Beauty 

How to Get Your Best Skin From the Inside Out

October 30, 2020 7 min read

Woman spreading avocado on toast

Dr. Sandra El Hajj - MSc, N-MD, DHSc

By now, we're all used to hearing the term "you are what you eat." While the phrase can carry a number of meanings, it's certainly an accurate depiction of skin health. 

If you neglect to offer your body the right nutrients, its metabolic processes are affected and your wellness suffers as a result. The first place you may notice the consequences is on your skin.

In this article, we'll outline some of the best foods for skin health. Along the way, keep in mind that radiant skin stems from proper water intake, a well-balanced diet, a good night's sleep, and a consistent exercise routine. Together, these elements will set your complexion up for success. 

Avocados are excellent for your skin

Referred to as "alligator pears" due to their color and shape, avocados pack a hefty dose of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. They're high in fat-soluble vitamins A and E that keep the skin nourished, youthful, and moisturized. Together, these nutrients help protect your cells from free radicals, promoting healthy skin aging.

Due to their high content of beta-carotene, potassium, and lecithin, avocados also promote skin softening and restoration by maintaining the healthy functioning of cell membranes. 

Tips for incorporating avocado into your diet

Aside from their skin-enhancing properties, avocados are a versatile ingredient you can incorporate into your diet in many ways. Some of the best recipes for avocados include the following:

  • Avocado Hummus: Imagine a recipe combining the best of both dips—hummus and guacamole. In this recipe for Avocado Hummus, the addition of avocado elevates your traditional hummus recipe with healthy fats and micronutrients. Get the recipe here.
  • Avocado Smoothie: Smoothies are one of the simplest vehicles for packing in nutrients. With the press of a (blender) button, you can have a wholesome meal in just a few minutes. In this recipe, blueberries, bananas, and avocados combine to create a tasty and nutritious treat. Get the recipe here 

Incorporate omega-3s from fatty fish

Salmon, mackerel, and herring are exceptional choices for healthy skin. What makes these fish special is their rich omega-3 fatty acid content, essential for promoting supple and moisturized skin. One study demonstrated that deficiencies of such fatty acids—namely DHA—might contribute to dry skin. 

Another study published by the Journal of Clinical Medicine added that the skin-boosting effects of omega-3s go far beyond radiant skin. Fatty fish can help reduce redness and acne by easing skin inflammation. They can also lower the sensitivity of your skin, making it less prone to UV damage.

Rich in vitamin E, fatty fish are potent sources of antioxidants that can help protect the skin from free radicals. They're also full of high-quality protein, which contributes to keeping your skin firm and intact. Finally, the zinc content of fatty fish makes them a great choice for combating inflammation and promoting the formation of new skin cells.

Tips for incorporating fatty fish into your diet

Salmon and other fatty fish can easily be incorporated into your diet as a main meal or snack. With salmon, you can eat the fish smoked or as a grilled fillet.

  • Salmon avocado salad: This recipe couldn't be more simple. Add cubed avocados, smoked salmon or grilled salmon fillet, capers, and quinoa to a dish. Your dressing can be as simple as lemon juice, olive oil, and a pinch of salt.
  • Maritime Salmon: This is a great recipe to serve with steamed rice and grilled or steamed vegetables. Made with just four simple ingredients, it's sure to please while packing a healthy punch of omega-3s. Get the recipe here.

Balance your omega fatty acids with walnuts

Rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, walnuts are a wholesome source of essential fatty acids your body cannot synthesize on its own. For plant-based eaters, walnuts can be an especially valuable tool in the diet.

Walnuts are also rich in zinc, an important mineral for healing wounds and fighting off both inflammation and harmful bacteria. Finally, these nuts are high in vitamin E and selenium, two potent antioxidants.

Tips for incorporating walnuts into your diet

The simplest way to get walnuts into your diet is by enjoying a handful of raw walnuts as a snack. You can also use these nuts to top any salad or crush them with other ingredients to make a satisfying filling.

  • Walnut Raspberry Smoothie: Yes, we're back with another smoothie recipe. But who could blame us? This time, raspberries and walnuts combine to create a nutrient-packed smoothie you can enjoy at any time of the day. Get the recipe here.
  • Walnut banana bread. Got a favorite banana bread recipe? Walnuts are the perfect add-in! Once your batter is mixed, toss in half a cup of chopped walnuts and gently stir. 

Sweet Potatoes are your Orange Gems

Sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene, which functions as a precursor for vitamin A. This potent root vegetable contains up to six times your daily needs of Vitamin A in as little as half a cooked cup. 

