Eat your way to clear skin

It seems a shot at a Kate Bosworth-esque complexion comes down to what you eat…

What would you do for flawless skin? Some sip kale juice, others take supplements. But it turns out, all you need to do is change how you eat.

For years, experts said greasy foods and chocolate don’t cause pimples, and what you eat has no effect on your skin. But new research – and what docs are witnessing – proves otherwise.

“The phrase ‘you are what you eat’ is true, because we continuously repair our skin using raw materials from our diet,” says dietitian Cynthia Sass. “I’ve had clients reporting reduced irritation after making dietary changes.”

Naturopath Emma Sutherland has witnessed the same. “It takes six to eight weeks to see changes,” she says. “Pimplescanbe eliminated, unless you have a hormonal issue.”

What are you waiting for? Here are the four rules to feeding your face.

Lose the processed carbs

Simple carbohydrates – like white bread, pasta, biscuits and sweets – are not your face’s friend. A study showed that switching the white stuff for wholegrains led to fewer pimples. Plus, other research found that losing the carbs meant 28 pe cent fewer blackheads and whiteheads, and 71 percent fewer cystic pimples, after 10 weeks.

Carbs go hand in hand with sugary treats, which Sass also recommends reducing. And Sutherland says to go a step further: “Avoid alcohol and caffeine as they’ll cause your skin to become a vehicle for eliminating toxins.”

Sticking to complex carbs, like brown rice, quinoa and wholegrains, will put you on the fast-track to flawless.

Cut down on dairy

It’s not just your hormones that could be to blame for those pimples that have been popping up – you’ve also got a cow’s to contend with.

Milk is full of hormones specifically designed to help baby cows grow! But they also grow pimples. One large study showed women who drank the most milk were 44 percent more likely to have severe acne than women who drank no milk.

“Try eliminating dairy from your diet altogetherfor one month to see if it reduces new acne formation,” suggests Sutherland. “Many people suffer congested skin due to an inability to digest lactose properly.”

Load up on fruit & veg

Turns out, the fruit and veg section of the supermarket might be more effective than that expensive salon.

One study found that people who ate six servings of fresh produce every day for six weeks were rated as more attractive than those who ate less fruit and vegetables.

Other research found photos of subjects who ate a healthy diet rich in fruit and veg were rated more attractive than those with suntans.

Exactly what fresh stuff do you need? Five tennis-ball-sized portions of produce, says Sass. Superstars include leafy greens, which help alkalise the body, and vitamin-packed kale to help protect the skin.

Vitamin C is another winner – think cherries, red capsicum and kiwi fruit. Eat them raw when you can, as fruit and veg are made up of up to 96 percent water, and staying hydrated is essential for glowing skin.

Switch meat for fish

Show your skin some love by laying off red meat – its omega-6 fats can trigger inflammation. Not that all fat is bad news: omega-3 fats can actually help to reduce inflammation, a factor in acne and redness.

“Essential fatty acids will help plump up your skin cells,” says Sutherland. “Find them in oily fish, such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring and sardines.”

Anti-inflammatory, plant-based fats are also vital for clear skin, says Sass. So load up on avocado, extra virgin olive oil, nuts and seeds – and you’ll be rewarded with super-clear skin.