains copper, which helps prevent skin appearing translucent and contributes to youthful skin pigmentation.
3 – Legumes such as lentils, chickpeas and beans, are good plant-based sources of copper for people who don’t eat shellfish.
4 – Dark leafy greens are an excellent source of collagen-aiding vitamin C and also skin-friendly vitamin A.
5 – Wholegrains provide B vitamins and zinc, which are crucial for healthy skin.
● Regents Park Aesthetics have launched a bespoke service called NutriSkin, with the aim of taking care of the skin and body from the inside out. The package includes a comprehensive 6 week nutrition assessment plan undertaken by Sophie Thurner, plus skin assessments and a personalised treatment plan. Regentsparkaesthetics.co.uk
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