Sweet potatoes are excellent antioxidants. They're high in anthocyanins and, paired with their high concentrations of vitamins A, C, and retinol, they help fight off signs of aging. 

Sweet potatoes for skin health

Tips for incorporating sweet potatoes into your diet

Sweet potatoes are a fruitful addition to any diet. You can enjoy them as a main dish, side, or even in a smoothie. Diced and grilled, you can enjoy them alone or with other vegetables. 

  • Sweet potato skin smoothie: This smoothie is a delicious elixir for your skin. Packed with antioxidants from sweet potatoes and healthy fats from almond butter, this nutrient-dense smoothie is sure to satisfy for hours. Get the recipe here 
  • Sweet potato casserole: You may recognize this recipe from your Thanksgiving spread, but it's a tasty treat you can enjoy any time of year. For a healthier twist on the classic, get the recipe here.  

Enjoy a rainbow of bell peppers

Bell peppers come in a rainbow of colors: red, green, orange, yellow, and even striped varieties. Like sweet potatoes, they're high in beta carotene that helps the body meet its daily vitamin A requirements. In fact, you can get more than 150% of your daily needs for this vitamin with just one cup of red bell pepper.

Bell peppers are also rich in vitamin C that helps restore collagen and works to keep your skin firm and healthy. In one study examining the dietary habits of 4,025 women, those who consumed more vitamin C had a lower likelihood of aged skin.

Tips for incorporating bell peppers into your diet

You can incorporate bell peppers into your diet in so many ways. They can be roasted, grilled, sautéed, or enjoyed raw in a salad.

  • Stuffed bell pepper: For this recipe, you'll start with an assortment of whole bell peppers and a preheated oven. Once cleaned and deseeded, stuff your bell peppers with your choice of protein, onions, garlic, tomatoes, white rice, black pepper, and corn. You can top the stuffed peppers with grated cheese or breadcrumbs, then bake until the peppers are tender.
  • Bell pepper avocado salad: This salad is full of antioxidants. All you need is one avocado, one diced raw bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, two diced green onions, cilantro, one squeezed lemon, and some salt and pepper.

Aloe vera can be your skin's best friend

Aloe is a cactus-like plant known for its medicinal properties that can combat acne, prevent dark spots, and slow down aging. Its gel can help treat many conditions like burns, psoriasis, and cold sores. 

The plant is rich in vitamins C and E, which helps keep your skin supple and hydrated by promoting continuous repair. Ancient civilizations used to call it "the plant of immortality" for its rejuvenating properties to the body and skin. 

A study published by the Journal of Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology explained the powerful functions of aloe vera as an antioxidant, an anti-inflammatory, and a skin-regenerative food.

Above all, aloe vera is a plant that boosts the moisture retention of skin. It can quench thirsty cells while retaining moisture, combating itchiness, and soothing irritations. 

Applied topically, it's an excellent remedy for cracked skin. While many are familiar with the gel as a mask or incorporated into facial creams, eating aloe vera can accentuate its benefits by acting on internal aging processes.

Tips for incorporating aloe vera into your diet

Besides using aloe vera as a topical hydrator, you can drink its gel in a refreshing smoothie. When prepared with the right ingredients, smoothies with aloe vera are rejuvenating mixes for your entire body. 

  • Strawberry Smoothie: This smoothie is easy to prepare and presents antioxidant-rich benefits for your skin. Combining the healing properties of aloe vera gel with fresh fruit, this refreshing treat is perfect for summer. Get the recipe here. 
  • Cleansing Aloe Vera Smoothie: This cleansing smoothie can help rejuvenate your skin while keeping it radiant. Blending the micronutrient power of greens with antioxidant-rich green tea, this is one smoothie you won't want to miss. Get the recipe here.

In summary

Your skin is your body's first line of defense, protecting you from looming environmental elements each day. Unfortunately, this puts your skin at a higher risk of exposure to harmful toxins and threats like UV light. 

Over time, these elements can cause substantial damage to your skin. Such damage often appears in the forms of dryness, dullness, fine lines, or acne. While you can't reverse the process of skin aging, you can slow it down with intentional lifestyle choices.

Eating a well-balanced diet full of nutrients and healthy fats, drinking enough water, getting a good night's sleep, and keeping up a consistent exercise routine can all contribute to radiant skin today and in the future. 

Among the many superfoods to choose from, consider adding sweet potatoes, bell peppers, walnuts, aloe vera, and fatty fish into your diet. With a little help from essential fatty acids and antioxidants, your skin will be on its way to its best glow yet.