If you eat right, your skin will show it. It’s as simple as that. But, sometimes it’s difficult to know where to start. Which foods damage your skin? Which foods will give you that year-round glow? Are you allergic to any foods? Do you have any food intolerances? All of these are questions you need to answer before diving into a diet that will give your skin that boost you’re looking for; but don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
“Anti-aging” is a craze in skincare, and it always has been. But, in reality, we’re not trying to avoid getting older, we’re trying to hang onto that youthful look that has become synonymous with health. You’re not looking for anti-aging, you’re looking for pro-healthy! If you want to know which foods to eat to maintain that dewy glow year round, which foods to avoid that cause dull, dry, damaged skin, you’re in the right place.
The foods you eat are directly correlated to how your skin looks. If you’re eating processed, high-sugar, low-nutrient foods, your skin isn’t going to look great. But which specific foods cause your skin to age and weather more quickly?
These common foods can cause damage to your skin:
Why are these foods so bad?
When it comes to sugars, processed foods, fried foods, artificial sweeteners and processed grains, it’s actually pretty simple. Simple carbohydrates (like white bread, soda and refined sugar) cause your insulin levels to soar. When you have a spike in insulin levels, that triggers an inflammatory response throughout your body, which can produce enzymes that break down elastin and collagen, which leads to saggy skin and wrinkles.
When it comes to caffeine, dehydration is the biggest issue. Drinking lots of coffee or other caffeinated beverages dehydrates your skin, which itself leads to inflammation. So, on top of inflammation triggering the breakdown of elastin and collagen, your skin is also dried out. This same principle applies to alcohol, which causes massive dehydration of the body and skin. We’re not implying you give up that cup of coffee or glass of wine at dinner, but we ARE encouraging you to vigorously rehydrate!
And, finally, dairy. Dairy is a bit controversial when it comes to its effects on the skin, as it really is different for every person. For many people, though, dairy causes inflammation that leads to acne and inevitably ages the skin. There is much speculation that hormones like progesterone and insulin make their way into dairy products via the hormones given to dairy cows, which are both triggers for inflammation and therefore might trigger a breakdown in skin-firming chemicals in your body.
How do food allergies and intolerances contribute to skin issues?
Many foods included on this list are known skin irritants. When your skin is irritated, whether from an allergy, intolerance, or otherwise irritating ingredient, it often triggers an inflammatory response. Not only can this result in broken down collagen and elastin, but can also cause other reactions, like acne. For many, a food intolerance or allergy can go undiagnosed for decades and resulting skin issues can be misdiagnosed and mistreated. When I learned that I had a dairy intolerance (which you can read about here!) and cut dairy out of my diet, the texture, firmness and appearance of my skin changed drastically. Many people struggle with similar situations with gluten, sugar, dairy, and ingredients in fried/processed foods.
Which foods can improve the health of your skin?
Just as unhealthy foods will strip your skin of its natural beauty, focusing on eating skin-nourishing foods will have visible results. Concentrating on incorporating foods that are high in certain vitamins and enzymes will benefit your skin in many ways, from clearing up age marks to preventing damage from UV rays. The following foods are known to make your skin GLOW:
Fatty fish & Omega 3s
Fatty fish contain Omega-3 Fatty Acids, which restore moisture and bounce to the skin. Not only can you find Omegas in fatty fish, you can also find them in vegetable oils, walnuts, and flaxseeds. They’re anti-inflammatory, which helps reduce inflammation on all levels of the skin, and can even help heal or reduce acne. High fat foods (when they’re the right fats) are great for your skin in general!
Almonds are super high in Vitamin E, which is a mega-antioxidant and stimulates the body’s production of collagen (your best friend when it comes to your skin’s appearance!). Vitamin E can help protect skin cells from damage and reduce the effects of aging on the skin.
Like almonds, avocados are also really high in Vitamin E, also helps eliminate toxins from the body. Unlike almonds, avocados are a monounsaturated fat, which helps nourish and renew the skin from the inside out. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: we LOVE healthy fats!
Sweet potatoes are a major source of Vitamin C, an ingredient that many dermatologists say is the holy grail of skincare. They’re high in beta-carotene, a compound that helps your body trigger the production of new skin cells. Sweet potatoes can help keep your skin looking and feeling healthy, and as a bonus they boost your immune system! A healthy body yields healthy skin.
Believe it or not, ONE bell pepper contains more than 100% of your daily Vitamin C needs. As I said before, Vitamin C just might be the holy grail of skincare. In addition, they’re rich in carotenoids, which help boost blood circulation and therefore the appearance and health of the skin. Other foods high in Vitamin C you can substitute if peppers aren’t your gig? Guava, pineapple, kiwi, papaya, oranges, lemons and grapefruit are all a fantastic source of Vitamin C, and looking good never tasted so good!
Tomatoes are great for reducing free-radicals that affect the appearance of the skin due to exposure to UV rays. In other words: if you’ve spend a little too much time in the sun and you’re seeing skin damage later in life as a result, incorporate some tomatoes into your diet!
Broccoli is a veggie that contains high amounts of both Vitamin C and Vitamin E. I’ve mentioned the benefits of both of these vitamins, but broccoli is a 2-for-1 and is full of both. This yummy veggie (that we LOVE to dip in hummus, and highly recommend you do, too!) can help trigger collagen production and protect your skin against UV damage.
According to Web MD, recent studies have shown green tea to protect against cancer, heart disease, and aid in weight loss. In addition to these, green tea is also being shown to ward off skin cancer and signs of premature aging. Bonus? It’s delicious, and a great substitute for coffee if you’re looking for a way to wake up in the morning that isn’t chock full of caffeine! Win-win-win!
How do I incorporate these skin-healthy foods into my diet?
Now, if you’re new to skin-healthy eating, you may be wondering: how do I incorporate these foods into my diet? Not to worry! Below are 15 of our favorite recipes that include these glow-inducing ingredients.