According to the available evidence, we can affirm that diet can affect the skin in several ways. In some cases, the diet facilitates or increases some skin problems; in others, food helps prevent skin deterioration and certain pathologies.
Around the subject there are various myths and prejudices, but also scientific studies. These demonstrate the fact that diet can affect the skin. Some foods strengthen this organ, while the deficiency of certain nutrients results in dermatological problems.
Just as food can negatively affect the skin, nutrients also help prevent or treat certain pathologies or forms of skin deterioration. In fact, in some treatments it is essential that dietary modifications are made to achieve results.
Can diet affect the skin?
The skin is the largest organ in the body and represents something like a sixth of the body weight. It has multiple and important functions that include, among others:
- Protection against external agents
- Absorption of ultraviolet rays
- Vitamin D production
- Maintaining the water balance.
There are several pathologies that are reflected in the skin and that have to do with nutrition. This is the case of marasmus or pellagra, two diseases that are caused by deficiency of vitamin C or protein. Also, low iron diets are associated with alopecia, and alcohol consumption increases the symptoms of psoriasis and rosacea.
Conversely, there is no scientific evidence that high-fat foods are related to acne or other similar problems . The influence of chocolate on good skin health has not been shown, as is often believed.
Aging and nutrition
Aging is one of the processes that shows that eating can affect the skin. It must be said that this phenomenon has two major components. The first is extrinsic aging , which is caused by environmental factors , mainly solar radiation.
The second is intrinsic aging, which is caused by genetic and lifestyle determinations. The latter includes food. Science has been able to establish that accumulated oxidative damage , along with decreased metabolic function, causes the skin to become inflamed and lead to skin aging.
Also it has been demonstrated that foods rich in antioxidants are useful to reduce the effect of free radicals and, therefore, to slow down skin aging. It is appropriate to consume fruits and vegetables in abundance.
Diet, acne and sun damage
Some studies indicate that dairy, as well as foods rich in sugar, worsen acne skin. Lactose-based supplements are included in that group. Chocolate has detrimental effects, only if it is sweet chocolate. Cocoa as such does not affect acne.
On the other hand, foods rich in beta carotenes are known to help protect the skin from sun damage . It also protects the immune system from the effects caused by UV rays. In other words, a diet rich in beta-carotenes prevents photoaging and skin cancer.
Skin disorders and diet
Eating disorders of skin disorders have been classified into four groups. The first corresponds to skin disorders closely related to diet. The most outstanding of them is dermatitis herpetiformis . This condition is directly associated with the consumption of gluten.
The second group is that of skin disorders that have a probable relationship with diet. These are atopic dermatitis, acne, psoriasis, pemphigus, hives, and contact dermatitis . These anomalies are frequently related to food allergens, which in 90% of cases correspond to: wheat, milk, soy, fish, eggs and peanuts.
In the third group are the anomalies related to nutritional deficit, where they are: kwashiorkor, pellagra, scurvy and marasmus . Food deficiencies lead to these diseases. Finally, there is the group of skin disorders related to nutritional surplus.
In the latter case, the associated diseases are obesity, carotenemia, and lycopene. There are a number of conditions that appear more frequently in obese people, such as candidiasic intertrigo, stretch marks, etc.
Carotenemia is caused by excessive consumption of carotenes. And lycopene, due to excessive consumption of fruits high in carotenoids.