Written by Nina Gajic

We’ve all heard the saying you are what you eat, but is it really true when it comes to the appearance of your skin? Can certain foods affect the health of your skin?

The short answer is yes - not only does the food you eat play a significant role in your appearance, but certain foods also provide your skin with the essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants it needs for that enviable, healthy glow.

And, eating the right food can even help how your skin will age. Processed carbohydrates and sugar can lead to a breakdown of your skin’s collagen, which plays a crucial role in maintaining your skin’s elasticity, firmness, and hydration.

But the good news is while certain foods can cause havoc with your skin, others can help supercharge its radiance and overall texture.

Opting for a Mediterranean-style diet that is rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean protein can help reduce inflammation, keeping skin looking youthful. Click to Tweet

Consuming foods high in vitamin A, vitamin C, and zinc can help healthy skin cell growth and repair. Vitamin A (a great source is carrots, spinach, and kale)  is important in the production of new skin cells, while vitamin C (think sweet potato, citrus fruits, and broccoli) plays a role in collagen production, essential for maintaining skin elasticity. Zinc (found in oysters, sweet potatoes, and citrus fruits) helps regulate oil production and reduce inflammation.

Dr. Rajani Katta, a board-certified dermatologist and author of Glow: The Dermatologists Guide to a Whole  Foods Younger Skin Diet, says the food we eat provides “building blocks” for our skin, and a lack of nutrients can affect its appearance and function.

And the author of The Beauty of Dirty Skin, Dr. Whitney Bowe, emphasises the importance of eating foods high in antioxidants, likening them to “firefighters that come in to put out the fire after the damage has been done.”

Here’s my list of some of the best foods you should eat for healthy skin - and those you should avoid.

What To Enjoy

  1. Sweet Potato - Loaded with vitamin C (an essential component in the production of collagen), sweet potato is a powerhouse food for maintaining an even skin tone and texture. What’s more, it can even brighten and improve the radiance of your skin.
  1. Leafy Greens - Leafy greens such as spinach, kale, and broccoli are packed with vitamins and minerals, as well as high-powered antioxidants like lutein, improving skin hydration and elasticity.
  1. Oily Fish - Studies show oily fish like salmon and tuna are high in protein and omega-3 fats (including EPA and DHA), which can help combat skin inflammations associated with acne, eczema, and psoriasis. Not only this, but oily fishes are also rich in biotin and selenium, which help keep skin smooth and tight.
  1. Berries - Loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, and nutrients, research shows that berries pack a real punch when it comes to protecting your skin from damage and improving healing and circulation. Blueberries are especially rich in antioxidants such as vitamin C and anthocyanin, which help reduce collagen breakdown and increase overall collagen production.
  1. Watermelon - Watermelons are loaded with a powerful antioxidant called lycopene, which helps fight off free radicals. Studies have shown it also has anti-inflammatory activity - so it’s a real all-rounder.
  1. Lentils & Beans - Lentils and beans are amazing sources of iron and protein (which is important for clear skin). Look for black beans, split peas, pintos, and chickpeas.
  1. Whole Grains - Whole grains such as oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, and wholemeal pasta and breads contain B vitamins, like thiamine and riboflavin, which can help improve skin tone and radiance, while balancing natural oil.
  1. Avocado - Avocados contain healthy fats and vitamin E, which help moisturise and protect the skin. They are also rich in nutrients including potassium, folate, and niacin, which promote skin cell growth and repair.
  1. Green Tea - This is rich in catechins, a powerful antioxidant, which helps protect the skin from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage cells and contribute to aging and disease.
  1. Almonds - Not only are they a delicious snack, but almonds are also rich in Vitamin E and healthy fats that can moisturise and hydrate the skin, as well as support overall skin health by providing essential nutrients like copper, zinc, and magnesium.

What To Eat In Moderation

  1. Sugary Foods - When you eat sugary food such as doughnuts and cake, your body goes through glycation - where sugar molecules bind to proteins and produce free radicals. This causes collagen and elastin to break down, leading to premature aging.
  1. Potato Chips - Foods deep-fried in oil like potato chips can add inflammation throughout your body. Like sugary food, anything fried releases cell-damaging free radicals, weakening your skin’s collagen and elasticity.
  1. Saturated Fats - Red meat, cheese, and butter are all high in saturated fats, which are not good for your skin. Try to opt for leaner meat such as turkey and chicken. If you love cheese, enjoy ricotta, goat, and feta instead. Swap butter for olive oil.
  1. Processed Meats - Hot dogs, pepperoni, and bacon are high in sodium and saturated fats, which can dehydrate the skin, weaken collagen and cause inflammation.
  1. Alcohol- It’s fine to enjoy an occasional glass of wine, but heavy drinking can add years to your face as alcohol dehydrates the skin. Too much alcohol can cause wrinkles, puffiness, dryness, redness, and facial capillaries.
  1. White Bread - White bread is high in refined carbohydrates, which can cause your blood sugar levels to spike and contribute to inflammation in the body.
  1. Caffeine - Enjoy that first delicious cup of coffee or tea at the start of the day and then try to avoid it for the rest of the day - and night. Drinking too much caffeine (remember it’s found not only in tea and coffee but also in soft drinks) will not only affect your sleep but can lead to dehydration.
  1. Salt - Too much salt can cause your skin to look puffy and dry through dehydration and fluid retention.

The other benefit of eating the right foods will be a boost in both your energy levels and mental health. Support your skincare routine with a well-balanced diet for glowing and gorgeous skin.

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