Ask The Nutritionist: Acne

Q. Dear Naomi, I'm in my early-30s and am worried about ageing; I can already see lines appearing around my eyes. The temptation is to spend vast amounts of money on skin creams, but I wanted to first know if there is anything I can do through diet to help save my skin? Laura, Richmond

A. The answer is yes! We can't stop the wrinkles completely, unfortunately (oh if only...), but by eating good sources of the 'skin-friendly' foods I am going to tell you about, and by drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated, we can improve the appearance of ageing skin.

So what causes skin ageing? Well, it is influenced by many factors including UV radiation from sun exposure, excess alcohol consumption, tobacco, environmental pollution, hormones and poor diet.

It is associated with a loss of fibrous tissue, a slowed rate of skin cell renewal, and a reduced vascular network. Barrier function that maintains the moisture of the skin also becomes impaired.

So what are these 'skin-friendly' foods that can help minimise this damage and degeneration?

* Orange & green vegetables- think carrots, butternut, sweet potato, spinach, broccoli, kale, asparagus...the list goes on. These are rich sources of antioxidants which can protect the skin from harmful skin rays, and help repair cell damage caused by harmful free radicals.

* Organic virgin coconut oil- contains fatty acids (lauric, capric & caprylic) which are normal components of the skin, and serve as a replacement for lost lipids in the skin barrier. Have a teaspoon each day- either straight off the spoon or stirred into yoghurt.

* Avocado - nourish your skin with this wonderful fruit both inside and out, by creating a homemade face mask. Use a ripe avocado, peel and de-stone and mash. Pat it evenly onto your face, and leave on for 15-20 minutes. This is highly moisturising- the natural oils act as an emollient, and the vitamin E has additional moisturising properties.

* Tomatoes - rich in the antioxidant lycopene which has been shown to have strong skin-protective properties. Lycopene is best utilised by the body when tomatoes have been cooked and consumed with fat- so roast your tomatoes and drizzle with some olive oil to get maximum impact.

* Coconut water- Coconut water is one of the purest forms of waters, and contains the same five electrolytes as human plasma. For this reason, it is described by some as 'the fluid of life'. It is deeply hydrating, making it fantastic for skin health.

* Biotin- this vitamin is especially important for healthy skin because it creates the fatty acids that nourish the skin, form a protective barrier and provide insulation. Good food sources include eggs, salmon, avocado, nuts, legumes, cauliflower, and whole grains.

I will be discussing the link between Skin Health and nutrition in further detail on Thursday, so please do listen then.