The Healthy Skin Diet
We’ve said this before and you’ve probably heard it a million times from others, too; diet is everything!
Your skin tweaking out? What did you eat?
Painful fibromyalgia flare-ups? How much sugar have you been consuming lately?
Headache? How much water did you drink today?
Constipated? Are you eating enough fiber?
Everything circles back to diet especially when it comes to skin conditions but of course, there are external factors like stress, lack of sleep, smoking and more. Skin is the body’s largest organ. When healthy, its layers work hard to protect us but when it’s compromised, the skin’s ability to work as an effective barrier is impaired which makes it easier for bacteria and irritants to penetrate the skin.
So, what can we do to keep our skin protected, happy and healthy at times?
Start With Eating a Balanced Diet
Didn’t come as a surprise, did it? But get this, there is a multi-billion dollar industry dedicated to products that keep skin always looking best and also which aim to fight first signs of aging. However, it’s important to note that moisturizers only go skin deep and aging develops at a deeper, cellular level. So, what now?
Well, here’s where your diet comes into play. What you eat is just as important as the products that you put on your skin. Your diet can help improve your skin health from the inside out, which basically means that a clear complexion begins with eating a healthy diet.
Load Up On That Fatty Fish
Omega-3 fatty acids are necessary to help keep skin thick, supple, and moisturized. Fact is, omega-3 fatty acid deficiency can cause dry skin. The omega-3 fats in fish are extremely helpful in reducing inflammation, which can cause redness and acne. They can even make your skin less sensitive to the sun’s harmful UV rays!
According to PubMed.gov, some studies show that fish oil supplements may help fight inflammatory and autoimmune conditions affecting your skin, such as psoriasis and lupus. Fatty fish is also a source of vitamin E, which is one of the most important antioxidants for your skin. Getting enough vitamin E is essential for helping protect your skin against damage from free radicals and inflammation.
This type of seafood is also a source of high quality protein, which is needed for maintaining the strength and integrity of your skin.
Fish also provides zinc, which is a mineral vital for regulating:
● Overall skin health
● Production of new skin cells
Zinc deficiency can lead to skin inflammation, lesions, and delayed wound healing.
Avocuddle with Avocados
The healthy fats in avocados benefit many bodily functions, including the health of your skin. Getting enough of these fats is essential to help keep skin flexible and moisturized. Avocados are a great source of vitamin E, which is an important antioxidant that helps protect your skin from oxidative damage.
But did you know that vitamin E is more effective when combined with vitamin C?
Yep, that’s right! Vitamin C is also extremely important for healthy skin. Your skin needs it to create collagen, which is the main structural protein that keeps your skin strong and healthy. And here’s how you can tell if you’re lacking vitamin C; lack of vitamin C causes dry, rough and scaly skin that tends to bruise easily. Just like vitamin E, vitamin C is also an antioxidant that helps protect your skin from oxidative damage caused by the sun and the environment, which can lead to signs of aging.
“A 100-gram serving, or about 1/2 an avocado, provides 14% of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin E and 11% of the DV for vitamin C” - USDA
Broccoli Ain’t That Boring No More
Believe it or not, broccoli is full of many vitamins and minerals important for skin health, including zinc, vitamin A, and vitamin C. It also contains lutein, which helps protect your skin from oxidative
Oxidative damage can cause your skin to become dry and wrinkled and you really don’t want that happening!
Dark Chocolatey Goodness
As if we needed another reason to eat chocolate, right? The effects of cocoa on your skin are pretty phenomenal.
“After 6–12 weeks of consuming a cocoa powder high in antioxidants each day, participants in one study experienced thicker, more hydrated skin. Their skin was also less rough and scaly, less sensitive to sunburn, and had better blood flow — which brings more nutrients to your skin.” - PubMed.gov
However, always be sure to choose dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa as it may actually be good for your skin. Other Studies have found that cocoa's flavonols (a potent type of antioxidant) may ward off wrinkles, improve skin elasticity, and even protect skin from UV damage.
Also, keep in mind that chocolate is high in calories, so treat yourself to about 1 oz a day.
Now that you know which foods are really good for you and your skin, let’s look at foods that are terrible for your skin. Starting with refined grains and sugars!
Refined Grains And Sugars
Consuming lots of refined carbohydrates can cause acne. Now that we have your attention, let’s look at why that is.
