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