EDP column by Dr Ketan Dhatariya

“I have heard that certain foods are good for the skin – is this true?"

It is possible that certain foods are good for the skin, but it is often quite difficult to tell ‘scientifically’. If you look at various beauty products they often say things like, ‘clinically proven’ or ‘dermatologically tested’, or ’retains more moisture’, or something similar. What these statements do not say is tested on what? Or retains more moisture than what? The other important factor is who paid for, or conducted, the research. The recent surge in sales of a particular beauty product is an example. Whilst the research showed that there was an improvement in the skin, the research was conducted and paid for by the manufacturers of the product. It is unlikely that they will publish something that would show them in a bad light. In scientific jargon, this is known as a conflict of interest.

Very recently, new EU regulations came into force trying to tackle the issue of certain foods being given credit for all sorts of things – the so-called ‘Superfoods’. They want to try and limit the amount of credit that can be given to these foods.  Products will no longer be able to claim that they are ‘good for your heart’ or ‘helps lower cholesterol’ without proper scientific analysis having been carried out. Examples include blueberries, salmon, spinach and soy. The EU regulations suggest rather than saying it’s a superfood, producers will have to explain why has been given that label.

Of course it is important to have a balanced healthy diet to help protect against developing certain diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and so on. Certain foods have already been shown to have active components that have anti-inflammatory properties, which may be important in helping people stay generally healthy and prevent skin damage.

To try and see if certain foods can really help the skin it is important to do properly conducted scientific trials that are not paid for or related to any cosmetics company.