Beauty from within: Dermatologist explores the connection between diet and clear skin

22 February,2024 10:32 AM IST |  Mumbai  |  Maitrai Agarwal

Everyone wants clear skin and is willing to experiment with a wide range of skincare products forgetting that what runs skin deep is more important. Beauty expert helps establish the link between diet and skin health

Image for representational purposes only. Photo Courtesy: iStock

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In recent times, dermatologists are increasingly turning their attention to the profound impact that diet can have on the health and appearance of our skin.
While topical treatments and skincare products play a crucial role in addressing external factors, the food we consume plays an equally significant role in nurturing our skin from within. This holistic approach to skincare recognises that true beauty emanates not just from outward appearances but from the nourishment and care we provide to our bodies internally.

"The notion of ‘beauty from within' is more than just a catchy phrase - it's a philosophy rooted in scientific evidence and clinical observations. Research has illuminated the intricate relationship between diet and skin health, revealing how certain foods can either exacerbate or alleviate common skin concerns such as acne, eczema, premature aging, and overall complexion," explains Dr Deepak Jakhar, consultant dermatologist, and co-founder of Dermosphere Clinic. To further our understanding of the deep connection between diet and clear skin, we asked Jakhar to answer some important questions.

How critical is diet for maintenance of overall skin health?

Diet plays a crucial role in supporting skin structure and function. Nutrient-rich foods provide the building blocks necessary for collagen production, skin repair, and maintenance.

For example, vitamin C is essential for collagen synthesis and skin elasticity, while vitamin E acts as a potent antioxidant, protecting the skin from oxidative
damage. Incorporating a diverse array of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants into one's diet can help promote healthy skin aging and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

The connection between diet and skin health is multifaceted and complex, encompassing a range of factors from inflammation and hormonal balance to gut microbiome composition and hydration status. While skincare products and treatments play a crucial role in addressing external factors, nourishing the body from within is equally essential for achieving and maintaining clear, radiant skin. By adopting a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats, individuals can support optimal skin health and unlock the true essence of beauty - a luminous complexion that radiates health, vitality, and confidence.

How does gut health influence skin?

The gut-skin connection has emerged as a fascinating area of research in dermatology. The gut microbiome, comprised of trillions of bacteria residing in the gastrointestinal tract, plays a crucial role in immune function, inflammation regulation, and overall health. Studies have shown that disruptions in the gut microbiome, known as dysbiosis, may contribute to various skin conditions, including acne, eczema, and psoriasis. Certain dietary factors, such as probiotics and prebiotics found in fermented foods, yogurt, and fibre-rich vegetables, can support a healthy gut microbiome and promote skin health. By nourishing the gut with these beneficial bacteria, individuals may experience improvements in skin clarity, texture, and resilience.

How can your diet impact acne?

Jakhar: Acne, one of the most prevalent skin conditions, has long been associated with dietary factors. While genetics and hormonal fluctuations play a role in acne development, emerging evidence suggests that dietary choices can significantly influence the severity and frequency of breakouts. High-glycemic foods, such as refined carbohydrates, sugary snacks, and processed foods, have been implicated in acne pathogenesis. These foods cause rapid spikes in blood sugar levels, leading to increased insulin production and inflammation within the body.

In turn, this inflammatory response can exacerbate acne by stimulating excess sebum production and clogging hair follicles. Dermatologists often advise patients with acne to adopt a low-glycemic diet rich in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, which can help stabilize blood sugar levels and reduce acne severity.

Can consuming dairy contribute to developing acne?

Jakhar: Dairy products, particularly skim milk, have garnered attention for their potential role in acne development. Dairy contains hormones, such as insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) and androgens, which can stimulate oil gland activity and contribute to the formation of acne lesions. Studies have shown a correlation between dairy consumption and acne prevalence, prompting dermatologists to recommend dairy alternatives or moderation for individuals prone to breakouts.

What are the other prominent skin issues that are linked to diet?

Jakhar: Beyond acne, diet plays a significant role in addressing other common concerns, including eczema and rosacea. Both conditions are characterised by inflammation and skin sensitivity, and emerging research suggests that certain dietary factors can exacerbate symptoms. Foods high in sugar and refined carbohydrates have been linked to increased inflammation in the body, which can exacerbate eczema flare-ups and trigger rosacea symptoms such as redness and flushing. In contrast, an anti-inflammatory diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and omega-3 fatty acids may help alleviate symptoms and promote healthier skin.

People always claim that drinking water does wonders for their skin. How important is hydration?

Jakhar: Hydration is another fundamental aspect of skin health that cannot be overlooked. Adequate water intake is essential for maintaining skin hydration, elasticity, and overall function. When the body is properly hydrated, the skin appears plump, radiant, and youthful. Conversely, dehydration can lead to dryness, dullness, and an increased risk of skin issues such as acne and eczema. Dermatologists emphasise the importance of drinking water throughout the day and avoiding dehydrating beverages like alcohol and caffeinated drinks.

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