Diet + Skin Health: Can You Eat Your Way to Glowing Skin?

Can You Eat Your Way to Glowing Skin?

To celebrate Dietitian's Week, Mei Wan, BSc (Hons), MBDA, Registered Dietitian, Skincare Advisor + Health Writer tells us how our diet can help us achieve healthy, glowing skin.

From K-Beauty “glass skin” to layering on SPF25+, what is the secret to healthy and clear skin? As a former Beauty Therapist (and eczema sufferer) and current Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist, I’ve had a long-term fascination with improving skin health. In this article, I will walk you through how your dietary choices may impact skin health and my top tips for helping you achieve sexy summer skin…all-year round.

Skin Simplified

Did you know the weight of your skin is the heaviest organ? Your skin accounts for about 10-15% of your body weight and it’s made of water, fats, collagen, hair follicles, vessels (blood and lymph), and cells (living and dead). The double-layered organ, the superficial epidermis and the deeper dermis, act as protection, thermoregulation, and enable (touch) sensations. Knowing that your skin is a living organ, there is so much that you can do for it and give it the TLC as you would do for all other major organs of your body. Let’s talk about how…

Skin-loving, Delicious Foods

Your genes influence your skin, but that's not the whole story! There are plenty of ways to keep your skin looking and feeling its best at any stage of life. 

Please note that the following ideas are examples that may improve skin health. You may likely have a food allergy (where are my fellow nut-allergy sufferers at?!), food intolerance(s), or you’re following a medically supervised dietary intervention. Everyone is different so, I encourage you to speak with a Registered Dietitian who can help with such differences and create a bespoke approach to your nutrition choices)

  • Ditch the Beige Plate: Unleash Benefits of Eating the Rainbow!
  • Vibrantly coloured fruits and vegetables are bursting with antioxidants and vitamins. Research suggests these may benefit in shielding your skin from environmental aggressors and promoting its natural repair mechanisms [1] [2]. Perhaps ask yourself, “Which rainbow colours can I enjoy today?” For example, red bell peppers, orange-coloured citrus fruits, golden yellow beetroots, spring greens, blueberries, purple cabbage, blackberries, and purple sprouting broccoli. The brighter the plate, the brighter your glow!

    • Healthy Fats For the Win!

    If you’re following a vegan diet, you can get your omega-3 fats in plant-based options such as walnuts, flaxseeds, linseeds, and green leafy vegetables. The Mediterranean diet is the most scientifically researched diet that is rich in omega-3 fats, which have been suggested to slow down ageing and help minimise body inflammation [3].

    • Lean Protein Powerhouses

    Protein is the building block of healthy skin cells. Opt for lean sources like chicken, lentils, and beans. Think of them as the bricks and mortar for a strong, healthy skin barrier. Interestingly, one study found that consuming more plant proteins than animal proteins reduced associated risks of atopic dermatitis in Singapore/Malaysia Chinese adults [4].

    • Hydration Hero

    Water is the elixir of life, and it's no different for your skin. It helps to keep your skin plump and hydrated. Aim for eight glasses a day for that dewy, healthy look!

  • Count Your Plant Points
  • It seems a balanced and varied dietary intake is your best bet for healthy skin. Adding more plant-based foods can help with oxidant defence, lower inflammation, and promote structural support of the skin as they are rich in vitamin C, vitamin E, beta carotene, polyphenols, and phenolic acids [1] [5].

    Achieve a Radiant Complexion with More Than Just Food

    Remember, beautiful skin is a journey, not a destination. What works wonders for your best friend might not be the magic potion for you. Here are some bonus tips to personalise your path to glowing skin:

    • Become a Body Detective

    Pay attention to how your skin reacts to certain foods and skincare products. Keep a food and skincare journal to identify potential triggers. This can help you tailor your diet for optimal skin health. However, don’t eliminate whole food groups without consulting a doctor or dermatologist, as you might be putting yourself at risk of nutritional deficiencies.

    • Stress Less, Glow More

    Chronic stress may impact the health of your skin. Find healthy ways that you enjoy to unwind. Perhaps try yoga, meditation, or spending time in nature. When you're de-stressed, your skin shows it!

    • Beauty Sleep is Real

    Try to aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night. When you're well-rested, your skin has a chance to repair itself and regenerate. This might not be possible for busy parents so, a good reason for an (afternoon) nap? After all, siestas originate from the islands of the Mediterranean diet!

    • Sunscreen Saviour

    Sun damage is a major cause of wrinkles and premature ageing. Apply sunscreen daily, even on cloudy days! However, speak to your doctor or dermatologist if you have any concerns about skin cancer and how to protect your skin if you’re suffering from a skin condition such as acne, eczema, or psoriasis.

    Final thoughts…

    Don't stress about cutting out entire food groups! The key to glowing-looking skin is prevention through a balanced diet rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals – all crucial for healthy skin. Deficiencies can even lead to skin problems. But the good news? A varied diet provides all these goodies! Plus, there's more to the story than just food; keep your glow by managing stress, protecting your sleep, reducing alcohol, and getting active. Start today for a healthier, more radiant you!

    From our founder, Dr. Pauline Hili:

    As a formulator working in the well-being space, I have always been greatly aware of the influence of diet on the health of the skin. Understanding the interplay between inside out and outside in to bring about holistic wellness is something we encourage at Nourish London. Key ingredients such as antioxidants, omega fats, ceramide, and vitamins play roles when applied topically when applied topically as well as through our diet. It's a real pleasure to work closely with Mei, who has extensive experience in both the skincare arena and as a Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist because her approach and thinking are complete and well-rounded. At Nourish we are real supporters of clean beauty - that means we work super hard to keep out any ingredient or ingredients classes that we feel put the long-term health of the skin at risk - just healthy alternatives that deliver results and great collaborations to extend our holistic approach and understanding.

    Book your Skin and Diet Consultation with Mei, a Registered Dietitian, Nutritionist, and Holistic Skincare Advisor.

    Author: Mei Wan, BSc (Hons), MBDA, Registered Dietitian, Nutritionist, Holistic Skincare Advisor + Health Writer




    [1]  Skin health fact sheet - British Dietetic Association (BDA)

    [2] Cao C, Xiao Z, Wu Y, Ge C. Diet and Skin Aging-From the Perspective of Food Nutrition. Nutrients. 2020 Mar 24;12(3):870. doi: 10.3390/nu12030870. PMID: 32213934; PMCID: PMC7146365.

    [3] Oliveira JS, da Silva JA, de Freitas BVM, Alfenas RCG, Bressan J. A Mediterranean diet improves glycation markers in healthy people and in those with chronic diseases: a systematic review of clinical trials. Nutr Rev. 2024 May 8:nuae045. doi: 10.1093/nutrit/nuae045. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 38719207.

    [4] Lim JJ, Reginald K, Say YH, Liu MH, Chew FT. Dietary Protein Intake and Associated Risks for Atopic Dermatitis, Intrinsic Eczema, and Allergic Sensitization among Young Chinese Adults in Singapore/Malaysia: Key Findings from a Cross-sectional Study. JID Innov. 2023 Aug 21;3(6):100224. doi: 10.1016/j.xjidi.2023.100224. PMID: 37731471; PMCID: PMC10507652.

    [5] Fam VW, Charoenwoodhipong P, Sivamani RK, Holt RR, Keen CL, Hackman RM. Plant-Based Foods for Skin Health: A Narrative Review. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2022 Mar;122(3):614-629. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2021.10.024. Epub 2021 Oct 30. PMID: 34728412.