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The dry, chilly weather of the winter can have a negative impact on skin and eyes, causing irritation and a reduction in visual quality.

The dry, chilly weather of the winter can have a negative impact on skin and eyes, causing irritation and a reduction in visual quality.

Dr Deepak Jakhar, Consultant Dermatologist, Dermosphere Clinic, New Delhi and author of the book, Good Skin Bad Skin explains the connection between diet and skin health

The connection between diet and skin health is intricate, and what you eat can have a profound impact on the appearance, texture, and overall well-being of your skin. A balanced and nutrient-rich diet supports various skin functions, helps maintain hydration, and provides essential vitamins and antioxidants. A person deficient in nutrients like vitamins, proteins and minerals generally has a dull and lustreless skin. Without correcting those deficiencies, the topically used creams or serums may not produce the optimum results.

Research has suggested the contribution of oxidative damage, diet, gut health and inflammation in many skin diseases like acne, psoriasis, atopic dermatitis and eczema. The role of gut-skin axis and probiotics is now an acceptable for skin health. Dermatologists, now-a-days are prescribing nutraceuticals more than ever based on the increasing scientific research available for various skin conditions. Several key factors illustrate the relationship between diet and skin health:

  1. Collagen FormationCollagen is a protein that provides structure and elasticity to the skin. Vitamin C, found in fruits and vegetables (orange, lemon & grapefruits), is essential for collagen synthesis. Consuming an adequate amount of vitamin C supports the body’s ability to produce and maintain collagen.
  2. Antioxidant DefenseAntioxidants help protect the skin from oxidative stress caused by free radicals. Free radicals can damage skin cells and contribute to premature aging. Foods rich in antioxidants, such as fruits (raspberries, blueberries, oranges), vegetables, and green tea, can support the skin’s defense against oxidative damage.
  3. Omega-3 Fatty AcidsOmega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts, have anti-inflammatory properties that may help manage inflammatory skin conditions and contribute to overall skin health.
  4. HydrationProper hydration is vital for maintaining skin elasticity and preventing dryness. Water-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables (watermelons, cucumber, etc), contribute to hydration, complementing the benefits of drinking an adequate amount of water.
  5. Gut HealthThe gut-skin axis suggests a connection between gut health and skin conditions. A balanced and diverse diet, along with probiotic-rich foods like yogurt and fermented foods, can support a healthy gut microbiome, potentially influencing skin health.
  6. Protection from UV DamageCertain foods, like tomatoes containing lycopene and green tea with polyphenols, may offer some protection against UV damage from the sun. However, these should not replace the use of sunscreen.
  7. Skin RepairFoods rich in minerals like Zinc (pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds) may be useful for individuals requiring skin repair and renewal.

While some food can be beneficial for skin, others might exacerbate several skin conditions. Diets that promote stable blood sugar levels may help manage conditions like acne. Consuming whole grains, lean proteins, and complex carbohydrates (brown rice, oats, quinoa) in moderation and avoiding foods having high glycaemic index can contribute to regulating acne. For some individuals, certain foods may trigger skin conditions like eczema and urticaria. Identifying and avoiding these trigger foods can be important in managing these skin reactions.

For people who frequently get skin reactions, rashes and wheals, it is advisable to get food allergy panel test done to identify the triggering foods. In several inflammatory skin diseases, individuals may benefit from reducing their intake of highly processed and inflammatory foods, such as those high in sugar and trans fats, which may contribute to skin inflammation.

It’s crucial to recognize that individual responses to dietary changes can vary, and genetics, lifestyle factors, and overall health also influence skin conditions. If you have specific concerns about your skin, it’s advisable to consult with a dermatologist who can provide personalized advice for diet based on your unique needs and circumstances.

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