When I was 15 I remember breaking out in pimples, so I gave up soft drink. It worked almost immediately, and I remember thinking I would have to give up my red frog lolly habit too (that didn’t last unfortunately).
We are what we eat. And no matter how long it takes you to learn the lesson (my lolly habit didn't stop til my 30's!), it’s never too late to start because the results are swift in coming. Whatever we put in our bodies (and on our bodies) comes out in some shape or form, whether it’s an extra wrinkle or extra pimple. We spoke to Anthia Koullouros, who’s been a naturopath for 24 years and has seen first hand how food can heal and help our skin be its wonderful best. Eat these foods regularly to encourage collagen growth, clear skin up and promote smooth, glassy, supple skin.
“I think of foods in terms of them being ‘nutrient dense’” says Anthia, “and eat as many nutrient dense foods as possible.” If you use this as your beacon, it’s hard to go wrong because most nutrient dense foods are incredibly good for you.
Here are the nutrients you should be stocking up on, and the foods to get them from.
1. Vitamin A
The first thing to scoff are foods rich in vitamin A “because it prevents skin from being scaly, rough and dry,” says Anthia. Vitamin A deficiency contributes to keratinisation of the skin. “You know when the skin gets rough and spotty on upper arms and legs? That’s keratinisation. Vitamin A helps promote cell turnover so your skin is smooth, almost like it’s been buffed. We get vitamin A from pastured egg yolks from open range farmers, cultured ghee and cultured butter. It has to be pastured (as in, the animals have grazed on grass) to give that betacarotene colour. Liver and cod liver oil are also both rich in A.” Vegetarian sources include carrots, sweet potato, kale and spinach.
2. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is involved in the regulation of collagen which is a structural protein found in skin and other parts of the body. Collagen gives our skin strength and elasticity (that springy feeling when you touch it), and helps replace dead skin cells. “So anything high in vitamin C is going to help regulate collagen production,” says Anthia, “and vitamin C also promotes faster skin healing. The kakadu plum is the richest source of vitamin C amongst all fruits and vegetables, others include capsicum, guava, dark leafy greens, broccoli and kiwi fruit.” You always knew this, right? Anthia is just saying it out aloud for us to remember.
“Zinc improves healing and reduces inflammation,” says Anthia, “it also helps protects against UV rays and helps transport vitamin A around the body - that’s why you sometimes find them together.”
Foods high in zinc include oysters, fish and other seafood. “It’s usually more shellfish than other regular fish,” says Anthia. “Oysters are the richest source and I’ll always eat them if I’m at a good restaurant. You know you’re deficient in zinc if you’ve got white spots on your nails, and a zinc deficiency can lead to lower immunity and impaired mental functions, leading to anxiety. But you can easily test zinc levels with a blood test.” Vegetarian sources include spinach, pumpkin and squash seeds, cashew nuts and mushrooms.
4. Omega 3s
“In today’s diet we eat too many Omega 6 oils, and not enough Omega 3 rich food,” says Anthia. Omega 6’s are inflammatory fatty acids and are found in vegetable oil, sunflower oil, cottonseed oil, and soybean oil amongst others (have a look at practically any packet ingredient listing and you will see one of these oils). Excess inflammation is responsible for a host of major diseases and will prevent you achieving covetable smooth skin. Omega 3’s are anti-inflammatory. So we need to stock up on Omega 3’s and reduce Omega 6’s.
“Omega 3’s prevent keratosis pellaris, where the follicles block up make skin bumpy - you get it on the top of your arms on upper thighs. Wild salmon is rich in Omega 3s, as are sardines, anchovies, pastured eggs, pastured beef and pastured lamb.” Vegetarian sources include walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds.
5. Vitamin K2
“This gives that skin an elastin effect and helps smooths out lines and wrinkles,” says Anthia. “It’s found in pastured egg yolks, sauerkraut, cultured ghee and butter and organic liver. K2 is different to K1, K1 is what cows eat in grass, but the K2 results when cows convert K1 and we absorb when we eat meat. You can get this in a supplement form - usually Vitamin D is together with K2 as a supplement.”
6. Vitamin B5
“This is important because it reduces the damaging effects of the sun, pollutants and other stressors on the skin,” says Anthia. It’s also a natural humectant, drawing moisture from the air into the skin and improving its softness and elasticity.
“Also known as pantothenic acid, it helps prevents fine lines and wrinkles and increases levels of glutathione in the cells.” Glutathione can prevent damage from free radicals, peroxides and heavy metals. “It’s a strong antioxidant,” says Anthia, “we get it from broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, parsley and spinach.”
So now you know what to eat for clear, smooth, glassy skin. And as natural and healthy as you are on the inside, it also counts what you put ON your skin, which is why we believe in natural beauty products, natural perfumes and organic body oils so you're not overloading the biggest organ in your body (your skin!) with chemicals. Eat clean, apply clean beauty products and clean perfume and you are on the way to a healthier existence.
Photos: Chris Mohen
H&M: Melanie Burnicle 2Twenty2 group