Eating For The Glow

Written By: TYHN Dietician

The skin is the largest organ of the body, and for many women making sure it looks good is a priority. Women all over the world spend large sums of money monthly to achieve youthful glowing skin. Have you ever thought about: “What you eat affects how your skin looks?”

Healthy eating can result in improvements of skin conditions such as acne and psoriasis; it can also result in the prevention of some skin conditions such as skin cancer and aging of the skin. Some of the medications prescribed to manage skin conditions may increase health risk, where dietary changes help reduce this health risk.


Although the link between dermatological conditions and the diet were denied in the past, recent research has found diet as a potential cause for acne. Foods such a high fat dairy products and refined carbohydrates have a substantial impact on the skin.

Cow’s milk contains growth hormones and anabolic steroids as it is meant grow calves. It also is high in carbohydrates affecting serum insulin and insulin growth factors, which in large quantities have negative impacts on the skin. Keep to the recommended 2-3 portions of dairy for the day for an adult, which is equivalent to 1-3 cups of milk per day. Discuss your individualized dairy recommendation with your dietician.

A high-refined carbohydrate or high glycemic index diet have been found to be causative of inflammatory skin conditions. High-refined carbohydrates include foods such as sugar, white bread, sweets and chocolates. These foods are rapidly absorbed, leading to high blood glucose level and reactive serum insulin levels. Insulin and insulin growth factor-1 affect all the biological process that lead to the development of acne. Studies have shown that a low glycemic index diet followed for 12-week results in improvement of acne and insulin sensitivity. Speak to your dietician to find out more.

Skin Cancer

Numerous studies have shown that a diet high in fruits and vegetables reduces the risk for cancer, as these are high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber; and have antioxidant properties. A diet low in animal proteins and fat have only shown some beneficial properties in the prevention and management of cancers. Therefore include lean proteins and consider having some meat free meal 2-3 times per week to help increase you plant based food.

Skin Aging

The skin is constantly under construction and it uses various nutrients from food to repair and build. Sagging and elasticity of the skin are impacted by the diet. A diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates can accelerate skin aging. Foods prepared with high heat cooking methods such as grilling, frying and roasting cause inflammation and has negative effects on the skin. there fore, choose whole grains and try to eat at least one meal per day with raw plants – like a salad.

You Are What You Eat.

How you eat affects your body completely, including the skin. Have a diet high in fruits and vegetables, limited sugar and saturated fats and have whole foods as much as possible. The goal should be to have a healthy balanced diet, to reduce your risk of developing other disease conditions and to achieve that healthy glowing skin. For more individualized nutritional information contact your nearest dietician.

Reference: Katta, R. and Desia, S., 2021. Diet and dermatology: the role of dietary intervention in skin disease. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 4 May 2021].

About the author:

Tanya has been providing dietary guidance since 2009 as a registered dietician licensed in South Africa. Her goal is to help patients understand the connection between diet and diagnosis for improved nutritional well being.

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