Can Changing Your Diet Improve Your Skin?
We all know food fuels your body, but did you know it fuels your skin, too? If you experience dull, dry, irritated skin or even oiliness and acne, you may wonder whether there is a solution. While environmental and physiological factors are partly to blame, your diet plays a big role in skin health.
If you have troubled skin, all hope is not lost. Yes, it can be frustrating, but there's no need to freak out. While you may not be able to change your biological makeup or environment, your diet is completely under your control. There are steps you can take today to see healthier, brighter skin over time. And the answer to your skin woes may be hiding right in your fridge.
Knowing you have some control over the condition of your skin can help you breathe a sigh of relief. And hey, stress relief is great for achieving a healthy glow, too! So, which foods are best for your skin? Let's chat.
Best Foods to Increase Skin Hydration
Hydrated skin is happy skin. If you suffer from the telltale signs of dehydration (think tightness, flaking, irritation and redness), adding water and omega 3s to your diet can help. Here are some suggestions:
Your skin is like a shield. It protects against environmental factors like sun, pollution, and irritants, also known as free radicals. Hydrated skin is strong and healthy, and water is essential for skin to perform optimally. Think of your skin like a star athlete. It needs to stay hydrated to win the game! Without enough water, skin becomes dry, dull, and prone to irritation. With a strong moisture barrier, skin protects itself more efficiently, which in turn helps your complexion look nice and healthy.
Experts have long recommended eight glasses of H2O per day, so it's a good idea to start there. You can also get water fix from food, especially fruits and veggies. Drinking even just 500ml of water (about two full glasses) improves blood flow to capillaries. What do capillaries have to do with skin, you ask? A whole lot, in fact. Capillaries deliver nutrients and oxygen to skin, remove cellular waste, and speed -up wound healing. All necessary things for gorgeous skin. :)
Water is key to a glowing complexion. But, did you know there are other ways to improve skin hydration? Eating omega 3s are proven to increase skin's moisture levels. Fatty fish like salmon are packed with omega 3s, and are a healthy addition to your diet.
Not a fish eater? Try cod liver oil or fish oil supplements. Eating fresh fish is best, but these are an easy and practical alternative. Flaxseeds are also rich in omega 3. Add flax to salads, yogurt, granola mix, and cereal for a super tasty (and healthy!) crunch. Flaxseed oil also comes in supplement form.
Best Vitamins for Healthy Skin
Like water and omega 3s, vitamins can improve the look of your skin. Adding nutrients to your meals can boost your natural glow and optimize skin health. Skin loves foods that are rich in vitamins A, C, and E. Fresh fruit and vegetables are the best way to boost vitamins and antioxidants into your diet. Strawberries, for example, are loaded with vitamin C, which helps to build collagen while nuts and flaxseeds contain high levels of vitamin E, which nourishes and protects the skin from damage caused by free radicals.
Dark leafy vegetables are also high in vitamin A, C, and antioxidants. Bored with basic salad? Think outside the box! Try spinach leaves with chopped hard-boiled egg, olive oil, and bacon bits — so easy and delicious. For sandwiches, skip the iceberg lettuce in favor of darker greens.
If you want to supercharge your diet in the easiest way possible, fresh smoothies may be the answer. You can get tons of skin-friendly nutrients in just one glass. We get it, you're busy! Smoothies are great for days when you don't have time for a full breakfast; you can drink one in the car on your way to work or school.
Best Foods to Reduce Skin Inflammation
Sensitive skin types, often identified by a red, inflamed, or an uneven complexion, can benefit from diet changes. To calm sensitive skin, bring on the omega 3s and antioxidants!
Selenium is a mineral with antioxidant properties, which helps improve skin health.8 Cashews, for example, are full of selenium while foods like oranges, broccoli, and tomato are high in antioxidants, too. Green tea is a notorious antioxidant drink that promotes calmer, healthier skin. A 2011 study, in fact, found that drinking green tea boosts oxygen and circulation to the skin, which can give you that healthy glow you've been searching for.
