The skin is a living organ, with cells that continuously renew themselves. And, like any other organ, what nourishes your body, also nourishes your skin. What you eat also impacts how you feel, both physically and mentally. It goes without saying, then, that healthy food and drink affects your health and appearance. If you live an active life, healthy food and enough to drink – preferably fresh water – is extra important.
The best food for good skin
Fruit and vegetables contain many vitamins that are good for your skin and generally good for your body. Be on the look-out for fruit and vegetables rich in vitamin A and C. Vitamin A helps to form new skin cells, while vitamin C aids in the formation of collagen.
The minerals zinc and iodine are useful nutrients that help take care of your skin. Good sources of zinc are ox and lamb, but the mineral is also found in plant sources such as lentils, beans, nuts and seeds. Good sources of iodine are fish and dairy products. You should also drink enough water to avoid dehydration and dry skin. Fatty and sugary foods are not healthy, either for your skin or the rest of your body.
How much sun on your skin?
It’s important to expose your bare skin to sunlight because this is the main way your body gets vitamin D. It is well known that vitamin D contributes to the functioning of your immune system, which combats infections on the skin and elsewhere.
However, you need to strike a balance between spending time in the sun to get the health benefits of vitamin D and avoiding skin cancer from too much sun exposure. The balance is different for each person and depends on where you live, the time of day and year. According to the British Cancer Association, as little as nine minutes of lunchtime sunlight in the UK, without sunscreen, is enough for people with light European skin to get the health benefits from the sun. Darker skin may need up to 25 minutes.
When the sun isn’t shining
If you live in a country with little daylight during winter, you will have a vitamin D deficit during these months. It’s therefore wise to eat oily fish (a good source of vitamin D), take fish oil or vitamin D supplements.
What SPF should I use?
The NHS says a sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 15 should be enough for most people in Britain to prevent exposure to too much harmful UV radiation from the sun. However in reality, many people apply sunscreen too thinly. Based on this, an SPF of 30 may be better.
If you travel south in summer, use a higher SPF for the first days. If you have sunscreen left over from last year, replace it with a new one if you have used some of it, or if it has been in the sun or near heat, or without a top for a period of time.
Source: British Cancer Association, NHS