Food is such a unique part of our lives. Sure, it’s an essential fuel that our bodies need, but it’s come to mean a lot more to many people too. It can serve as a reason to gather with people we love or a little slice of joy in our day. Don’t tell me that the smell of certain dishes like a Thanksgiving turkey or your grandma’s legendary mac and cheese doesn’t bring up a flood of memories.
As we all know, the food we eat also affects nearly every part of our bodies. And yes, that includes our skin. Getting that glowing complexion you’ve always wanted isn’t just a matter of what you put onto your skin, it’s a matter of what supplies you give your skin, too, from the food you eat.
Want to maintain a skin-friendly diet? Start with these handy facts about how your diet impacts your skin.
The Right Foods Affect Your Skin’s Hydration
Keeping your skin hydrated is one of the quickest ways to get that youthful glow. Do you want your skin to look like a grape or a raisin? Dehydration might not make *that* level of impact but it does make your skin smoother and plumper, minimizing fine lines and reducing dry flakiness too.
A facial moisturizer goes a long way, but you also need to drink plenty of water…and eat plenty of water. You can help keep your skin hydrated by eating foods with a high water content like watermelon, cantaloupe, oranges, strawberries, lettuce, cucumber, zucchini, and celery.
Your Skin Isn’t a Fan of Sugar
I know, I know, there’s nothing like a spectacular sweet treat every now and then. You don’t have to cut sugar out of your life completely, but there are a lot of reasons to keep it to a minimum, and your skin is one of those reasons. Sugar increases inflammation throughout your body, including on your skin.
Sugar also affects the hormones that impact your skin’s oil. When you eat sugar, your body produces insulin to process that sugar, and insulin also happens to trigger oil production. So particularly if you’re prone to acne, pair sugar moderation with your acne-fighting skin care.
Healthy Fats are Your Friends
More and more research is showing that the “fat-free” craze of the 1990s and early 2000s was…a miscalculation. Our bodies need fats and fatty acids – we just need to make sure they’re the healthy kind.
When it comes to your skin, one of the most important nutrients you need is omega-3 fatty acids. Your skin loves them for several reasons: they support your natural moisture barrier to keep your skin hydrated, they minimize sun damage, they regulate your skin’s oil production, and they can even keep your skin looking younger.
How do you get more of these miracle workers into your diet? The best sources of omega-3 fatty acids include fish, nuts, and seeds like flax seeds and chia seeds.
Dairy Can Impact Your Skin-Impacting Hormones
Dairy has been jumping back and forth for ages between the “nice” list and the “naughty” list when it comes to health. There are pros and cons to eating dairy but taking in too much dairy can be a problem for your skin.
Dairy products contain androgens including precursors to testosterone. This can throw off your body’s natural hormonal balance in a way that shifts your skin’s oil production. Ultimately, this could make you more prone to acne. So, on top of using a great acne care kit, keep your dairy consumption moderate.
Antioxidants Can Ward Off Sun Damage
You probably know that sun exposure isn’t great for your skin. It increases your risk of skin cancer and speeds up the aging process, leading to premature wrinkles and fine lines, skin thinning and sagging, and age spots. No thank you.
Interestingly, though, you can help to keep sun damage to a minimum by taking in more antioxidants. Antioxidants allow your body to repair damage from the sun’s radiation and fight off free radicals.
Daily sunscreen is still essential, but you can give your sun protection an added boost by eating antioxidant-rich foods like berries, pecans, dark chocolate, kale, and artichokes.
Foods Give Your Body Essential Building Blocks
Your body is the ultimate self-sustaining factory. It’s constantly producing cells and other components that it needs, but to keep that factory running, it needs the right raw materials. When it comes to your skin, two of the most important “raw materials” are biotin and protein.
Biotin is a vitamin that your body uses to produce new skin cells (read: more youthful skin cells). You can find it in eggs, meats, fish, nuts, seeds, legumes, sweet potatoes, and mushrooms among other healthy foods.
Protein is made up of amino acids, and when you eat protein, your body can recycle those amino acids. One way it recycles them is by turning them into a particularly skin-friendly protein: collagen. Collagen is the protein that makes your skin firm, smooth, thick, and youthful. To make sure your body can produce as much collagen as possible, take in plenty of protein so it has the ingredients it needs.
Eating Your Way to Better Skin
Your diet affects so much more than your weight on the scale. It’s the best way to give your body everything it needs to function at its best, and that includes your skin. So the next time you’re looking over a menu or cruising the fridge for something to make for dinner, use the tips above to choose something your skin will thank you for.