Healthy skin from the inside out with Accredited Practicing Dietitian Geraldine Georgeou
“Skin isn’t just what creams you use or the laser treatments you get – it’s about your genetics and how you eat and live your life” – Geraldine. It’s important to understand the power of food and the impact that this has on having healthy glowing skin. You won’t want to live without these helpful tips and tricks from Geraldine for healthy looking skin inside and out!
1. What is one simple change to a diet that you think everyone should know for healthier skin?
Don’t under eat!
Under eating, not eating balanced meals, not being routine and the simple fact of binging on sugar The intake of other high-GI carbohydrate foods, has been shown to increase the levels of insulin in the bloodstream, which can trigger hormonal disturbances such as an increase of testosterone production. The rise in insulin can then lead to an increase in the production of oil from glands in your skin and drive inflammatory processes. Treating insulin resistance with help of a balanced low GI, lean protein and good fats can help sensitise insulin, and improve the balance of hormones associated with acne and inflammation.
2. What food could you absolutely not live without and why?
Oily fish, walnuts, chia seeds and flaxseeds: “These contain omega-3 fatty acids that help keep skin hydrated and fight ageing,” says Geraldine. Studies have found a lack of these fatty acids can lead to skin becoming dry and scaly. Omega-3 fatty acids may also protect against the ageing effects of the sun.
3. What inspired you to study nutrition?
I was always curious how foods works in your body and why some people eat certain foods and experience different effects (positive and negative) .“Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food.” (Hippocrates) rings true and knowing the benefits of functional nutrients for our health and skin is very powerful and to be able to continue to learn and work with world leaders and provide this knowledge to help others is a great privilege.
4. What is something you know now about your skin and gut connection that you wish you knew earlier?
Interestingly, I was diagnosed with coeliac disease in my late 20’s which I truly wished I learnt earlier. Coeliac disease is a condition where your immune system attacks your own tissues when you consume gluten. These damages can occur in your small intestine and compromises the absorption of nutrients including iron, B12 and calcium. Not being able to absorb vital nutrients can indeed affect your skin and predispose you to skin conditions. The relationship between gluten and coeliac disease has been known for more than 100 years but new information is being understood of both coeliac disease and gluten sensitivity (Non coeliac gluten sensitivity) affecting your skin! Skin conditions related to gluten sensitivity include Dermatitis herpetiformis, Alopecia areata, Vitiligo, Lupus erythematosus Lichen sclerosous, Urticaria, Psoriasis, Chronic ulcerative stomatitis and Subacute eczema.
5. What is the most common misconception you see around food and healthy skin?
Avoiding CARBS! Don’t cut out carbohydrates as they provide a great source of fibre - prebiotic, micronutrients including Vitamin C, folate and B-group vitamins and are important fuel source for your gastrointestinal microbiome.
Looking after your Gut microbiome reduces inflammation supports the proliferation of good bacteria, is antimicrobial and supports the immune system and can have beneficial effects on psoriasis, dermatitis and acne.
6. What are 6 do’s and don’ts you live by?
Omega-3’s: These special fats keep the skin hydrated and fight the early signs of aging. Include some oily fish in your diet, or walnuts, chia or flax seeds. Otherwise speak to your healthcare professional about supplementation.
Sun exposure & smoking: These lifestyle habits create free radicals, which are usually mopped up by antioxidants, however if the body is overwhelmed by free radicals, this can become oxidative stress which can cause skin cell damage.
Water: Whether drinking alcohol or not, drinking plenty of water will ensure your skin looks plump and hydrated. Aim to drink at least 2.5 litres a day.
Alcohol: Alcohol causes dehydration, which can lead to fine lines and wrinkles on the skin, as well as depriving
Antioxidants: antioxidants protect skin from sun damage, but it's better to focus on getting these from food than supplements. Foods high in antioxidants tend to have other great nutrients as well. Think citrus and tomatoes which are high in Vitamin C; or nuts, seeds and leafy greens which are high in copper. There's also sunflower seeds and avocado, which are high in Vitamin E. *Have a read (page 27-29) in my book for the lowdown on these micronutrients that promote healthy and radiant skin.
Topical antioxidant creams: Vitamin C serums and the like have become popular recently as anti-ageing solutions, however I always recommend a diet-first approach and think it's better to get these antioxidants from food and let them work their magic from within.
7. Name one skincare product you cannot live without and why?
Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen!
The good news is that being sun smart can be a simple and effective way to reduce the risk of developing any type of skin cancer. Protection from UV light is also essential to prevent premature ageing. Back in the day coconut oil on our skin was all the rage and repeated burning can lead to premature ageing — from wrinkles, discoloured skin spots, rough skin — and skin cancer.
8. We’d love you to leave us with one last piece of advise you think every woman should know.
Protect you skin from sun to avoid the risk of premature ageing and skin cancer.
Nutritionally, we want to consume a good variety of fibres, so prebiotics, whole grains, low-GI carbohydrates, plant-based proteins, legumes and nuts. Including lean protein and good fats such as olive oil will make a “healthy” balanced meal to nourish your skin. Avoid restricting food groups as you will miss out vital nutrients.
In addition, some people might need extra immune support, such as specific probiotics. "With any skin condition, you need to be working with your medical team…Make sure you're using the creams and medicines you've been given”
"It's got to be a multidisciplinary approach to manage your skin condition."