Dryness. Redness. Blemishes. Acne. Eczema. Hives. Psoriasis.
Healthy skin is a reflection of internal health. There are many creams and cosmetics to put on top of your skin. But, there are also lots of things you can do to nurture and nourish your skin to better health from the inside.
How better to do this than with food?
Your skin needs many nutrients: water, essential fats, vitamins, and amino acids.
Here are five foods, drinks and lifestyle tips I highly recommend if your goal is healthier-looking skin. As a bonus, I have included a short list of some key foods to consider avoiding.
Skin Food #1 - Water
No doubt hydration is key for healthy-looking skin! Water and other hydrating fluids are great to help your skin stay moist and supple. This seems like a no-brainer, but often times - especially during cooler months - we forget to drink! Dehydration is definitely linked with inflammation, poor digestion and overall skin health.
For a bit of an extra anti-inflammatory hydrating boost, try boosting your water with anti-inflammatory green tea (sugar-free if possible).
The main polyphenol compound in green tea (EGCG) is incredibly high in antioxidants, which has a whole range of health benefits. For the skin, it is effective at lowering sebum levels in the skin, which can clog pores and contribute to acne. As an extract, it can be used topically or orally to help reduce acne, androgenic alopecia, candida, warts and rosacea.
Skin Food #2 - Fish
Fish contains many nutrients important for skin health - omega-3s, and vitamins A and D to name a few. Omega-3s are anti-inflammatory to help cool the flames of inflammation. Vitamin A can help with blemishes and dryness, while vitamin D helps with skin tone.
Most dietary recommendations suggest you consume fish 3 to 4 times weekly to maintain good health. Those with inflammatory or autoimmune conditions may need to increase to 5 or 6 times weekly to meet specific nutritional needs as vitamins A, D and Omega 3s are common deficiencies in those with autoimmune.
Cod liver oil is a great way to boost the benefits of these micronutrients, especially if you have a hard time getting the recommended dose of seafood in your weekly diet. I like the Carlson brand and always recommend liquid over tablets.
Skin Food #3 - Bell peppers, citrus, and broccoli
Collagen is one of the most abundant proteins in our body. It’s also known to help our skin stay firm and supple. Vitamin C is necessary for your body to make collagen. So foods rich in vitamin C are great for your skin.
Cue: bell peppers, citrus, and broccoli.
FUN FACT: Overcooking vitamin C-rich foods can destroy some of the skin-supporting vitamins. So, try having these foods lightly steamed or raw for maximum vitamin C levels.
Skin Food #4 - Bone broth
Homemade bone broth contains a lot of the amino acid glycine. Glycine is another essential component of the skin protein collagen. Glycine helps speed the healing of the skin and the gut.
Did you know that you have internal skin and external skin? Each cell in your body has a lipid membrane that needs nourishment, plus the skin that lines your intestines requires nourishment also to help protect your immune system.
Skin “Food” #5 - Sleep more & stress less
I know these aren’t exactly foods, but they’re an important part of naturally great skin. When we don’t sleep enough, or stress too much our body flips on systems that affect our whole body… including our skin.
Stress hormones can increase inflammation and lead to not-so-healthy looking skin. Prioritize sleep and stress management, and you can see results in your life, and in your skin.
Watch out for these foods
Some foods can be allergenic or inflammatory and cause all sorts of issues in your body, including your skin.
It's hard to come up with one list of inflammatory or allergenic foods for everyone. Each person is biochemically unique, so you may have to go through this and see what applies to you. However, there are a few common allergens that may be a good bet to eliminate from your diet.
The first is processed foods. These are pretty much not-so-good for everyone. They can affect your health in so many ways, including how your skin looks & feels. Try ditching pre-packaged and fast foods in favour of whole foods as much as possible. Not just for your skin, for your whole body (and mind).
The second is gluten. While only a small number of people have serious reactions to gluten (i.e., celiac disease), many more people are intolerant to it. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and a few other grains. Many people have had several health concerns, including skin issues, clear up after eliminating gluten from their diets.
Third in line is dairy. It could be a hormonal response or even an insulin response. We don't quite know why, but many people who cut out dairy report better skin.
If you suspect certain foods may be triggering a skin reaction, try journaling your food and symptoms to help pinpoint your specific triggers.
Skin health is not just about what you put on your skin, but what your skin gets from the inside too. There are lots of important nutrients and foods to help support healthy skin. Which also means, that there are lots of foods that can affect your skin in negative ways as well.
Hydrating, eating nutrient dense whole foods, and avoiding common allergenic and inflammatory foods might make all the difference for you.
Do you have an awesome recipe or tips for people to eat more of these “skin-healthifying” foods? Let me know in the comments below.
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