The truth about superfoods – by Dr Liv

Hi, my name is Dr Liv Kraemer, and I am a dermatologist in Zurich, Switzerland. Is there a connection between powerfood and healthy skin? Everyone says chia seeds are good for your health and goji berries are high in vitamins. Really? What is a superfood diet? Which superfood is the best? Can superfood make you sick or healthy? Which super food fights acne?  Do alternatives to these superfoods exists? Chia seeds or salmons are there superfoods and are they really good for you? I talk about common superfood myths and tell you which diet leads to a smooth and youthful skin.

What are superfoods?

Superfoods are told to be super-dense food loaded with minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, fibre and phytonutrients. They refer to foods such as nuts, vegetables, and fruits. Furthermore, they claim to have a higher health benefit above other foods.

What are superfoods claiming?

Certain brands claiming that their superfoods are fighting heart diseases, stroke or even cancer. According to the American Heart Association  Professor of Nutrition at The Pennsylvania State University Kris-Etherton said:

“There are no standard criteria or even approved lists of superfoods”.  Unfortunately, a lot of people have unrealistic ideas about what superfoods can do for their health or diet.

Are superfoods really super?

The problem is- as soon as we label foods as “healthy” or  “super“- people are starting to eat them in high amounts. They think if they eat a lot of them. they are getting even healthier. But be aware! Look where the products are coming from. What ingredients are inside? Be aware of the ingredients like sugar and calories. Do not eat them in such high amount that you overshoot your daily calorie intake and gain weight. What does it mean?  They also might be processed like a lot of American green tea. Just because it says “super”, they might be just “super” high in sugar and other not so super ingredients.

So please do not believe that superfoods can cure cancer. Also please do not think that superfoods can help you with losing weight. If someone says he or she lost weight without sports and the right amount of calorie intake, look closer before believing. Think before you believe. Of course sometimes wonder exist. But please be a realist to yourself. If you want to do something good for your body and your skin. Eat everything in moderation. Reduce sugar. Eat more local vegetables and try to exercise. Cut down on sweets and sweet drinks. This is much healthier for your purse and your body.

Where do superfoods come from?

A lot of these superfoods are coming a long way along. Have you ever thought about this? You don’t want to harm your environment, you might eating even vegan or vegetarian because you are aware of our word. But at the same time, you are buying superfoods like goji berries? If they coming from far away, how do you think they are landing on your table?

Yes, they were shipped by plane. So maybe consider eating local?!? Local food and seasonal food are as healthy as eating superfoods. These foods have also the benefits to be cheaper and readily available.

Where is the origin of superfoods? Which areas superfoods are coming from?

Goji berry are coming from North China: 7 500 km to Switzerland

Avocados grow in Mexico, USA and Chile: almost 9 500 km to Zurich

Acaji Berries are from the Amazonas: 9 100 km to Zurich

Quinoa origin are the Andes since the time of the Incas: 10 675 km to Zurich. But consider that in the Andes price peaks turned it into a luxury. Quinoa suddenly farmed in monocrops and are crowding out the more sustainable traditional methods.

What are common superfoods and why? What are their myths?

Everyone is talking about chia seeds – but are they any good? They are coming from South America. And in Indeed they’re high in omega-3 fatty acids. These are good for your skin. But if you make a chia pudding with almond milk and sweet toppings you eat a lot of calories and sugar. Therefore think twice!

Avocados are delicious, but one single avocado has 250 calories (a chocolate bar has 230). In fact, they are full of vitamin K which is good for your blood and prevents spider veins, but there are other fruits which are better for your health.

Coconut water – more hydrating than water and performance beverages? Coconut water is expensive and contains a lot of sugar. Drinks and foods with sugar have a harmful impact on your body and skin. Prevent acne – Choose tea or still water!

Spirulina– is a blue-green alga farmed, harvest and dried mostly in Hawaii or India. Most of the time 1 Teaspoon should be taken. But it does contain just 30mg of Calcium and Magnesium and some Vitamin B12. But take a spinach bowl instead. With some fish or eggs, you include Vitamin B12 as well.

Goji berries can treat diabetes, reverse high blood pressure and promote weight loss. Really? They are high in vitamins and antioxidants, that is correct. Goji berries contain a big amount of vitamin C, some vitamins A, riboflavin and iron. But there is no evidence that they can help you lose weight. Although they are a bit sour, they are full of sugar! The red blue color is the key. It provides the right course of antioxidants. They are protecting the berries against free radicals and therefore against damage from UV sun light.

This is why fruit and vegetables with color for example blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, red peppers & Co are important for your skin. They protect your skin from damage against these free radicals.

It doesn’t mean these superfoods are bad for you. It’s just that you should think twice! Furthermore please consider that these superfruits are coming a long way. Did you ever think about it? Look up the origin above.

Great other food alternatives to superfoods?


Superfoods Table

Remember just because it says superfoods it does not mean “super”. Think before you buy. Think before you eat. Look for cheaper alternatives. Instead of quinoa as superfoods try beans and rice in combination. It is cheaper and better together.

Just because a lot of local foods are cheaper, it does not mean they are worse. The opposite is the case. You can easily consume them in large enough quantities and on a regular basis to get the most of your nutrition intake you need for feeling and looking good.

Why are superfoods popular?

Media likes to label some foods as “super”. This may give the impression that other foods in your diets are not as healthy. In reality, these foods often provide nutrients just as valuable as those found in superfoods.

Onions, broccoli, tomatoes and apples for example are packed with health-promoting nutrients. Betacarotene, fibre and the flavonoid quercetin are few of them. Also the wholegrain varieties of cerealbased “starchy” foods for example bread, rice and pasta are also high in dietary fibre.

