Catherine Sharman, chef, nutritionist and founder/CEO of Après Food, talks about her top nutritional tips for improving skin health and achieving glowing, vibrant skin.
''Using the right skincare products can certainly help you achieve that undeniable healthy glow. But there are other things you need to do in order to maintain healthy skin.
There is a new understanding of the science behind what is really impacting the health of our skin: And that’s our Microbiome
1. What we eat takes care of our gut health, and in turn gives us healthy skin. We all know about the gut microbiome, but did you know the skin has its own microbiome too - found deep in the base layers. It also has lymphoid tissue, known as SALT (Skin Associated Lymphoid Tissue), which is part of our immune system and is highly active. So it is important we think about and look after both microbiomes, especially as they also constantly ’talk’ to each other. The skin is our largest organ, having over 300 million skin cells. Each square cm of our skin contains over a million ‘normal’ bacteria and over a million immune cells, which, like our gut bacteria, are highly influenced by what we eat, stress we are feeling and how much restorative sleep we get. The important connection here is that the quality of our skin depends not only on sleep and the food we eat, but how diverse our gut microbiome is and how effective our digestion is. This is because of how these things interact with our immune system, which our gut bacteria help to control. So we need diverse and healthy beneficial ‘normal’ gut bacteria to do this. Stress and certain foods we eat can also weaken the barrier of our gut lining, this leads to ‘unbeneficial’ bacteria escaping our gut and entering the bloodstream, which leads to activation of the immune system and inflammation.
So what do I need to look for with my nutrition to help my skin microbiome?
Include high quality protein (our cells and collagen are made from protein) and lots of different plant based ingredients (up to 30 each week), this helps with the quality and diversity of our gut bacteria.
Remember that sugar literally ages our skin. Avoid ultra-processed food - there is such little nourishment to be found here
Healthy, glowing and vibrant skin needs the following nutrients:
Vitamin C - vegetables and fruits (vitamin C is needed to make collagen, so if you aren’t having enough this will affect the health of your skin)
Vitamin A - rich in yellow and orange peppers, carrots and sweet potatoes
Magnesium - nuts, oats, spinach, peas
Zinc - oats, seeds, nuts, lamb, ginger root, chicken
Selenium - fish, chicken, oats, nuts, seeds
If you don’t have the time to cook, you will find all the nourishment you need in our nutritionally researched, health-benefit led, organic, restaurant-quality meals, delivered straight to your doorstep, found here: Après Food
2. Beauty sleep is real - give yourself the opportunity to have deep, restorative sleep.
As we sleep the skin’s metabolic rate increases, so this means new cell production; removal or repair of old cells; nourishment and restoration of cells as we sleep. Sleep also facilitates restoration of our immune system - lack of sleep and stress changes our immune response, affecting collagen production, skin barrier function, mucous membranes and skin pH levels, so prolonged lack of sleep will affect the moisture levels, composition and integrity of our skin
There are two types of sleep: REM sleep, which is more of a physical sleep, and non-REM sleep, which is more of a mental sleep.
The deepest stage of non-REM sleep is called slow-wave sleep (SWS). During this important stage of sleep the body actively secretes growth hormone to heal muscles and skin.
3. Embrace probiotics Applying probiotics to the skin directly and selectively, increases the activity and growth of beneficial ‘normal’ skin bacteria, having a positive effect on the health of our skin by modulating the immune system. Priobiotics have the capacity to optimise, maintain and restore the microbiome of the skin in different ways - all having a direct effect at the site of application by enhancing the skin's natural defence barriers. They also produce (as does our resident beneficial bacteria) antimicrobials that benefit our immune response, helping to effectively fight off pathogens.
Topical application of probiotics:
Try using this gorgeous Probiotic Multi-Mineral Repair Mask - Nourish London, which is rich in all the minerals our skin needs to repair and glow
A. muciniphila, a specific type of probiotic bacteria, is possibly one of the most abundant in our colon, and studies show it helps to maintain barrier function, which suggests that this probiotic may be important in skin health.
Lactobacilli and bifidobacteria are probiotics that have the potential for improving inflammation and barrier control, both of these are available as internal probiotics and are safe and easy to take.
As always, please discuss with a medical professional, if you have any concerns about your skin health. If you think you feel any dietary issues are contributing to your skin problems, I wholly recommend working with an appropriately qualified nutrition professional.
This article was written as part of a collaboration with Nourish London.