We’ve all heard the saying, “you are what you eat”, well there is some truth to that! You already know that filling your diet with power foods—like dark leafy greens and citrus—can help beat chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes. The food you eat—from wrinkle-fighting antioxidants in fruits and vegetables to hydrating healthy fats in fish—may matter to your skin almost as much as it does to your waistline. Did you know that certain foods can also work wonders on your skin? There’s a growing body of research showing that diet really does affect your complexion. What you eat can affect your hormone balance, cause acne, and create or lessen inflammation, which is associated with skin aging.
Foods get digested and broken down into vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that your body can use to build healthy skin. If you crash diet or eat highly processed foods, your skin won’t be as strong and supple as it could be. For example, if you don’t eat enough protein, you are depriving your skin of the amino acids that go into making collagen (which makes your skin strong) and elastic tissue (which makes it supple).
Some tips for achieving healthy, glowing skin—starting from the inside.
Drink Plenty of Water!
Water should be your skin’s BFF, it’s vital for ideal skin health. Prevent dehydration and dryness by drinking consistently throughout the day. Adding a lemon or cucumber slices, will help neutralize the skin, as a result enhancing your glow.
Aim for: 8 cups a day
Eat berries, citrus fruits, red peppers, and broccoli
Vitamin C, abundant in berries, citrus, red peppers, and broccoli, which are vital for the production and formation of collagen, skin's support structure. Not only jammed with skin clearing antioxidants, they’re packed with fiber too! A strong support layer underneath helps smooth what's on top and prevent wrinkles.
Aim for: two 1-cup servings of fruit and 1 cup of veggies a day
Photo by Rarnie McCudden from Pexels
They might stain your fingers, but the skin-clearing properties of beetroots are well worth the effort. The purple roots are particularly high in vitamin A, as well as potassium, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin E, which is essential for epidermal health and healing. Combined, these nutrients make a powerful all-round body cleanser, helping to eliminate toxins from the body. Don't like beetroot? Try blending it in a juice with carrot, apple and ginger.
Aim for: one 1- cup serving of veggies a day
This green fruit is widely known to be a great source of vitamin E, which boosts the skin’s strength and glow. It also possesses good quantities of vitamin C, which can be used to reduce skin inflammation, while avocado is thought to stimulate the production of collagen in the skin, which improves its tone and texture. Eating a portion of avocado daily can also improve the skin’s ability to keep itself moisturized.
Aim: ¼ cup serving a day
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Eat dark orange and red veggies, and leafy greens
Beta-carotene is a type of carotenoid (a group of plant pigments) that gives orange—like squash, sweet potato—their color. It also has antioxidant powers, your body converts beta-carotene to vitamin A, which regulates cell production and turnover, so skin's surface is smooth. Beta-carotene, and other carotenoids like lutein and lycopene, may also protect against and repair the damage sun does to the skin. Despite their color, dark leafy greens like spinach and kale are also excellent sources of beta-carotene.
Aim for: three 1-cup servings a day
Get to Love Omega-3s
Despite common misconceptions, not all fats are bad for you. Omega-3 fats, found in fatty fish such as wild salmon, mackerel,and raw nuts, such as almonds, walnuts, and pecans; nourishes and hydrates the skin and reduces signs of aging. These fish and nuts are bursting with omega-3 fatty acids, which fight inflammation in the body caused by sun and stress. Inflammation produces free radicals, and free radicals contribute to aging by attacking collagen.
Aim for: two 4-ounce servings of fish per week; ¼ cup of raw nuts per serving
Eat whole grain foods (AKA: high fiber)
A few studies have found that a low-glycemic diet (more whole grains, protein and produce vs refined carbs such as white bread and sugar) may reduce acne. One explanation is that low-glycemic foods keep insulin steady, and refined carbs and sugar spike it. The surges may boost production of androgens, hormones that, when elevated, can cause breakouts. In The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition a study found that after 12 weeks of a low-glycemic diet, subjects' pimple counts dropped 20 percent. More studies are needed to prove the link.
Aim for: 3 servings a day (1 serving equals a slice of bread or 1/2 cup cooked whole grains)
Ditch dairy (but keep Greek yogurt)
Dairy specifically has been linked to increased acne. Although dairy is high in nutrients our bodies need and love – like calcium and protein, food from animals may not be the ideal source of protein, as study after study has linked animal-based proteins to higher incidents of cancer.
The science isn’t totally conclusive, so you don’t have to abstain from meat and cheese forever, but certainly doctors now agree that decreasing your intake of animal proteins in favor of more vegetables is a good idea, for your skin and otherwise.
You don’t have to remove dairy from your list altogether: try a close to sugar-free as possible Greek yogurt as a source of calcium, protein and probiotics.
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Want super smooth skin? You'll have to keep your sweet tooth in check. Sugar is a pro-inflammatory which can lead to signs of premature aging. It also disrupts hormonal balance which can aggravate acne. Low-glycemic diets have been shown to be beneficial to acne-prone skin. In my practice, I usually recommend reducing sugar as much as possible. I replace refined, sugary foods with nutrient-dense foods- like fruit, vegetables, and whole grains.
Follow these Tips to improve you skin from the inside out!
By: Carol Aguirre MS, RD/LDN
Top Photo by Samuel Silitonga from Pexels
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