Skin Nutrition 101

Skin Nutrition 101

Jun 22, 2023Nicole Saliba

When it comes to healthy skin we tend to focus a lot on what we put onto our skin but a lot of us don’t think about what we eat and how this impacts our skin. There are three main things which can damage our skin including DNA damage, oxidative stress and inflammation. Therefore there is a role for some nutrients and components in foods which could delay skin ageing by playing an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, or structural role. In this week's blog our resident dietitian Nicky takes a delve into what key nutrients are important for our skin health

What accelerates skin ageing?

  • Factors which may contribute to skin ageing, dryness and dehydration includes
  • Sun exposure, UVA and UVB rays
  • Smoking
  • A poor diet low in antioxidants and essential fatty acids
  • Alcohol
  • Stress
  • Genetrics
  • Poor sleep
  • Air pollution

What nutrients are important for our skin?

We know that a healthy hydrated person tends to look healthier than a dehydrated person and your skin usually reflects this. One small study showed that increasing water intake in those who were dehydrated had a positive impact on skin appearance and helped maintain skin hydration levels.

Aim for at least 2L of water per day as a minimum and increase this if you are physically active. Be sure to also use hydrating skin products.

Carbohydrates and sugars
High GI foods are broken down into sugar and are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream which result in elevated levels of insulin and insulin like growth factor which can contribute to the development of acne. Refined sugars can also accelerate reduced skin elasticity and ageing.

Opt for low GI foods like sourdough and seeded breads, couscous, quinoa, buckwheat, rolled oats, most fresh fruits and legumes and try your best to limit foods that are high GI and high in refined sugars. Balancing carbohydrates with protein and adding vinegar or acid to a meal can help lower the glycemic index of a meal.

Essential Fatty Acids
There are two main types of essential fatty acids, omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids. Both can be found in foods such as oily fish, hemp seeds, walnuts, chia seeds, avocado and extra-virgin olive oil. Essential fatty acids can play a big role in combating inflammation which we know is a cause of skin damage. They can also reduce thinning of the skin and prevent skin dryness as well as helping maintain the structural integrity of the skin.

Zinc deficiency has been associated with various skin conditions including inflammatory ones. Research shows zinc may help in preventing mild-to-moderate acne by reducing skin inflammation and acne-causing bacteria. Foods rich in zinc include wholegrains, legumes, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, oysters and meat. 

Antioxidants play an important role in maintaining skin health but breaking down the nasty little guys (free radicals) which can damage the skin and also reducing UVB sun damage. Some of these antioxidants include:

  • Vitamin E found in eggs, oily fish, almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds
  • Vitamin A found in carrots, pumpkins, sweet potato, mango and papaya
  • Vitamin C found in citrus fruit, brussels, strawberries, broccoli, leafy greens, kiwifruit and capsicum
  • Polyphenols: These are plant chemicals found in a wide range of foods including berries, nuts, seeds, coffee, tea, herbs and spices

Our top tips for healthy skin

  1. Drink plenty of water
  2. Avoid alcohol
  3. Aim for 7-9hrs sleep
  4. Eat at least 5 serves of vegetables and 2 serves of fruit per day
  5. Include oily fish at least 2-3 times a week
  6. Focus on health fats from nuts, seeds, extra-virgin olive oil and avocado
  7. Include anti-inflammatory herbs and spices in your diet such as ginger and turmeric
  8. Eat foods rich in vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc and selenium
  9. Avoid high GI foods and added sugars
  10. Choose wholegrains
  11. Feed your gut with fibre, prebiotics, probiotics and fermented foods
  12. Avoid chargrilling meats as it can increase a chemical called AGEs which can contribute to skin damage

Our favourite skin loving meals from Activate Foods include

  • Barramundi with pesto wedges
  • Vegan roast beetroot and lentil salad
  • Activated Nuts
  • Paleo banana bread
  • Roast pumpkin & feta breakfast fritatta


If you would like assistance with improving your diet to aid your health concerns, book a consultation with an Eatsense dietitian here:

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