Most of us do our best to restrict our fat intake wherever possible, but research shows a diet too low in fat could wreak havoc on the skin, writes Nadia Stennett.

Judy, Jill and Grace weren't shocked, they were just too tired from living on meal replacement shakes to close their mouths.
Judy, Jill and Grace weren’t shocked, they were too tired from living on meal replacement shakes to close their mouths.

If you don’t like the ‘F’ word, you’re about to be offended.

I’m talking of course, about FAT.  No word has the ability to put the fear of God into people quite like it. Which might explain why the ‘fat-free’ food craze has exploded into a multi-billion dollar industry over the past few decades.

And why would anyone want to eat anything with fat in it when there are so many fat-barring alternatives? After all, fat is BAD…right?

Well, not exactly…

Skin health

No dietary nutrient has more impact on the health of the skin than fat. All those skin-loving vitamins you’ve been putting on your clients’ skin won’t be able to do their job effectively if they’re neglected from your clients’ diets. That’s because skin-supporting vitamins (A, D, E and K) are all fat soluble, which means that without a sufficient amount of fat in the diet, they won’t be adequately absorbed, resulting in dry, rough skin that’s prone to blockages like blackheads.

Anti-aging

Including healthy fats in the diet actually helps to slow down the aging process. Fat is needed to moisturise and plump the skin, and moist, plump skin is less prone to wrinkling. A study of over 700 women found that those whose diets were highest in saturated fat had less lines than those who restricted it.

Nail growth

Forget about rubbing those cuticle oils and nail creams into your clients’ digits if they’re not including an adequate amount of fat in their diet. Without fat, nail cells are unable to retain moisture and thus become brittle over time, giving way to damage and breakages and an overall dullness.

How much fat?

The Dietitians Association of Australia recommends aiming to get 20 to 35 per cent of your daily calories from (healthy) fats. Saturated fat, once demonised, is now widely appreciated for its health benefits, provided you choose the right kind (see below). The fats you should avoid include trans fats, which have been linked to cancer and are already banned in several countries, and fats that are high in cholesterol, such as those found in bacon and red meat, which can lead to heart disease.

Where to get your fat from

Nuts

Nut butters

Avocados

Fatty fish

Olive oil

Flaxseed

Coconut milk and cream

Coconut oil*

*Studies have shown this nifty saturated fat can actually raise your metabolic rate and promote weight loss, thanks to its thermogenic properties, so aim to get one to three tablespoons in your diet every day. Try it in stir fries, as a butter alternative in cakes and baking and even include some in your morning smoothie.

Where NOT to get your fat from

Fast food

Deep fried foods

Refined oils like vegetable oil

Hydrogenated fats found in chips and crackers

Have your say: Do you try to encourage your clients to include skin nutrients in their diets as well at their skin care regimes?