What you eat is extremely important to the look and texture of your skin. You are what you eat, as they say–and it’s true. Your diet has a big effect–you can see big changes in the quality of your complexion based on what you eat.
Like every other part of your body, your skin benefits from a well-balanced diet that limits processed foods, salt and artificial ingredients. In general a diet that’s full of whole grains, fresh produce, and lean meats will contain antioxidants–which are needed to fight free radicals that can damage tissue–and your skin.
You’ve heard it time and again, but water is essential to good health and healthy-looking skin. It hydrates your skin and flushes out toxins, and water is required to regenerate skin cells. When you’re not getting enough water, your skin can look dull, saggy and lifeless.
If you’re dieting for weight loss, you may decide to cut out fats and oils from your diet. While it’s good to limit greasy foods, your body requires some fat to function properly. Yes it’s true that when you’re loading up on french fries you may tend to break out, but it’s not good to have a completely fat-free diet. Unsaturated fats are the ones that are considered ‘good’ fats. Your skin needs the good kind of fat–it strengthens cell membranes, which translates into firmer and suppler skin. Fat also helps your body absorb antioxidants and fat-soluble vitamins.
So where do you find these “good” fats? Nuts and olive oil are great sources. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in salmon, walnuts and flaxseed oil. Omega-3 not only helps keep skin smooth, these fatty acids are also beneficial for heart health. Heart health means good circulation–and chances are you’ll have a clearer complexion if your blood is circulating like it should. Omega-3s also lessen irritation and redness, along with providing better-hydrated skin. They attract water to skin cells to plump up the skin and reduce wrinkles.
Avoiding refined grains and sugars can help make your skin look more radiant. A diet rich in those types of processed foods is correlated to a higher level of the stress hormone cortisol. And stress tends to have a double-whammy on your complexion–it causes breakouts and wrinkles. Whole grains, on the other hand, are packed with antioxidants. Levels of the body’s natural antioxidants decrease with age, so adding them to your diet becomes even more important as you grow older.
Vegetarian diets and loading up on fruits and vegetables is good for your skin, but if you sacrifice protein, that can be detrimental.You need protein to build the collagen that keeps your skin young and firm looking. So if you’re going vegan, make sure you’re still getting your protein. Nuts, green peas and grains like quinoa will give you the protein that your skin needs. Milk and cheese are also good sources of protein.
Listed below are vitamins, minerals and trace elements that will help your skin’s appearance, as well as the foods that contain them.
Omega-6 fatty acids (found in safflower oil) keep cell walls supple, so that water penetrates the skin.
Folate in leafy greens like spinach can repair and maintain DNA—basically bolstering your cells’ ability to renew themselves.
Lycopene, which is contained in tomatoes, helps eliminate skin-aging. It combats
free radicals caused by being in the sun. Tomato sauce is especially high in lycopene,
Selenium is contained in tuna–it helps preserve elastin, a protein that keeps your skin smooth and tight.
Lutein promotes softer, firmer, and better-hydrated skin and protects against UV rays. Eggs are a good source of lutein.
Vitamin A helps with skin regeneration–you’ll find it in romaine lettuce, carrots, and almonds.
Vitamin C (along with protein) is essential to collagen production, and found in sweet potatoes, citrus fruit, hot peppers and tomatoes. Sweet potoaes are also high in Vitamin A and beta-carotene–another antioxidant that fights aging.
Vitamin E, which is found in almonds helps prevents sun damage.
Flavonols–the antioxidants in dark chocolate–smooth the skin and protect against sun damage.
The zinc that you’ll find in oysters helps fight blemishes and aids in skin cell repair.
Green tea is a great source of antioxidants and has been shown to reverse sun damage.
The bottom line is that you can have more youthful-looking skin if you pay attention to what you eat. Some vitamins, minerals and nutrients can even help reverse the damage that sun or other habits have wreaked on your skin. Replace those salty snacks and processed foods that are full of chemicals with whole grains and fruits and vegetables. Your skin will thank you for it!