Are you following your skin-care routine to the T and still not achieving the results you’d hoped for? There’s a good chance you might be ‘digest-aging’. What you put inside your body has more to do with your skin than the things you put on it, as deep down inside the gut is where real aging begins. “For me, ingestible supplements are what really do the trick for healthier and younger looking skin. Skincare is secondary,” shares Dr. Talib.
To understand how the foods we eat can cause our skin to age prematurely, we spoke with Dr. Nigma Talib, naturopathic doctor, aesthetician and author of Younger Skin Starts In The Gut, who counts Stella McCartney, Penelope Cruz, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and more among her devoted clients. “Don’t think that it takes years for those changes to manifest; with some foods it can take as little as a weekend of overdoing it for your skin to develop signs such as acne, puffiness, changes in skin tone, premature fine lines and wrinkles, sagging, loss of luster, or dark circles under the eyes,” says Dr. Talib in her book.
The holistic health expert and naturopath to the stars answers all our skin and food related questions:
Firstly, how would you describe young-looking skin? What are the most aspirational characteristics of young-looking skin that you think are achievable?
The way I see it, the “new youth” is to have clear, glowing, bright, dewy, even-toned, firm skin. You want to make healthier what you already have, so that when people look at your skin they don’t think you are X number of years old, but instead think, “Wow, that person is glowing.” You might have a few lines showing a life well lived, but you don’t have to have rough skin or excessive sagging to go with them—and you can have amazing skin texture, a brightness to your skin and minimal pigmentation whatever your age.
What are the nutrients that help in keeping skin young?
B vitamins and the minerals selenium and iodine, help manufacture hormones, such as estrogen, progesterone and thyroxine—all of which are vital for healthy, young-looking skin.
What kind of diet is best suited to achieve younger-looking skin?
I wish I could make it easier for people, but the truth is I don’t believe there is a one-size-fits-all diet. Each person might require something a little different, depending on their level of a state I refer to as gut-flammation. I am not a huge fan of diets, but more into an eating plan that doesn’t involve counting calories but rather eating a fist amount of protein and plenty of colourful vegetables drizzled with generous amounts of good fats, a small handful of complex carbs. In the end, the key is to include healthy protein sources such as organic vegetables, fruit and whole grains.
What are the food no-nos for great skin?
Gluten, dairy, sugar and alcohol are the ultimate agers. To protect your immune system, you must limit your consumption of sugar, gluten, cow’s milk and processed foods. The best advice is to avoid foods with health claims on the label, or better yet avoid foods with labels in the first place.
Hyaluronic acid is all the rage nowadays. How does it help?
Hyaluronic acid is excellent at its job—it can contain up to 1,000 times its own weight in water, so having enough in the body is key to plump, youthful-looking skin, but every day you use up about a third of your hyaluronic acid, which must then be replenished. Like so many processes in the body, the ability to do this decreases as we age and by the time we reach our mid-40s, we only make about half as much as we need. This contributes to drier skin, but as hyaluronic acid is also involved in the formation of collagen, it also contributes to how fast levels of collagen start to fall. As such, lines and wrinkles—the signs many of us associate most strongly with aging—start showing on the skin.
How much of a role does exercise play in promoting better skin health?
Exercise helps boost your metabolism, and increases the growth hormone in the body naturally for keeping premature ageing under control.
Is it ever too late to start eating right for your skin?
It's never too late to start eating right for your skin. Your skin begins to age when you are only in your mid-20s, though you may not see it. Your favorite products may not work as well anymore. Your genes, eating habits, stress levels and exposure to sun all play a role.
What are some myths related to anti-aging techniques for skin?
Tanning booths are safe as long as they don't contain UVB rays.
The higher the SPF, the better the protection.
You don't need sunscreen on a cloudy day.
Scrubbing your face with soap will keep your skin healthy and acne free.
It's better to get the pus out of a pimple by popping it.
Facials and microdermabrasion are good for your skin care routine.
Expensive skin care products work best.
Anti-aging products (or "wrinkle creams") can erase wrinkles.
These are all untrue. For me ingestible supplements are what really do the trick for healthier and younger looking skin. Skincare is secondary.