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By Dr. Cherifa Aboul Fettouh

We are all good at keeping updated on the best foods to maintain optimum health, but when summer rolls around, with lazy days at the beach and exposure to sun and sea, our skin can need a bit of extra help. Cairo East Magazine went to Dr. Cherifa Aboul Fettouh, consulting nutritionist for UN World Food Programme to get expert advice.

CEM: Which foods can help us keep our complexions radiant and healthy?

CA: All fruits and vegetables are great sources of vitamin and antioxidant compounds. The following foods are extremely good for healthy skin, being high in Vitamin C, beta-carotene and Vitamin E.  We must remember that it can be difficult to get enough Vitamin E in foods alone although cooking oils, nuts, seeds and wheat germ all are good sources. These vitamins are not solo players; they work best when they are performing together.

Which supplements keep our skins hydrated and supple?

If you have been on an unhealthy diet for a long time and your body is seriously deprived of certain nutrients, supplements can help as a catalyst to better health and healthy skin by providing the necessary nutrients. These are some of the essential supplements.

Vitamin C, Vitamin E and selenium: they help to combat free radicals. When the skin is exposed to pollutants, free radicals are capable of attacking and damaging the cells in the body.

Spirulina: if you are on a mainly vegetarian diet it is important to take this protein supplement.  It is rich in amino acids and many other natural vitamins and minerals; it also helps to detoxify the body.

Are there any foods that can help us avoid blotchy flushed skin in summer heat?

Research has found that those who eat the most carrots, tomatoes, fresh fruits and green vegetables are much less likely to get blotchy and flushed skin. In fact, eating just three or more serving of carrots a week reduced risk of blotching by 35%.  Those who ate seven or more servings of tomatoes a week reduced their risk by 60% and those who had two servings a day of fresh fruits reduced their risk by 50%. Salmon is a particularly good choice because it has a high content of omega -3. The antioxidant and immunity stimulating effects of these foods make the difference.

What items can be applied externally as well as integrated into our diet?

Certain polyunsaturated fats called​ linoleic and linolenic acid, or omega 6 and omega 3 oils are vital for the skin. A common sign of a deficiency of these substances is dry skin. Pumpkin seeds and flax seeds are rich in linolenic acid (omega 3), while sesame and sunflower seed are rich in linoleic acid (omega 6). Linolenic acid is converted in the body into DHA and EPA which are also found in mackerel, herring, salmon and tuna.

 

The ideal mix for a paste that can be applied to the skin is one half flax seed and the other half equal portion of pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds. Keep whole in the fridge in a sealed glass container, and grind on the day you need to use.

Which foods are most likely to create greasy or pimply skin?

Avoid fried foods, burnt or browned fat, saturated and hydrogenated fat. Also avoid any form of sugar, foods with added sugar, white or refined foods. Avoid Refined, white, or over-cooked foods, as well as processed food containing lots of additives.

Remember:

Cook food as little as possible.

Minimise your intake of alcohol, coffee and tea.

Food Portion Vitamin C (mg) Beta-carotene (mg)
Broccoli ½ Cup 37 1.0
Brussels sprouts 4 36 0.3
Cantaloupe 1/4 15 4.3
Kiwi 1 89 0.1
Orange 1 80 0.2
Papaya 1/2 94 0.3
Strawberry ½ cup 42
Sweet potato (baked) 1 28 15
Sweet pepper ½ cup 95 1.7
Water melon (cubed) ½ cup 8 0.2

 

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