Remember in adults the dietary fibre-intake should be at least 25 g per day. Why? Because fibre are helping your good gut bacterial to grow. A high amount of good gut bacterial can fight bacteria and help to improve your skin conditions.

Which superfoods are great for loosing weight?

Unfortunately I have to tell you: Everything what sounds too good is too good to be true. There is nothing what you will take and loose weight. First you have to excessive too burn calories. Second you have to minimize your sugar intake. But of course there are foods or ingredients which helping you to do so. So Psyllium shells (Flohsamenschalen in german) are great soaking fibers. They reduce your hunger feeling, if you mix them into your yogurt or salad.

Also the caffeine from Guarana seems to affect your fat metabolism.

Which superfoods are good against acne?

Also here: there is nothing you can take, to make your acne disappear. But of course there are some micronutrituon which will help you against your acne. But it just one wheel of the whole acne treatment. You also have to treat acne from the outside. Food alone will not help. Read my article about acne treatment, to understand more about acne and food.

Food rich in Zinc is definitely beneficial if suffering from acne. Foods rich in zinc are for example nuts like cashews, almonds. Also mushrooms are rich in zinc.

My favorite foods for skin…. best superfoods “super” “foods” 🙂

  • Green tea – wellness for your body and skin! It contains a lot of antioxidants which are necessary for a healthy and youthful skin. But look at the labels and its origin.
  • Red peppers contain beta-carotene which leads to a youthful skin. Colorful peppers are a tasty snack and an alternative to sweet stuff!
  • Cucumber! It is high in vitamin C which reduces inflamed or irritated skin. The peel itself contains silica, which firms up sagging skin. Drink water with cucumbers, it is so tasty!
  • Tomatoes – they are full of lycopene! These antioxidants are found in ruby and orange foods that may help you lower the risk of cancer. But tomatoes are also good for your skin: It is a naturally rich source of protein, which is important for cell repair and muscle building.
  • Fish! Eat once a week fish to get your recommended amount of omega-3 fatty acids. It helps you with dry and flaky skin. Ideally Salmon or tuna.
  • Pumpkin seed oil – I love pumpkin seed oil! I use it in salads or soups. They are high in vitamin A which is an anti-aging nutrient and leads to a smooth skin. It is also full of zinc and magnesium which is essential for glossy hair and strong nails. Read my post about pumpkins.
  • Broccoli  – it is much higher in vitamin C than other vegetables or fruits. Vitamin C is important to synthesise collagen and enhances your skin health.
  • I do like smoothies! But choose fresh vegetables instead of sweet fruits like bananas or apples! Use spinach and cucumber instead.

What food you should avoid:

Too much of fruits high in sugar or glycemic index are bad as well. So consider consuming everything in moderation. Rather eat them raw than smashing than into a smoothy. You will be much more satisfied by chewing them rather than drinking. Therefore eat an apple instead of drinking an apple juice. It has fibres which your good gut bacterial will need to fight against the bad once.

Furthermore try to eat more vegetables like peppers, spinach, broccoli or zucchinis. Take almonds in small plastic bags as snack between your dinner and lunch. Also, try to avoid the snack vendor machines in your cafeteria.

Anyway if you consider buying a smoothie: think twice.

First: is the smoothy done in front of your eyes? maybe is it prepared already hours before. If so: no vitamins are left. Remember vitamins are destroyed by air and UV  light.

Second: Try veggie Smoothies instead. Or just chew you apple or zucchini alone.  🙂 it is healthier anyway. Drink water instead of coke or limo. Look at the labels!

Remember to eat local and seasonal. It is better for your skin and in particular for your wallet. 🙂

Sugar is bad for your skin!

Whether you eat healthy fruits or chocolate, your body breaks down the carbohydrates into glucose. Glucose raises your insulin levels. This causes an “inflammation” in your body and leads to a break down in the collagen production. We call it AGE: Advanced Glycation end-products. Also known as glycotoxins as described in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. These are harming your cells, in particular, your collagen. Collagen is essential for a healthy skin! The result? You get wrinkles and your skin ages faster. Read my post about foods with a high a high glycemic index.  

What superfoods or foods to eat for which skin condition?

Dry skin – which food can help?

  • Cucumber are always a good choice! The vitamin A and C will lead to a healthy skin.
  • Fish! The omega-3 fatty acids help you with dry skin.
  • Flaxseed oil will improve your skin condition. Even it does not taste nice in the beginning. You get used to. Flaxseed oil have the highest content of unsaturated good fett.

When you want to see what you can do against dry skin, read my blog post about dry skin, click here

Oily skin – which food can help?

  • Nuts contain omega-3 fatty acids which can reduce oily skin.
  • Broccoli is high in vitamin C and helps to remove toxins from of the body
  • Whole grains! They are high in fibre and keep your skin free from oil.
  • Less sugar! So no dried food. Not too many of smoothies with a lot of sugar-rich fruits or added sugar. Look at the labels. Search for the carbohydrate intake. Less than 3 g might be a possible wing.

Which food fight acne?

  • Probiotics reduce the inflammation in the gut, which may help your skin. Try miso soups or sauerkraut.
  • Food high in zinc, which helps you to improve your skin condition, e.g. cashews, almonds, chickpeas, mushrooms.
  • Green tea! Antioxidants improve acne breakouts!
  • If you want to know more about acne and what you can do to prevent acne, watch my Youtube video “how to wash your face” or read my blog about acne.

If you would like to learn more about healthy food and skin and beauty treatments, request a consultation. Click here for a personal consultation with Dr.Liv

In case you are not in Switzerland:

read more about healthy skin and follow me on my social media accounts:

Youtube! ➜
Facebook! ➜
Instagram! ➜
Pinterest! ➜
Twitter! ➜

Thanks for your support, either with a comment now or with thumbs up – it helps me a lot!


Dr Liv