Eat your way to healthy skin in 2011

If the festivities have left you looking a little worn out take some heart in the fact that you can eat your way to a healthy complexion in 2011. All you need to do is eat the right kind of foods – and that doesn't just mean 'healthy' ones, as Emma Harrowing finds out.

Overindulged on food and drink this festive season and feeling a little sluggish? Maybe you have not been indulging in the right festive foods.

Skin therapist and Life Matters skin expert Louise Thomas-Minns believes that there are a number of festive treats that you can feast on which are good for your skin.

If like us you have gorged yourself on mince pies and had one to many glasses of festive cheer which has left your skin looking dull and dry, here's Louise's guide to the food and drink you should be eating to get your skin glowing in 2011.

Chocolate: Perhaps you have some chocolate left over from Christmas as chocolate is in abundance at this time of the year.

By making the choice of reaching for some dark chocolate (70% cocoa) can help to slow the ageing process. Dark chocolate contains protective anti oxidants that defend the skin against harmful free radicals that we are exposed to daily via UV rays, pollution, smoking and excessive alcohol.

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So go ahead I give you permission to indulge.

Cranberries and brussel sprouts: Nutritional therapists always encourage us to eat seasonally available foods and these two couldn't get more festive.

Cranberries are not just destined to end up in a jar to grace your turkey but can be used to top your breakfast cereal or yoghurt and added to smoothies to give a festive twist.

Don't boil your brussels to death! But gently steam them to retain the flavour and nutrients.

Both of these foods are packed with Vitamin C which is vital for collagen production. Collagen gives the strength and resiliency to your skin and prevents lines and wrinkles forming.

Mulled wine: This is one of my favourite festive drinks. Being enveloped by a warm mixture of red wine, oranges, and spices, there's nothing better on a cold December evening with a few carols playing and guess what there are some hidden skin benefits!

You need to go a little easy on this as ready made versions can be laced with extra sugar which is a big skin no no, but one or two glasses can be of assistance. Red wine is rich in polyphenols which again protect and defend the skin from damage and the oranges will provide that the Vitamin C boost which will also boost the skins immunity too.

Cinnamon: All hail cinnamon! I get through this in droves - sprinkling it over my porridge, adding it to festive baking or letting a whole stick infuse in my homemade mulled wine.

This wonder spice, as well as tasting great, helps to balance our blood sugar levels (perfect if you've just cracked open another dark chocolate orange) it also has anti inflammatory properties.

Inflammation in the body is responsible for many skin issues from ageing to Eczema so increasing your intake of this spice can really help to calm things down and lead to long term benefits.

Parsnips: You can't beat a crisp roast parsnip or two or three along side your roast potatoes on Christmas day. Did you know this sweet, tasty roast root vegetable is great for your digestive health?

They feed the good bacteria in our digestive tract making them flourish. A healthy gut leads to healthy skin!

Nuts: And finally……. Go nuts for nuts! Steer clear of the salt and fat loaded variety but snack on the raw versions of pecans, almonds, brazil and walnuts and while were at it add some seeds to the mix like sunflower and pumpkin.

All of these are rich in essential fats which are vital to skin health.

They strengthen the cells membranes allowing O2 and nutrients in and toxins out they are fats that are good and that all the cells of your body need.

Why not add some Tamari sauce to a nut mix and gently roast them in the oven for a nutrient rich, savoury treat….delicious!