How Your Diet is Linked to the Health of Your Skin
With a new year on the horizon, now is the best time to take the leap in self-improvement, and it all starts with your diet. You are what you eat, after all!
And since beauty comes from within, consider the foods you consume and the foods lacking from your diet that can contribute to the health of your skin.
With that being said, let’s take a look at how the foods that you consume affect your skin, along with the best foods for promoting a healthier, more radiant complexion.
How Diet Contributes to The Skin’s Texture and Appearance
Food can make or break a beautiful complexion. Antioxidant-rich foods protect the skin from damage, including sun damage, free radicals, and signs of ageing. While diets high in sugar, processed foods, unhealthy fats, and carbohydrates can cause inflammation, breakouts, blemishes, and promote skin ageing.
So, if you want clear, smooth, and supple skin, aim to eat foods that are healthy for both you and your skin.
Foods That Promote Healthy Skin
Fatty fish, such as salmon, herring, and mackerel are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help keep skin thick, hydrated, and supple. These can also reduce inflammation that causes acne and redness.
Fatty fish are also sources of:
- Protein that maintains skin strength;
- Zinc, which regulates inflammation, skin cell production, and overall skin health; and
- Vitamin E, an antioxidant that protects the skin from damage caused by free radicals and inflammation.
Sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene, which helps keep skin healthy by acting as a natural sunblock, preventing sun damage such as sunburns, cell death, and dry, wrinkled skin. However, we do still recommend that you always wear SPF when spending time outdoors.
One half-cup serving (100 grams) of baked sweet potato provides enough beta-carotene to create around four times the recommended daily intake of vitamin A.
Rich in healthy fats, avocados help keep skin moisturized and flexible. Avocados are also a source of vitamins E and C, which protect skin from oxidative damage, along with compounds that protect skin from UV damage and signs of ageing.
Half an avocado (100 grams) provides 10% of the recommended daily intake for vitamin E and 17% for vitamin C.
Dark chocolate contains antioxidants that protect the skin from sun damage and prevent wrinkles. These antioxidants can also boost skin hydration, thickness, texture, and blood flow—which brings even more nutrients to the skin.
The recommended daily intake (RDI) for dark chocolate is 20 grams of high-antioxidant dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa.
Berries and Citrus Fruits
Berries, such as blueberries, and citrus fruits like lemons, oranges, and grapefruits, are rich in vitamin C. This antioxidant improves skin health and appearance by combating free radical damage and may reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
One cup of blueberries provides 25% of your RDI of vitamin C.
Seeds and Nuts
Both seeds and nuts contain nutrients that promote skin health.
One ounce (28 grams) of sunflower seeds contains the following (in RDI): 37% vitamin E, 32% selenium, 10% zinc, and 5.4 grams of protein.
Walnuts are rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. One ounce of walnuts also contains 4-5 grams of protein, vitamin E, vitamin C, selenium, and 6% zinc, which helps the skin function as a barrier, promote wound-healing, and combat bacteria and inflammation.
Leafy greens are full of carotene compounds, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, which hydrate and protect skin cells from damage.
Leafy greens include:
- Collard greens
- Romaine lettuce
- Bok choy
- Swiss chard
Dark Orange and Red Veggies
Dark orange and red veggies are rich in antioxidants and beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A and regulates cell production.
Bell peppers are another source of beta-carotene and vitamin C – important antioxidants that help protect the skin and create collagen to keep skin strong.
One cup of chopped red bell peppers contains 92% of the RDI for vitamin A., and a cup of bell peppers also provides 317% of the RDI for vitamin C.
Aim for three one-cup servings a day of dark orange and red veggies to enjoy the benefits of a fresh complexion.
Broccoli is rich in nutrients that promote skin health. These nutrients include:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Lutein—a carotenoid that protects the skin from oxidative damage that causes dry skin and wrinkles
- Sulforaphane—a powerful protector against sun damage, sunburn, and skin cancer
Tomatoes are a good source of vitamin C and also contain the major carotenoids, including beta-carotene, lutein, and lycopene, which protect the skin against sun damage and wrinkling.
Soy contains isoflavones, which can help improve skin elasticity and reduce fine lines and wrinkles. These may also improve skin dryness and collagen production while protecting the skin from UV radiation.
One palm-sized serving of lean meat or poultry per day can provide minerals, such as zinc and iron, for healthy skin functioning.
Red blood cells require iron to carry oxygen to the skin to provide nutrients and a healthy glow. And zinc contributes to cell production and cell sloughing, which reduces dullness.
Oysters also contain iron and zinc for a healthy, youthful glow. The recommended serving to get enough of these minerals is three oysters per day.
Sauerkraut, Kimchi, Yogurt
Fermented foods, like sauerkraut, kimchi, and yogurt, are full of probiotics that aid in digestion, gut health, and as a result, healthy-looking skin.
Low-fat yogurt is also high in vitamin A and acidophilus – the live bacteria that is good for both gut and skin health. And if you don’t consume dairy, try coconut yogurt instead.
Bone broth contains proteins and amino acids that promote collagen production and a healthy outward glow. Bone broth also heals your gut and delivers collagen to your hair, nails, and joints.
Herbs and Spices
Many herbs and spices have antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that help skin health, soothe redness, boost collagen and elasticity, and fight wrinkles. These include:
Drinks That Promote Healthy Skin
Try to drink at least eight glasses of water a day to keep your skin healthy and hydrated. Skin needs moisture to remain supple and flexible. So, even the slightest bit of dehydration can leave skin looking dry and tired.
Replace one or two glasses of water per day with coconut water, which is full of electrolytes, will help keep you and your skin even more hydrated.
Green tea contains powerful antioxidants called catechins that improve skin health in several ways, including:
- Protection against sun damage
- Reduced redness
- Improved moisture, elasticity, roughness, and thickness
Red wine contains the antioxidant resveratrol, which can reduce the effects of ageing by slowing down the production of free radicals that damage skin cells and cause signs of ageing. One glass of red wine per day is a healthy amount.
What you eat will affect the health of your skin. So, make sure to eat a balanced diet full of healthy foods rich in nutrients and antioxidants that will protect your skin, keeping it strong, supple, clear, and healthy.
Dr. Caroline Tosoni pursued her Medical Degree at McMaster University and completed her post-graduate medical residency in Family Medicine through the University of Ottawa in 1998. Fluently bilingual in French and English, she opened her medical practice in Ottawa in July of 1998. Since 2000, Dr. Tosoni has focused her medical practice on Cosmetic Dermatology and has received extensive training and obtained multiple certifications in various medical cosmetic enhancement procedures such as Phlebology, Botox® Cosmetic, Dermal Fillers, SoftLift,™ BeautiPhication,™ Belkyra injections, CoolSculpting,™ Cosmetic Dermatology and Aesthetic Laser Medicine. Dr. Caroline Tosoni is also proficient in the treatment of Hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating) and Migraine Headaches with Botox® Therapeutic. In 2015, Dr. Tosoni’s practice officially received a Focused Practice in Dermatology designation by the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care and the Ontario Medical Association.