What to Eat and Avoid for Healthy Skin

For smooth, radiant skin, start in the kitchen.

Despite our wet climate in the Pacific Northwest, dry skin is common. Make sure to moisturize after washing. For more complicated skin conditions like rosacea, whiteheads, blackheads, and pimples, the common medical treatment is antibiotics. The CDC calls antibiotic resistance one of the world’s most pressing health concerns. Thankfully, many skin conditions can be reduced with diet.

Skin health isn’t just about appearance. It’s linked to overall health. A diet that nourishes your skin closely resembles a diet that benefits your heart and other organs. If you’re experiencing skin conditions, it might be worth adding some of these to your diet.

What to eat

Vitamin C is found in citrus and berries. An antioxidant that prevents sun damage, vitamin C can help reduce wrinkles and other signs of skin aging and boost collagen, a structural protein responsible for the skin’s strength and texture.

Vitamin E is found in almonds, spinach, and avocados. The antioxidant protects the skin from damaging free radicals.

Protein is in eggs, meat, and beans. A diet low in protein increases skin fragility, so make sure to get plenty of lean protein.

Zinc is from spinach and pumpkin. The trace mineral is a powerhouse for skin. It helps repair tissue, protects against ultraviolet radiation, and promotes cell production and turnover. It helps control inflammatory responses, which directly improves appearance of rosacea and acne.

Vitamin A from carrots, mangos, and sweet potatoes offers photoprotection, a biochemical process that protects against sun damage.

Polyphenols found in tea contain antioxidant molecules with antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, which can help eliminate acne. Green tea has the highest polyphenol content.

Omega-3 fatty acids from halibut, salmon, sardines, avocados, nuts, and flaxseed oil can calm inflammation. Fish consumption caused a 32% decrease in moderate-to-severe acne.

Water makes up about 30% of your skin. Without proper hydration, skin loses plumpness, elasticity, and resiliency. Drink up!

What to avoid

Some foods are dehydrating, inflammatory, or otherwise anger skin. If you struggle with acne, inflammation, or premature aging, try avoiding:

Nonfat milk: The hormones in milk elevate insulin levels, which increase oil production on the skin surface, which leads to acne. Whole milk and cheese did not cause the same reaction.

Sugar: Sugar has a high glycemic load and increases insulin and inflammation. Inflammation causes collagen to break down, which can lead to wrinkles and sagging. Milk chocolate is especially rough on skin.

The Western diet: A typical Western diet is comprised of high levels of processed food, refined sugars, red meat, and saturated fat with little fiber intake. Acne affects 40 to 50 million Americans. In contrast, remote cultures without Western diet influence did not appear to have acne at all.

Alcohol: Whether you’re sipping wine, beer, or mixed drinks, it’s dehydrating and can lead to signs of aging, such as dark circles, fine lines, and wrinkles.

Caffeine: Also dehydrating, caffeine increases signs of aging.

Spicy foods, hot drinks, and cinnamon are inflammatory and trigger a rosy rash characteristic of rosacea.

Image by MangoStar_Studio

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Candace Nelson

In the mountains or water debate, Candace Nelson, MS, CN chooses water every time. She is a licensed nutritionist and loves taking any fitness class that makes her forget she's working out. Read more at candacenelson.net

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