Watch what you eat

Chocolate and chips don’t give you spots – it’s official!

We’re not giving you the okay to eat all the sweet, greasy food you like – it’ll still play havoc with your health (and good looks) – but a more likely culprit is the male hormone testosterone. Spots form when sebaceous glands secrete too much oily sebum – and that’s where your hormones come in, as they stimulate sebum production. The oil gland gets blocked, bacteria get in, and it becomes inflamed and infected, creating that beacon-like glow. Even if your skin is blessedly pimple-free, you might suffer from dry, flaky or itchy skin. It’s so rare to naturally have the perfect version.  But there’s plenty you can do – and eat – to help keep your skin looking pucca.


Your body (including your skin) needs 1.5-2.5 litres a day (the equivalent of about eight to 10 large glasses), and dehydration makes your skin flaky and sore. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty before you drink. And you’ll need more if you’re in an air-conditioned or centrally heated environment, and much more if you’re exercising.
Source: Pure water is best, but moderate amounts (two to three cups a day) of tea and coffee count, too, as well as fruit juice. Squashes and carbonated drinks are not ideal, but a small amount is OK.

Essential fatty acids

Don’t cut fats out of your diet in an attempt to keep your skin oil-free and spot-free. Healthy skin needs fats, just make sure they’re the right ones: healthy polyunsaturates, not the artery-clogging saturated and trans fats you find in fatty meats and junk food. The skin’s outer layer is rich in Omega-3 and Omega-6 essential fatty acids. These help keep the skin waterproof, and if you’re deficient, too much water is lost through the skin, leaving it dehydrated.
Source: Get Omega-3s from oily fish such as mackerel, salmon, sardines, herrings and pilchards. Flaxseeds (linseeds) and their oil are vegetarian sources, though harder for the body to use than fish oil. For Omega-6s, eat nuts and seeds or their oils.

Vitamin A

If you’re deficient in Vitamin A, the upper layers of your skin can produce too much keratin (the hard, tough protein that forms hair and nails), making it rough and scaly.
Source: Get your Vitamin A from food sources like meat and dairy products or dark, leafy greens, carrots and sweet potatoes. Supplements in tablet form often contain “megadoses”, which can accumulate in the body to harmful levels. It’s hard to overdose on Vitamin A from food – the only exception is liver – which is an excellent source of vitamin A, and also of iron and protein, but just one ounce provides more than seven times more Vitamin A than you need each day, so don’t eat too much, too often.


Two per cent of men (and eight per cent of women) are anaemic. Even more have low-iron stores, which can leave you feeling tired and weak. But another little-known symptom of low-iron stores, caused by not enough in your diet, is itchy skin.
Source: Clams, beef, pork, beef and chicken livers, oysters, mussels, shrimps, sardines and turkey. For vegetarians, canned beans, enriched breakfast cereals, cooked beans and lentils, pumpkin seeds, baked potato with skin and canned asparagus.

Vitamin C

When advancing years mean your skin looks a bit “lived in”, remember that you need Vitamin C to make collagen, an essential structural protein.
Source: You can find it from fruits, especially kiwis, citrus fruits, strawberries and blackcurrants. Red peppers are great, too.


Antioxidants help protect your skin from the sun (the main cause of leathery, wrinkled skin), and may even help fight its natural ageing.
Source: Fruit and vegetables are the best sources of these super-nutrients, so eat as much and as many different kinds, as you can.


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