Whether you have only minor skin concerns or you’re trying to manage acne, eczema, sensitive skin, or other skin health issues, the right diet can ensure you achieve and maintain your skin health goals. According to Dr. Caitlin Farmer of U.S. Dermatology Partners’ Center for Dermatology in Flower Mound and Plano, Texas, “While diet isn’t necessarily the most important aspect of maintaining healthy skin, it does play a role. Your dermatologist can help you to determine the best foods to include in your particular diet to achieve healthy skin.” In this blog, Dr. Farmer walks through the top ten best foods to include in your diet for healthier skin.
How Does Food Impact Skin Health?
The link between skin health and diet is actually a hot topic. While specific foods or dietary preferences may not be as directly related to skin health as many of us believe, the old adage, “You are what you eat,” is still true to an extent. The body needs nutrients derived from our diets to keep all of the organs and systems of our bodies functioning correctly, so eating the right foods can definitely impact the health of the whole body, including the skin. Eating a healthy diet can be especially impactful on skin health because, even though it’s the largest organ of the body, the skin often receives vitamins and other essential nutrients after other more essential organs and systems. For this reason, people are more likely to have pale coloring, dry patches, and sores on the skin when they’re sick. At the end of the day, the healthier your body is, the healthier your skin will be, so choose foods that will keep your whole body healthy.
About diet and skin health, Dr. Farmer says, “Everyone’s skin health is different, and the way skin responds to certain foods differs from person to person. Working with a dermatologist to monitor your response and determine the foods or beverages that frequently cause concerns is essential.”
Top 10 Skin Healthy Foods
When it comes to a perfect skin health diet, Dr. Farmer recommends, “First and foremost, every person has different nutritional needs. You should always work with a physician or dietician before dramatically changing your diet. However, incorporating more nutrient-rich foods that can benefit the skin is a healthy choice for just about anyone.” If you’re interested in adjusting your diet for better skin health, consider starting with more of Dr. Farmer’s top ten skin healthy foods:
1 – You Can’t Overdo Orange & Yellow Fruits & Vegetables
When it comes to orange and yellow fruits and vegetables like carrots, mango, cantaloupe, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes, there’s no such thing as too much of a good thing. These fruits and veggies are great sources of vitamin C and A, carotenoids and other antioxidants as well as magnesium, offering numerous skin health benefits. Vitamin C is used by the body to create collagen, which gives skin its youthful fullness and firmness. Vitamin A is known as a great topical ingredient to increase cell turnover, which improves skin’s tone and texture. Nutritionally, the vitamin has been linked to a reduction in sebum oil production that can be great for people with acne-prone or oily skin. Yellow and orange fruits and vegetables are high in carotenoids and other antioxidants that help to prevent damage from UVA/B sun damage and keep skin healthier and more moisturized. Finally, orange and yellow fruits and vegetables are often a good source of magnesium, which helps to relax the body for improved sleep and decreased muscle and joint discomfort.
2 – Love Your Leafy Greens
Spinach, collard greens, kale, and other leafy green vegetables are great for your skin and body, offering many health benefits. Leafy greens contain numerous vitamins, and they’re rich in antioxidants that promote healthy cell turnover and diminish the damaging effects of UV rays. Some studies indicate that eating leafy greens regularly may actually reduce the risk for developing skin cancer.
3 – Fill Up on Vitamin C-rich Fruits & Vegetables
Vitamin C is an antioxidant. That means it fights off damage from the free radicals that attack the skin following sun exposure. Diets rich in vitamin C can help reduce the risk for sunburn, age spots, and wrinkles. Many of those orange and yellow fruits and vegetables we mentioned are high in vitamin C. Some of the other vitamin C-rich foods you should consider adding to your skin healthy diet include kiwis, guava, blueberries, red peppers, and strawberries.
4 – Load up on Legumes
Legumes, a category that includes a variety of foods like peas, beans, lentils, and peanuts, are a great source of zinc, which has healing properties that help fight acne and other inflammatory skin conditions.
