You don’t have to be obsessive over looks to know that the appearance of your skin matters. It’s the first thing people see when they meet you. There’s nothing wrong with wanting your skin to look clear and healthy.
It seems like there are a lot of opinions out there on how to best take care of our skin, along with thousands of lotions and potions to go with them. While different products and regimens may work for different people, one thing holds true for everyone – what you eat has a lot of impact on how your complexion looks.
We rounded up seven foods that fit nicely into your skincare protocol, along with three foods that could have a negative effect on your skin’s appearance.
7 Foods That Are Great for Skin
- Chia Seeds
- Sweet Potato
- Coconut Water
Salmon, especially wild-caught salmon, is a favorite food among skincare enthusiasts because of its astaxanthin content.
Asta-who? Astaxanthin is a carotenoid with a red-orange pigment that tends to find its way to your skin.
Astaxanthin has been found to:
- Act on inflammation, and inflammation is why some types of acne can appear red and puffy
- Neutralize free radicals in the skin, which can come from too much sun, being out in the elements, and even eating certain foods
- Increase collagen production, which helps prevent wrinkles
- Help repair DNA, which could prevent tumors in some cases
You can get astaxanthin in red-orange colored seafoods such as shrimp and wild-caught salmon, and through supplements. If you’d prefer a vegan source, you can find vegan astaxanthin supplements made from a yeast called Phaffia rhodozyma or an algae called Haematococcus pluvialis.
Turmeric has loads of potential benefits for your whole body, and your skin is no exception. One review analyzed several studies that examined the effects of curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, for skin conditions including acne, alopecia, atopic dermatitis, facial aging, oral lichen planus, pruritus, psoriasis, radiodermatitis, and vitiligo. Ten out of 18 studies noted statistically significant improvement in skin disease severity in the turmeric and curcumin treatment groups compared with control groups, used either orally and topically.
Want to add some turmeric into your day? Try this Golden Turmeric Smoothie recipe!
3. Chia seeds
Chia seeds are earning themselves a reputation for creating the “chia seed glow.” It’s no wonder, when you look a little closer at their nutritional content.
These tiny seeds somehow fit a nutritional powerhouse into a little package. Chia seeds are packed with ALA, an essential fatty acid that your skin loves. The Institute of Medicine recommends 1.6 grams of ALA a day for men and 1.1 grams for women, and just one tablespoon of chia seeds contains 2 grams of ALA.
One tablespoon of chia also contains ten grams of fiber, which can help with digestion. A lot of the time, inefficient digestion means inefficient elimination, which can lead to your body pushing waste from your cells out through your sweat glands. Acne and rashes can originate this way. The cleaner your body is on the inside, the clearer your skin will look on the outside.
4. Sweet Potato
Sweet potatoes contain both types of fiber – soluble and insoluble – that makes it great for your digestion. Coming in around six grams of fiber in one cup of cooked sweet potato, you’re getting 26% of your recommended fiber intake in just one serving. Sweet potatoes also contain oligosaccharides, which could help improve your friendly gut bacteria, the kind that help keep you healthy.
What does that do with skin? Just as with chia seeds, healthy digestion helps keep your elimination regular and efficient, which reduces your body’s need to eliminate waste through your skin. Further, a good microbiome balance
Water isn’t a food, but it’s so important to skin health that it deserves a place on this list. Water hydrates your skin cells from the inside, and also helps your body flush impurities away so that they don’t have to exit through your skin.
Not sure how much to drink? Some people drink to thirst, and others set a goal to hit throughout the day. If you’re not sure, aim for half your body weight in ounces of water per day. So, if you weight 150 pounds, shoot for 75 oz of water per day.
6. Coconut Water
Water is great for hydration, but coconut water contains electrolytes, which helps your body hold onto that water and get it into your cells where it can work its magic. Coconut water contains 60 mg of magnesium, 600 mg of potassium, and 58 mg of calcium per cup. When consumed with electrolytes, your body uses water more efficiently and hydrates more thoroughly.
One cup of avocados contains 10g of fiber, which helps with digestion and elimination of impurities. Avocado is also 71% monounsaturated fat, a type of fat that has been shown to reduce free radical damage, insulin resistance and inflammatory processes and could protect from sun-related skin aging.
And, a creamy avocado tastes good with just about everything. But read this article in case you need more reasons to eat avocados.
3 of the Worst Foods for Skin
Sugar has been shown to accelerate skin aging. It promotes the cross-linking of collagen fibers, the material that keeps skin stretchy. That makes your body’s repair processes ineffective. If that happens enough, you end up with sagging skin, lines, and wrinkles.
On top of that, blood sugar highs and lows could lead to inflammation, which could show up anywhere in your body – including your skin.
An occasional celebratory toast won’t completely wreck your skin, but regular consumption of alcohol will make your complexion appear dull and dry at first, and wrinkled in the long term. Alcohol is a diuretic, which dehydrates your body and of course, dehydrates your skin cells as well.
Alcohol also throws off your electrolyte balance, which could affect your ability to replenish water once you wake up in the morning. (Hello, hangover!)
If that wasn’t enough, alcohol may promote inflammation, which could create breakouts or make existing skin conditions appear worse.
If you’re going to have a drink or two, be sure to drink water with them and don’t do it too often.
3. Fried foods
Deep fried foods are soaked in overheated, oxidized oils, which are terrible for your skin cells. Healthy fats nourish your skin, while low-quality fats detract from your skin quality.
The exception would be air-fried foods cooked in high-quality oils, which use only a few tablespoons of healthy fats to create a crispy fried texture.