A healthy diet, a healthy lifestyle and beautiful skin go hand in hand. For example, our dietary habits, the amount of water consumed daily, but also sleep, exercise and regeneration have an influence on whether we have clear skin. Acne, dry skin, rashes, redness, dark circles and wrinkles are often the result of too much sugar, bad fats, stress, poor sleep and a micronutrient deficiency. But what can you do to get beautiful skin?
The skin - a magic organ: these are its main functions
The skin serves primarily as a chemical and mechanical protective barrier. With its various skin layers, it protects us from pathogens, heat, cold, pressure, UV radiation and irritating substances1. On its surface there are also countless microorganisms and a layer of fat. This chemical barrier actively supports the defence against pathogens such as viruses, bacteria and fungi. Our body hair also protects the inside.
Furthermore, the skin is one of our sensory organs: it therefore not only protects us from external contacts such as cold, heat, pressure and pain, but also allows us to consciously perceive them1.
In the middle layer of the skin, the dermis, there are countless sebaceous glands. They are almost always located on the side of a hair root - except on parts of the body where we have no hair (e.g. genitals and eyelids). These sebaceous glands produce sebum, a mixture of fatty acids and proteins. The sebum is then transported to the outside via the sebaceous duct, where it acts as a layer of fat to protect the skin from drying out, pathogens and other influences.
Nutrition for acne - sugar and excess sebum
As in many other areas, there is also a connection to nutrition: especially sugar, but also unhealthy fats and all foods that irritate the intestines can worsen the skin's appearance:
Sugar, but also other carbohydrates and substances that trigger immune reactions, increase the blood sugar level. This stimulates the storage hormone insulin. During frequent blood sugar spikes, in which the glucose level rises sharply, there is an excessive release of insulin. More on the subject of blood sugar can be read in the article on blood sugar.
However, in addition to signalling the cells to store sugar, insulin secretion also leads to other metabolic processes: The hormone simultaneously inhibits the so-called SHBG, which is there to bind free testosterone. If SHBG is inhibited by the blood sugar fluctuations, the testosterone can no longer be bound and looks for other docking sites. In this case, it is the sebaceous glands because they have testosterone receptors. Testosterone is like a key that fits several locks and triggers different processes in the different doors. At the sebaceous gland, testosterone then causes a change in the DNA; this gives the cell the command to produce as much sebum as possible. This sebum then clogs the sebaceous pores and the pore channel. Bacteria are often added to this and so an inflammation with pus develops, which can then be felt and seen as a pimple2.
A possible solution for blemished skin - the proper diet
The right diet for acne is therefore primarily based on keeping the blood sugar stable and also eating in an anti-inflammatory way. Specifically, this means:
The perfect breakfast: start the day low in carbohydrates, with good fats, fibre and protein.
For lunch and dinner, go for good carbs like rice, potatoes, buckwheat or quinoa and always have a few bites of vegetables and protein first.
Eat blood sugar-stabilising snacks such as nuts, olives, beef jerky, raw vegetables and berries to avoid blood sugar lows and energy holes.
Interval fasting relieves the stress level on your gut and can stabilise blood sugar and balance hormones.
Incorporate good fats such as omega 3 fatty acids and native oils into the diet: Wild caught fish, walnuts, coconut oil, pastured butter, avocado and flaxseed are good sources.
Avoid potential allergens such as gluten, soy and dairy products. An immune response also raises blood sugar levels from within and can therefore trigger an insulin response.
Avoid hydrogenated fats, trans fats and processed foods such as crisps, margarine, convenience foods, ice cream and cold meats. These can trigger inflammation and also inflammation and cell oxidation can lead to skin ageing and acne and promote skin problems.
Vitamins for your skin
Micronutrients also play an important role for healthy skin: vitamin C, zinc, vitamin E, magnesium, selenium, iron, potassium, silicon, vitamin A, vitamin D and B vitamins directly or indirectly support the skin's appearance. So to prevent any skin diseases, these vitamins and trace elements should be available to the body in sufficient form. In concrete terms, this means that foods containing these substances should be present in the daily diet:
Turmeric, omega 3 fats, garlic, fermented foods, fennel, ginger, radishes, walnuts, beetroot, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, pak choi, kale, strawberries, red peppers, carrots, red meat and offal, and organic eggs contain larger amounts of the substances mentioned. The latter especially contain many B vitamins. Red peppers and dark berries are rich in vitamin C2.
Also, bitter substances in bitter teas, grapefruit and also nettle support the liver, kidney and gall bladder in digestion and detoxification.
By the way, the be-all and end-all for beautiful skin is an adequate water supply: 3-4 litres of water daily can counteract dark circles in particular, but also skin ageing. Water supports detoxification and helps the kidneys to filter toxins better. It also supplies the skin and tissue cells with fluid, which then make you look visibly firmer and fresher.
Dry skin - diet and skin care
Less is more here: irritated or dry skin in particular should not be treated with too many cosmetic products. Skin health comes first from within: Nutrition for beautiful skin should therefore be the motto and not as many creams and peelings as possible for skin renewal. Of course, you can remove old skin flakes with such products from time to time to stimulate skin renewal a little more, but you should not use them too aggressively:
Natural cosmetics and products without microplastics or other chemicals that contain natural oils and aloe Vera are absorbed into the subcults and can thus protect more than just the skin surface. Aloe Vera is especially helpful against dry skin. For this, you can take the fresh plant and extract its gel. The gel can be used as a cream or mask. The aloe Vera gel can be mixed with facial oils containing vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin and thus optimally nourishes the skin from the outside2.
Conclusion: Vitamins for the skin
Clear skin through diet is absolutely possible: if blood sugar is kept stable, anti-inflammatory and gut-friendly foods are consumed regularly and industrially processed products, trans fats and allergens such as cow's milk, soy and gluten are eliminated from the diet, the skin's appearance can be significantly improved. The diet for blemished skin should above all be anti-inflammatory and contain omega 3 fatty acids.
Sufficient water, foods with the micronutrients' vitamin C, zinc, magnesium, selenium, iron, potassium, silicon, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E and B vitamins help the body from the inside to form beautiful skin.
When taking care of the skin from the outside, natural ingredients and good oils as well as aloe Vera should be used.
1 Bütikofer, Markus; Hopf, Zensi; Rutz, Guido; Stach, Silke und Grigoleit, Andrea (2015): Humanbiologie 1: Grundlagen, Stoffwechsel und Abwehrsysteme. Zürich: Compendio Bildungsmedien. S. 20.
2 Oberle, Sina (2021): Hautklar - Das Buch für eine reine Haut nach dem Absetzen der Pille. München: Komplett Media Verlag.