If you’re a woman in your late 30s, 40s or 50s, the hormonal changes of the peri menopause can pose a big challenge for your skin.
Whether it’s lacklustre, spotty, dry, ageing, itchy or sensitive, issues with your skin can profoundly affect your confidence and self esteem.
Your skin might be hibernating away from the cold right now, but it’s a great time to give it some love. Then when spring hits you’ll be more confident about emerging from beneath your layers!
Here are 4 things you can do nutritionally to get your skin healthy and glowing again.
1. Eat more fat
You might have negative associations around fat, linked with weight gain.
But there are fats that are highly beneficial for your skin.
- These fats (omega 3 and omega 6) are very important for the healthy function and appearance of your skin. They support the skin’s structure and help “plump” out the skin’s appearance.
- They also protect your skin. Your skin is made up of layers and the outermost layer of the skin acts as a vital barrier. It’s a bit like a wall and it prevents water loss as well as stopping bacteria and toxins entering deeper into the skin. Essential fats form part of the structure of this barrier.
- Omega 3 and 6 fats also decrease inflammation in the skin. Inflammation accelerates ageing and occurs with spotty, itchy or sensitive skin.
How can I get more Omega fats?
Omega 3 and 6 fats don’t naturally appear in large amounts in a “normal” diet. Good sources include:
- oily fish, nuts, seeds (such as sunflower, pumpkin and sesame)
- cold pressed oils in dark bottles, such as flax, rapeseed, hemp and walnut oils.
Once heated or exposed to light, the benefits of these oils are destroyed. Use them in salad dressings or mixed into yoghurt based smoothies. If you can’t eat enough essential fats (it can be difficult to get enough in your diet to make a difference), consider a supplement which contains fish oil and evening primrose oil. You need the guidance of a practitioner to take these supplements if you are on blood thinning medications.
2. Zap those free radicals
Too many free radicals and not enough antioxidants to get rid of them, spells trouble when it comes to skin and ageing.
Free radicals are nasty chemicals, produced on a daily basis, during normal body processes. Even more are produced as a result of sun exposure, burnt food, excessive exercise, stress and pollution.
The best way to get antioxidants is to eat as wide a range of different coloured fruit and veg. Think of a rainbow and try as many different types as possible. That way, you will get all the different, amazing plant chemicals to fight off the free radicals.
As well as eating whole vegetables, consider juicing them. This will give you extra hydration too and many people report improved skin quite quickly when they start juicing. Avoid juicing fruit though because that will hike your sugar levels.
3. Vitamins A & E
Signs that you might be short on vitamin A are dry, flaky skin, cracked dry skin on your heels, Hyperkeratosis (thickening of the skin e.g. on elbows, upper arms and heels) and brown pigmentation spots, commonly known as age spots.
If you have age spots, dry skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis or skin that is slow to heal from wounds, it is worth looking at whether you are getting enough vitamin E.
If taken in higher strengths, these two vitamin supplements need to be taken under practitioner guidance due to potential interactions with medications.
4. Balance Blood Sugar
Imbalanced insulin can worsen skin problems such as acne as well as upsetting the balance of the female hormones, oestrogen and progesterone.
The three most effective ways to support healthy insulin and blood sugar levels and reduce cravings are:
- Include high fibre foods in your diet such as vegetables, milled flaxseeds, chia seeds and wholegrains such as oats and brown rice.
- Include regular protein containing meals
- Reduce the amount of sugar you eat. This can be a tough one, since sugar has a drug like effect on your body! Swapping out milk chocolate for dark chocolate is a good place to start. You tend to need a lot less dark chocolate to satisfy a sweet craving. It contains much less sugar and more antioxidants and magnesium too.