Your skin is one of the most powerful indicators of overall well-being. When you see blemishes, dryness, rashes, sensitivity, and other problems, it could be a hint from your body that something you’re eating isn’t sitting right.
Like the other organs in your body, your skin is highly sensitive to the substances you feed it. Many of the common foods we eat — especially those that are highly-processed, refined, and/or loaded with sugar and artificial ingredients — promote harmful inflammation, oxidation, and accelerated cellular aging. If these foods aren’t removed from your daily nutrition, and if other healthier foods aren’t added in, then you may find your skin’s “problem areas” persist.
For a lot of us, when our skin is acting up it means consulting with a dermatologist, buying the latest face creams, or wearing a twice-weekly mask. But those strategies may not be enough to firm, tone, and even out our skin — and they may not actually be necessary at all.
Just like our nutrition habits can affect how our joints feel and how our body stores fat, what we eat can also impact our skin. So when you’re problem-solving your health, it’s a good practice to start on the inside before trying to change or improve the outside. Even the highest quality and most expensive skin and beauty products can’t outwork poor nutrition.
10 Top Foods for Clear Skin and Better Health
While changing the way you eat may not be a cure-all for those little imperfections you haven’t yet learned to love, making the change to a cleaner diet will definitely help. Fortunately, there has been plenty of research identifying certain foods that offer skin-healthy benefits. So, to accentuate and maintain your natural beauty, make sure you add plenty of the following foods to your diet:
1. Coconut Oil
This incredible oil can help firm and moisturize your skin because it’s rich in fatty acids, which support your body’s natural collagen production. Coconut oil is also a powerful antioxidant that fights against wrinkle-causing free radicals. An added bonus: this is one of those rare foods that is just as good on your skin as it is for your skin. Try using a bit of unrefined, virgin coconut oil as a moisturizer. Just be mindful of getting it in fabric and remember that a little goes a long way.
The standard American diet is severely lacking in omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for healthy skin cell function. Walnuts are a great source of omega-3s, which have been shown to improve skin elasticity and reduce inflammation associated with redness and skin irritation.
Your skin needs vitamins and minerals to stay firm and healthy. This dark leafy vegetable is a potent and delicious source of vitamins C and A, both have which been shown to help minimize the signs of aging. Kale is also an excellent source of lutein and zeaxanthin, two nutrients that help fight free radicals created in your body when exposed to UV radiation from the sun. Of course, just about all colorful veggies can offer some skin-healthy benefits. Carrots and yellow bell peppers are two other favorites.
Research suggests that regularly eating herbs, especially rosemary and thyme, can reduce your risk of skin cancer. In addition to having tons of antioxidants and minerals, rosemary also contains salicylic acid (a compound found in many popular acne-fighting products), which can help promote longevity and reduce inflammation.
5. Olive Oil
This oil seems to be the elixir of health. Used for centuries and studied for almost as long, olive oil has been shown to slow or decrease the signs of aging in people who consume at least two teaspoons per day. It’s high in monounsaturated fats and polyphenols (a type of antioxidant), both of which help improve the health and appearance of your skin.
6. Grass-fed Beef
In our household, we choose grass-fed whenever possible because it’s not just better for the cow, it’s better for you, too. Quality sources of beef offer some of the best protein around, a macronutrient that is important for synthesizing collagen and elastin, the parts of your skin that give it that firm and toned look.
Pumpkins are one of the most potent natural sources of beta-carotene, which is transformed by your body into vitamin A. This vitamin is key for stimulating specialized cells called fibroblasts to synthesize and grow new skin cells, which can keep you looking smooth and youthful.
The gorgeous purple-blue hue of this berry is attributed to a group of compounds called anthocyanins. These are powerful antioxidants that can fight free radicals and prevent premature aging of your skin. Blueberries are also vitamin and mineral rich, making this super fruit especially beneficial for skin and cellular repair. Other honorable mentions from the fruit category include kiwis and oranges.
Tomatoes are known for containing high amounts of the antioxidant lycopene, which has been scientifically shown to help reduce skin damage caused by UV radiation and may even increase your body’s natural SPF. Your skin will also love the vitamins and minerals present in this versatile food, including vitamins A, E, C, and B6. For an extra dose of skin-healing benefits, try some tomatoes drizzled with olive oil and rosemary.
Zinc is an important mineral that contributes to skin cell repair and regeneration. Oysters offer a huge amount of zinc, along with vitamins A, B12, and C. Other skin-healthy seafood options include salmon, mackerel, and sardines, all of which contain high amounts of those much-needed omega-3 fatty acids.
Also: Eliminate Any Offenders
Do you have adolescents or teenagers in the house who struggle with acne and other skin problems? Be sure to share this information with them, too. You may be amazed at how much better their skin will look by making just a few simple changes to the foods they eat. This may include adding some of the above foods and removing certain other foods (like dairy and sugar-filled processed foods) known to cause or exacerbate acne, eczema, psoriasis, and other skin conditions.
And Don’t Forget to Hydrate
Lastly, we can’t talk about skin health without mentioning water. Drinking a sufficient amount of water is probably the single best thing you can do to improve the appearance of your skin in as little as one day hours. For a basic prescription, aim to drink at least one third of your body weight in fluid ounces per day. So, if you weigh 150 pounds, drink fifty ounces of water. You may need more if you are highly active.
But most of all, just remember — gorgeous, youthful, healthy looking skin starts on the inside and your daily nutrition habits make a huge difference.