Omega 3s have anti-inflammatory properties, too. Again, look to fatty, cold water fish, or drizzle olive oil on salads and sandwiches for maximum benefit.
Flavonoids, phytonutrients that can be found in most – if not all – fruits and vegetables, act as an anti-inflammatory for skin. Wild blueberries are a popular selection and can kickstart your dose of flavonoids. Dark chocolate is another great example, but we recommend skipping this one if you have acne -prone skin — more on that later!
Best Foods to Decrease Excess Oil Production
Oily skin can be uncomfortable, especially if you find yourself shying away from photos because the flash leaves you looking greasy.
Although genetics and pore size play a role in how much oil skin produces, there are dietary changes you can make to reduce sebum production. Vitamin B5 has been linked to oil control; you need to eat about 2.2 grams to see the effect based on 2014 research study. Avocados, meat, and fish are just some examples of foods high in B5, while shiitake mushrooms have tons of B5. Toss some in a stir fry, or try a grilled kebab with meat and shiitake for a double whammy. Since it's a water-soluble vitamin, eating too much won't harm you.
Studies also link oily skin with linoleic acid deficiency, which can cause eczema and psoriasis flare-ups. Linoleic Acid, or Vitamin F, is an Oomega 6 fatty acid produced naturally in the body and found in high concentration among sunflower seeds, perilla seed oil, tofu, walnuts, and flaxseed.Try sprinkling some on salad or just add your favorite seeds to soup, smoothies, or desserts.
Best and Worst Foods for Acne
Let's talk about chocolate. Scientists once claimed chocolate caused acne, but in the 90s many studies reversed this claim. As of the 2000s, new research once again suggests chocolate and acne are linked.3 The jury is still out on chocolate, but if you have acne, it's probably best to avoid eating it for now.
If you have acne, eating zinc is a smart move. Aim for 8-11mg of zinc per day. Sesame seeds, red meat, and squash are all high in zinc.
We've mentioned fish oil a few times in this article, so hopefully you're getting the idea that it is great for skin! Adding fresh fish to your diet can help fight acne, while fish oil also looks promising for acne treatment.
Wondering what foods to avoid if you are prone to blemishes? Sugar, milk, refined carbs, and saturated fat foods can all be triggers. Taking a break from processed foods, fatty meats, and especially dairy may help clear up your skin.
Creating a Skin Care Game Plan
Now that you know what foods to eat, you'll need a plan. It's not enough to say that you'll start eating healthier; if you want to see real change in skin condition, you must commit!
Sound daunting? Rule number one is to not get overwhelmed. You don't have to change your whole diet tomorrow. Take baby steps. When you have a goal, the best way to achieve lasting change is to make small changes over time.
Now, let's make this fun! Set a small weekly challenge for yourself. For example, this week challenge yourself to drink eight glasses of water per day. If you use a planner for work or school, jot down a reminder to drink water each day. The simple act of putting your goal in writing can help you feel more committed.
The first few days, it may seem like you're forcing it, but by the end of the week it will start to come naturally. That's the funny thing about habits: the more you repeat something, the more it becomes ingrained in you.
Made it through week one? You got this! Next week, try another easy food challenge. Keep drinking water and add another small food goal.
You can set yourself up for success by making things as easy and convenient as possible. Healthy snacks are a simple way to improve your skin game plan. Mixed nuts, seaweed or kale chips, and dried fruit are easy to nosh on-the-go and work great as toppings. And don't forget those breakfast smoothies!
If you want to transform dull, troublesome skin into a radiant, healthy complexion, changing your diet is a smart first step. Results won't happen overnight, of course. Practice patience and pat yourself on the back for every change you implement. With consistency and a few simple dietary changes, you will see skin improvement over time. What will you eat today to improve your skin?
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