Want clear skin with a lit-from-within glow? (Trick question – of course you do.) While there are plenty of topical treatments that can help, radiant skin starts in the gut. Here, clinical nutritionist and best-selling author Jessica Sepel shares her favourite foods for optimum skin health. Over to you, Jess…
As a nutritionist and a self-confessed foodie, it’s fair to say that I love my food. No matter what season it is or which country I’m in, I’m always thinking about the next delicious, nutritious thing that I can eat or make. And while taste always comes into the equation (who has time for dry, bland food?), I’m always mindful of the nutritional value of the food on my plate. Not only does our diet play a key role in our overall health, hormonal function, sleep, energy and gut health, but it plays a fundamental role in the appearance of our skin.
While I was studying nutrition and practising in clinic, I saw first-hand that beauty is an inside job. It’s not only what we eat, but the way that our bodies assimilate those nutrients, that improvise the texture and complexion of our skin. That’s why it’s essential to practise good gut health and consume a variety of whole foods, which populate the gut with good bacteria.
In my professional experience I’ve found that certain nutrients and minerals – including zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, protein and vitamins A, C and E – are essential for maintaining healthy skin. I’m super passionate about skin health, which is why my Skin + Digestion Vitamins are loaded with skin-loving nutrients.
In addition, there are certain foods that supercharge skin and create a natural glow. Here are a few of my favourites:
- Probiotic-rich foods: Great sources include kefir, kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut and organic yoghurt, which contain a range of live probiotics that help our bodies to digest and absorb nutrients. In turn, this helps to promote good gut health, which aids the appearance of our skin.
- Dark leafy greens: I try to eat greens every day as they are hand-down a beauty powerhouse. My favourite options include kale, silverbeet, spinach and broccolini, which are packed with antioxidants. These veggies help reduce toxic load and protect us from cellular damage and an inflammatory response in the body. Also, greens are rich in fibre, which promotes good gut health and is key for healthy skin. Try filling half of your plate with greens at lunch and dinner. Add a drizzle of olive oil and a fresh squeeze of lemon juice for extra nutrients and flavour.
- Seafood: Seafood is loaded with zinc, selenium and omega-3 fatty acids. Zinc helps to rebuild collagen, selenium reduces cell damage and inflammation, while omega-3s promote cell growth and. I choose shellfish, oysters and sustainably caught salmon.
- Seeds: Opt for pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, sesame seeds (or tahini) and flaxseeds. They’re rich in zinc, which promotes collagen production, smooths the skin and helps to repair scars. They also contain omega-3 fatty acids, which helps to moisturise skin from the inside and reduces inflammatory flare-ups.
- Berries: Think blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, acai berries and goji berries. Berries are loaded with antioxidants, which help to fight free radicals and promote a clear complexion. They also contain fibre, which encourages blood sugar balance in the body and digests easily. They’re also rich in vitamin C, which promotes collagen synthesis.
Jessica Sepel is a clinical nutritionist, best-selling author and founder of JSHealth. She is passionate about helping people overcome fad dieting and disordered eating, having gone through her own struggles with food. Her philosophy is focused around balance, rest and building a healthy relationship with food. She recently launched the JSHealth App, which features a world-first nutrition clinic, hundreds of healthy recipes, a daily meal planner, health guides, body love support and much more. You can find her on Instagram at @jshealth.