“Refined carbohydrates are absorbed quickly into the bloodstream, which rapidly raises blood sugar levels. When blood sugars rise, insulin levels also rise to help shuttle the blood sugars out of the bloodstream and into your cells.” - Healthline
And high levels of insulin are not good for anybody in general, but especially bad for those with acne. Insulin makes androgen hormones more active and increases insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). This contributes to acne development by making skin cells grow more quickly and by boosting sebum production.
Foods rich in refined carbohydrates include:
● Bread, crackers, cereal or desserts made with white flour
● Pasta made with white flour
● White rice and rice noodles
● Sodas and other sugar-sweetened beverages
● Sweeteners like cane sugar, maple syrup, honey or agave
Next time you hold a donut in your hand, ask yourself, “Is this really worth a pimple?”
There’s a reason why the majority of people these days are making an active choice of switching to plant based milk options like oat, milk, cashew, rice, coconut, etc. Apart from the dairy products these days containing tons of artificial hormones that are terrible for our bodies, studies have also found a link between dairy and acne.
Milk is known to increase insulin levels, independent of its effects on blood sugar, which may worsen acne severity. Cow’s milk also contains amino acids that stimulate the liver to produce more IGF-1, which has been linked to the development of acne.
Although there is speculation on why drinking milk may worsen acne, it is unclear whether dairy plays a direct role. More research is needed to determine if there is a specific amount or type of dairy that may aggravate acne.
Our recommendation to you would be to keep note of your skin and any visible changes when you consume dairy products.
Foods Rich in Omega-6 Fats
Diets containing large amounts of omega-6 fatty acids have been linked to increased levels of inflammation and acne.
When you consume large amounts of corn and soy oils, which are rich in omega-6 fats, and few foods that contain omega-3 fats, like fish and walnuts, your skin automatically starts tweaking out. This imbalance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids pushes the body into an inflammatory state, which may worsen acne severity. Supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids may reduce levels of inflammation and has been found to reduce acne severity.
The bottom line is, while research has linked certain foods to increased risk of inflammation and developing acne, it is important to keep the bigger picture in mind. Overall dietary patterns are likely to have a larger impact on skin health than eating — or not eating — any one particular food.
It is probably not necessary to completely avoid all the foods that have been linked to acne but rather consume them in balance with the other nutrient-dense foods discussed above. It may be beneficial to keep a food log to look for patterns between the foods you are eating and the health of your skin.
You can also work with a registered dietitian for more personalized advice.
Hydration Is Key
So, after all the do’s and don’ts, there’s one thing that you should and must do. And that’s drinking a lot of water!
The adult human body is 60% water and your blood is 90% water. Drinking water benefits the whole body in a million ways. From flushing out toxins to preventing acne and giving you glowing skin, water is definitely a miracle drink!
When you drink at least 3 litres of water every day, the cells in every part of your body get hydrated through the blood. The skin, being the largest organ in the body, also gets hydrated, even as the impurities and toxins get flushed out at the cellular level.
Drinking a good amount of water everyday:
● Improves skin tone
● Prevents premature aging
● Increases healing process
● `Reduces puffiness
● Prevents acne
● Maintains your skin’s pH balance
● Promotes gut health, which basically means clearer skin!
If it takes a lot out of you to drink plain water everyday, you can add the following in your water:
● Or any other fruit and herbs of your choice!
The Clear-Skin Eating Plan
Lastly, if your complexion could choose everything you ate for the day, here's what would be on the menu, according to NYC-based dietitian, Keri Gans, R.D.
● 1 cup whole-grain, fortified cereal
● 1 cup nut milk (like almond)
● 1 cup sliced strawberries or 1 medium grapefruit
● 1 cup Revert Tea
● Grilled chicken sandwich
○ 5 oz chicken breast
○ 2 slices whole-grain bread
○ 2 slices tomato
○ 1 leaf lettuce
○ 1/8 of avocado
○ 1 tsp mustard
● 1 medium apple
● 5 oz wild salmon
● Spinach salad
○ 2 cups fresh spinach
○ 1/2 cup sliced red bell pepper
○ 1/2 cup chopped tomato
○ 1/2 cup broccoli
○ Toss with 1 tbsp each olive oil and balsamic vinegar
● 1 medium baked sweet potato Snacks/dessert
● 8 oz non-fat plain yogurt or 1 part-skim string cheese
● 1 oz sunflower seeds
● 1 small orange or 1 cup baby carrots
● 1 oz dark chocolate or 1 glass of red wine
So, now that you’re all clued up on why you might be suddenly breaking out or why your skin is looking dull or feeling dehydrated, it’s time for you to go grocery shopping for healthy, sugar-free foods. Don’t forget to fill up your water bottle first then pay it forward and share this article!