As we age, choosing foods for healthy skin is critical. No one wants to look older than their chronological years but with age, your body stops producing some compounds as effectively. The result is drier, brittle skin that shows the years you have (and a few you don’t).
Your body’s biggest organ requires specific nutrients to stay hydrated, guard you from the sun, to produce collagen, and reduce inflammation.Your skin requires specific nutrients to stay hydrated, guard you from the sun, and reduce inflammation. #SkinHealthClick To Tweet
9 Awesome Skin-Healthy Foods
1. Zucchini: Squash and pumpkin are fantastic foods for healthy skin. Technically a fruit, zucchini is an inexpensive, readily available, and effective way to feed (and hydrate) your skin without a lot of calories. It’s a great source of lutein and zeaxanthin, which are powerful anti-aging nutrients that mop up free radicals caused by sun damage, improve skin tone, and protect against UV rays.
Naturally anti-inflammatory, zucchini is also rich in vitamin C and riboflavin. Your skin contains high levels of vitamin C in multiple layers and deficiency in riboflavin is associated with rapid aging. To produce collagen, your body requires vitamin C, potassium, folate, and zeaxanthin…all of which are found in the humble zucchini.
2. Dark Chocolate: It’s decadent, delicious, and oh-so-good for you! The powerful antioxidants in cacao hydrate skin, boost circulation, offer natural UV protection, and repair dryness.
Some studies have found that consumption of dark chocolate helps minimize the appearance of wrinkles and hydrates tissue from the inside out. It reduces the signs of puffiness and makes skin glow when applied topically. On the plus side, it’s great for your heart and mood!
3. Fermented Foods (Probiotics): If you really want healthy, glowing skin, you need to love your gut. Your internal ecosystem of beneficial bacteria works to balance your bodily systems and keep things running smoothly. As your biggest organ, your skin gets as much good stuff from probiotics as the rest of you.
The key to a thriving microbiome is diversity and quantity. You want a lot of these healthy gut flora, in many different species. At any given time, you’re a host to as many as 1,000 distinct species of microbiota and that’s a very good thing!
To get the right mix of live cultures, include fermented foods in your diet. The best way to get them is kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, kimchi, miso, pickles, and (of course) yogurt. When you bring your gut in balance, it shows on every inch of you.
4. Green Tea: If you’re not already including green tea in your diet, the anti-inflammatory boost the catechins provide for your skin are a great reason to start. The Journal of Nutrition published a study that found 12 weeks of green tea consumption daily (one cup) improved skin texture and elasticity, protected skin from UV damage by 25%, and improved circulation to the face. A study in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry found that green tea showed strong anti-skin cancer properties and slows (and may even reverse) the effects of skin damage from the sun.
Add a squeeze of lemon to your green tea to help your body digest it more slowly and boost the overall effects. Drinking it hot is when the antioxidants are most active.
5. Olive Oil: A higher consumption of olive oil (2 teaspoons per day) reduced the physical signs of aging by more than 30% in 1,200 women who participated in a PLOS ONE study. The monounsaturated fats and polyphenols are believed to be the source of the benefits.
Naturally antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, olive oil is one of the best good fats for your body (inside and out). This food for healthy skin, hair, and heart can be consumed or applied topically as a skin moisturizer and deep conditioner.
6. Tomatoes: To boost protection against UV rays that lead to dry, damaged skin, add these carotenoid powerhouses to your diet! They don’t have to be fresh – cooked and canned tomatoes have even more antioxidants – to boost your skin’s natural sun protection. They’re a great source of vitamin C, lutein, lycopene, and beta-carotene.
Carotenoids are fat soluble. That means they’re absorbed better when coupled with a food containing good fat. An excellent choice is olive oil or avocado (another great food for healthy skin). Dice up the veggies, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with a bit of sea salt for a refreshing side salad.
7. Fatty Fish: Wild-caught salmon, sardines, oysters, herring, mackerel, and tuna are excellent skin health foods bursting with essential omega-3 fatty acids. The anti-inflammatory benefits of omega-3 are well documented by hundreds of studies and many skin conditions (such as acne, rosacea, lupus, and psoriasis) have inflammation as a primary bio-marker.
Sardines have the highest concentration of omega-3, oysters are an outstanding source of zinc that aids new skin cell growth, and mackerel is packed with B12 vitamins that have been shown to improve skin tone. All of them are great sources of vitamin E and quality protein.
8. Mushrooms: Naturally anti-inflammatory mushrooms such as kombucha, reishi, and shiitake are the perfect foods for healthy skin. They’re rich in vitamin D and selenium and have been used in medicinal and beauty applications for thousands of years.
Kombucha mushrooms are fermented with black tea and when applied to the skin, this natural beauty helper slows down the glycation process (sugar binding to collagen). It plumps up the fatty layer beneath your skin to provide a supple, smooth texture. It also helps even out skin tone and minimize the appearance of fine lines.
9. Leafy Greens: Kale, spinach, and broccoli provide lutein, zeaxanthin, zinc, vitamin C, vitamin A, and other essential vitamins and minerals that mop up free radicals caused by excessive sun exposure. The sulforaphane compound in broccoli is particularly powerful against UV rays – providing you natural sun protection from the inside.
In fact, one cup of broccoli florets offer skin protection for as much as two days and lower the rate of skin cells destroyed in sunlight. Adding these dark, leafy greens to your diet makes sense for your skin, heart, and brain!
Some fabulous “runner up” healthy skin foods are walnuts, red wine, oatmeal, pomegranates, red and yellow peppers, sunflower seeds, carrots, avocados, sweet potatoes, and strawberries.
Try products right for you (not too many at the same time) but don’t give up on them too quickly. It can take 6 weeks to 3 months to see results. Skin renews itself every 30 days (when fresh cells get to the surface) and collagen rebuilding takes 90 days or more. Be patient!
Three tips to love your skin…
1. Develop a daily skin routine. Using the right cleansers and moisturizers for your skin type is crucial but don’t forget to finish the job before bed by removing makeup and moisturizing again.
2. Protect your skin from too much sun exposure. Natural sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, or shade are all things to consider if you’re spending hours outside.
3. Don’t forget the rest of you! While the face receives lots of attention, your neck, shoulders, chest, arms, hands, and elbows need sun protection and moisturizing, too!
The importance of water and sleep cannot be emphasized enough. A good rule of thumb is half an ounce of water per pound of bodyweight and eight hours a night. Keeping your skin rested, protected, and hydrated is what makes all the difference.
It’s never too early or too late to make skin care a priority!Hydration and sleep cannot be emphasized enough. Take care of your skin now so you won't have to worry later. #FactsClick To Tweet
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Grumman, R. (2017). 5 Foods for Healthy Skin. Health.com.
Taylor Jones, R. (2017). The 12 Best Foods for Healthy and Beautiful Skin. Authority Nutrition.
Kozolchyk, A. (2017). The Good-Skin Diet: 10 Foods for Healthier Skin. Fitness Magazine.
Gaynes, S. (2017). The Perfect Skin Diet. Women’s Health.
Tadimalla, R., & Tadimalla, R. (2017). 21 Amazing Benefits Of Zucchini For Skin, Hair, And Health. STYLECRAZE.
Baumann, L. (2017). Mushrooms are magical for your skin. Miamiherald.
10 Healthiest Fermented Foods & Vegetables – Dr. Axe. (2017). Dr. Axe.