Ian Marber, founder of The Food Doctor, is one of the leading nutrition consultants in the UK.
We’re fascinated by the link between healthy diet and healthy skin. To learn what steps we can all take, nutrition-wise, to support healthy and young-looking skin, we went to Ian Marber. Ian, who’s one of the leading nutritionists in the UK, is always full of clear and sensible advice as well as delicious recipes. We knew he’d have something insightful to share.
Ayla: When should we start looking towards nutrition as a way to keep our skin in the best shape possible?
IAN: Well, youth really is wasted on the young. Looking after your skin when you’re younger will have a significant effect on your skin by the time you’re in your fifties, but lots of young people will only change their diet when they need to lose weight or have major skin problems. The link between what you eat and the quality of your skin is not obvious until you’re older, so that’s when most people are motivated to make changes. Regardless of your age, there are many things you can do to support the health of your body and skin as you age.
Ayla: What are your top three recommendations to support healthy, young-looking skin?
• Hydration. While drinking water is important, we hydrate ourselves more effectively with food, which we tend to forget. If you drink a liter of water, for example, you go to bathroom soon afterwards and it seems like the entire liter has gone right through you. But if you eat watermelon (or any other fruits or vegetables), your digestive system processes it more slowly and your body can better absorb the water you’re taking in. Drinking water, you tend to not absorb as much of it.
• Essential fats: omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9. Many people just think about eating fish to get their essential fats, but butternut squash, for example, is also rich in omega-3s. A bowl of butternut squash soup with a drizzle of walnut oil is just as good as having fish.
• Antioxidants. When you’re looking for antioxidants in your diet, don’t just focus on vitamins A, C, and E. Carotenoids can be found in a number of fruits and vegetables, including tomatoes, dark leafy greens, and watermelon. We also hear quite a bit about the antioxidants found in cocoa, green tea, and red wine, which is not surprising, because we usually want to eat chocolate and drink red wine! But don’t forget about the antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables.
Ayla: What are the good-for-your-skin supplements you most often recommend that anyone could benefit from?
IAN: Supplements are like bottles of water – you might need them as well as, but not instead of, the right food. The best source of nutrients is the food that you eat, because those nutrients get broken down slowly and distributed properly in the body. That being said, I often recommend the following daily supplements:
1.) Take an essential fat with the right ratio of Omega 3-6-9. Inflammation is a big contributor to skin flare-ups, and essential fats will help. Ideally, you should have a ratio of two parts Omega 3, two parts Omega 6, and one part Omega 9. Of course, if you have a plate of brown rice with a nutty topping, fish, and some vegetables, then you’d get the right ratio.
2.) Take a probiotic capsule with 8 million good bacteria. You get many wins by taking one probiotic capsule, because good bacteria have many roles. If your liver is overstressed, for instance, any excess toxins in the body are passed into the skin for elimination, which can lead to breakouts. Probiotics can improve your digestion and help with that. Good bacteria also promote the absorption of calcium, magnesium, iron, Vitamin K, and the B vitamins – all of which play a role in skincare.
Ayla: Can you share a recipe or two with us that would be helpful in supporting healthy skin?
IAN: Here are two of my favorites:
1.) Tomato-Rosemary Soup is rich in lycopene, a carotenoid.
2.) Squash & Feta Rosti is another great source of carotenoids and vitamin C:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion finely chopped
2.5cm piece fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
325g butternut squash, deseeded and grated
100g feta cheese, crumbled
Thai 7 spice, to taste
Heat oil in a small non-stick frying pan, add onion cook until soft and golden. Add ginger and grated squash; stir fry for 3-4 minutes until softened.
Add feta and Thai 7 spice, mix well. Pat down mixture in pan and draw it in from the sides to make a cake. Leave over a medium high heat for 5 minutes to firm and brown the base. Put the pan under a hot grill for another 5 minutes to brown the top, then cut in half and serve.
About Ian Marber: Ian founded The Food Doctor Clinic and now practices independently in London, where he conducts one-to-one consultations with clients, advising on all aspects of nutrition and the effect food choices can have on physical health and well-being. He has published 12 books about diet and nutrition. Ian conducts seminars for global companies and has worked with Goldman Sachs, Google and Barclays.
Ian regularly contributes to a number of Britain’s leading magazines and newspapers including the Times, the Telegraph, Natural Health and NetDoctor. Ian is a columnist for the Spectator and Daily Telegraph. Learn more about Ian’s impressive background here.
Any topic discussed in this article is not intended as medical advice. If you have a medical concern, please check with your doctor.