5 – Horde the Healthy Fats
Fatty fish, nuts, avocados, olives and olive oil, and other foods that contain “healthy” fats are great for the skin. Omega-3 fatty acids in fish help to improve and maintain skin health. According to Dr. Farmer, “People who struggle with dry skin should consider increasing the amount of omega-3s in their diet. Omega-3 fatty acids help increase and maintain healthy moisture levels in the skin, and they reduce inflammation and protect against sun damage. Omega-3s are great for people with acne-prone skin.” The lean protein in fish is also great for maintaining the thickness and strength of the skin, leading to an even skin tone and texture. Fish and other foods that are high in healthy fats are typically also great sources of vitamin E and C and zinc. The nutrients derived from foods with healthy fats are great at promoting skin cell turnover and faster wound healing. Walnuts can also be a good source of omega fatty acids, providing high levels of both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
6 – Stock up on Sunflower Seeds
Seeds, especially sunflower seeds, have very high nutritional content, including contributing nearly half the necessary daily value of vitamin E and five grams of protein in each serving. In addition to getting nutrients from the sunflower seeds, the oil derived from sunflower seeds is also great for the skin. It helps decrease cell inflammation that contributes to noticeable signs of aging.
7 – You Can Never Have Too Many Tomatoes
Tomatoes are one of the only foods to contain all of the major carotenoids like lycopene, lutein, and beta carotene. These nutrients protect against UV damage and prevent wrinkles. Additionally, tomatoes should technically make an appearance as one of the vitamin C-rich fruits mentioned earlier.
8 – Soothe Your Sweet Tooth with Skin-Friendly Dark Chocolate
Refined sugars, high-fat foods, and complex carbohydrates are unlikely to top the list of foods that are healthy for any diet, but what about your sweet tooth? Dark chocolate is a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth without tanking your skincare or overall health goals. Eating dark chocolate, which is high in antioxidants, is a great way to increase hydration, reduce and prevent wrinkles, and improve skin’s texture. Antioxidant-rich foods like dark chocolate are also proven to make skin less prone to sunburn. Antioxidants also improve blood flow, which makes it easier for nutrients from the body to reach your skin cells.
9 – Say Yes to Yogurt, Especially Greek Yogurt
Protein and probiotics in yogurt are great for the skin and whole body. Protein-rich foods are filling, helping people consume healthier portions. Probiotics have anti-inflammatory properties that are great for reducing the risk of breakouts and flareups in skin conditions like acne and psoriasis. The probiotics and vitamin B in yogurt are also known to help detox skin and promote hydration, leading to a smoother, healthier appearance. Flavored yogurts aren’t as good for the skin. Rather than buying yogurts that are already flavored, try adding some of the other fruits and nuts on this list to your yogurt for great flavor and an extra skin-health boost.
10 – Buy Broccoli in Bulk
There are many different fruits and veggies on this list, but broccoli might just give more vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, and nutrients than all of these other foods combined. From vitamins A, C, and K for collagen production to lutein, a beta carotenoid that reduces damage from the sun and aging, broccoli may be last on our list, but it should be your number one go-to skin healthy food. Not only does broccoli help the skin, but it also contains sulforaphane, which is believed to reduce the risk for specific kinds of cancer by limiting the damaging effects of carcinogens and triggering your body’s immune system to respond appropriately to cellular damage that can lead to cancer. Sulforaphane protects against UV damage and helps people maintain higher levels of collage production throughout their lives.
Bonus Skin Healthy Diet Tip – Stay Hydrated
About skin hydration, Dr. Farmer says, “Many patients who have dry skin think that moisturizing more often or changing their lotion is the answer. Actually, keeping skin hydrated starts from the inside out, so it’s important to drink plenty of water. If you think you are drinking enough water and still have dry skin, drink even more water and moisturize more often. You’d be surprised the difference drinking a little more water will make in your skin’s health.”
Top Foods that are Bad for Skin
According to Dr. Farmer, “While foods that are good for skin seem to be relatively consistent, those that are bad for skin often vary from person to person. However, as a general rule, foods that are bad for your overall health tend to be worse for your skin health as well. Things like processed foods, refined sugars, and complex carbohydrates are known to accelerate skin aging and exacerbate issues related to chronic skin conditions, leading to more frequent and severe breakouts and flareups. By eating a more nutrient-rich diet, you keep your whole body healthier, which gives the body all the energy it needs to maintain healthy, functioning organs, which includes skin, the body’s largest organ.”
In addition to foods that are generally known as being bad for the skin, certain foods are also linked to flareups in specific skin conditions. A dermatologist can help you determine your unique trigger foods.
Visit U.S. Dermatology Partners
If you’re interested in partnering with your dermatologist to get healthier skin in the new year, don’t hesitate to reach out to U.S. Dermatology Partners. You can get started scheduling your appointment anytime by filling out our simple online scheduling request form.
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