Healthy Skin: You Are What You Eat

We’ve all heard it before: “You are what you eat!”    And when it comes to your skin, what you eat can have a big impact on how your skin behaves.  Your skin is your largest organ, and can act as an indicator of your overall health.

The team at Body Cafe recently had the pleasure of meetingClaire-book-cover and listening to NZ nutrition expert Claire Turnbull.

Claire is owner/director of Mission Nutrition, author of some excellent books, and has regularly featured on TV, radio & newspapers. We could tell from her energy and enthusiasm that she practices what she preaches, and it clearly works!

Claire had some great advice on things to add or avoid in your diet (more on that later) to not only have great skin, but also to have great health & vitality, & to “Feel Good for life”



We’ve also recently introduced a new Anti-Ageing Dietary Supplement called Glo by NutraMed.

Glo contains Deer Velvet (a source of collagen, hexosamine, and chondroitin sulphate), Hyaluronic Acid, Vitamin C and Siberian Ginseng.

NZ Deer Velvet is well known for joint health benefits and alleviating arthritis, but is also very beneficial for hair, skin, and nail health.


Foods that are GOOD for your skin!foods-for-good-skin

  • Water! – This one may seem obvious, but not drinking enough water can lead to dehydration, and dehydration makes your skin look more dry and wrinkled.
  • Salmon, Walnuts, Canola Oil, Avocados, and Flax Seed – Essential fatty acids (Omegas 3, 6 and 9) are responsible for healthy cell membranes, which is not only what act as barriers to harmful things but also as the passageway for nutrients. They are also powerful anti-inflammatories and calm the digestive tract, making them particularly effective in treating conditions like eczema and acne. And because it is the cell membrane that also holds water in, the stronger that barrier is the better your cells can hold moisture, and that means plumper, younger looking skin :)
  • Remember your ABCs – Eating foods rich in Vitamins A, B & C has countless benefits for the skin. Here’s why:
    Vitamin A – helps skin grow (carrots, dark leafy greens, dried apricots, tuna)
    Vitamin B – helps skin glow (poultry, fish, whole cereals, eggs, vegetables)
    Vitamin C – produces collagen (citrus fruits, berries, broccoli, dark leafy greens)
  • Iron – Iron helps even out skintone. Iron is used to create hemoglobin to carry O2 to your skin. Healthy levels of hemoglobin mean more oxygen and rosy looking skin. As well as red meat, iron can be found in foods such as apricots, almonds, broccoli and spinach.
  • Selenium – as Claire pointed out to us, New Zealand soils are deficient in selenium. Selenium is an antioxidant mineral that helps protect the skin from sun damage; it also helps the skin maintain firmness and elasticity. Brazil nuts are perhaps the best source, and eating just 3-4 Brazil nuts per day provides adequate selenium intake for most people.

Foods that are BAD for your skin!clear_skin_1

  • Excess Sugar – sugar damages your collagen and elastin, and weakens your immune system, and when our immune systems are suppressed, our bodies aren’t as effective at fighting off bacteria – a leading cause of acne and other inflammatory skin conditions.
  • Excess Caffeine – Coffee is a diuretic and can dehydrate the body and skin. The better hydrated the body, the healthier the skin appears. Studies have shown that 2-3 cups of caffeinated beverages stimulate pituitary-adrenocortical response, which leads to increased cortisol levels in our bodies. Excess cortisol (also known as the stress hormone) has been proven to accelerate the aging process and damage our skin, including thinning the skin. The thinner your skin, the more prone it is to fine lines, wrinkles, dehydration and a lacklustre appearance.
  • Excessive Salt – Sodium, usually known as “salt,” is a vital nutrient that the body needs to function properly. However, eating too much sodium can lead to many unwanted side effects, including puffiness around the face and eyes. Too much salt can cause water retention, and because the skin around the eyes is so thin it swells easily, which might leave you cursing last nights popcorn when you catch your reflection the next morning!
  • Gluten-Heavy Grains – Gluten is a protein in wheat and other grains that are very common. Yet studies have shown that up to 40% of adults have some form of gluten or wheat sensitivity or intolerance. When we have inflammation in our bodies, it often shows up in our skin. Some foods that should be avoided include pasta, breads, crackers, pastries, cakes, oats, pizza, beer, barley, rye and spelt.
  • Dairy – while moderate dairy intake can be beneficial for Vitamin A & calcium, many people have reactions to it. Dairy consumption has been linked to acne, and excess estrogen, often found in dairy products, can cause a cascade of health issues. Dairy is also known to be mucus-forming in our bodies, which contributes to inflammation. Many people also suffer from lactose intolerance causing bloating and pain.
  • Processed foods – Processed foods are generally those that are produced using manufacturing methods that change raw ingredients into something inside a neat little package with a longer shelf life. These may include a number of artificial ingredients such as hydrogenated oil, artificial sweeteners, flavours, preservatives, monosodium glutamate (MSG) and food dyes. These ingredients are often found in packaged cookies, crackers, baked treats and many fast foods. If you experience frequent acne breakouts or other skin problems you should definitely try eliminating these things from your diet.


This is not a complete list of foods that are good or bad for your skin and general health, but it gives you an idea.

It’s mostly common sense, with the “Rule of Thumb” basically being: eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and unprocessed foods, and less of anything packaged, processed, full of additives, or containing excess sugar or salt. Moderation is the key with most things, as even vitamins can be bad for you in high doses. And the best thing to drink is water!

And lastly, a very quick mention of other non-diet related factors affecting your skin and general health, the big ones being: exercise, get plenty of sleep, don’t smoke! and avoid too much sun exposure and use sunscreen.

If you have any skin concerns you would like to discuss, please come in for a consultation with any of our expert therapists.

Happy healthier living everyone!