What you eat and how well you nourish your body can have a big impact on your health.
Health studies support making good food and nutrition choices and tell us how those choices can improve our brains, hearts, digestion, blood sugar control, and maybe even longevity.
But what about your skin?
Researchers have investigated skin health and discovered that eating better can equal healthier, clearer, and more vibrant skin.
Your diet influences your hormonal balance, inflammation, and detoxification—and those show up as clear skin (or not), wrinkles (or not), and glowing skin (or not).
Yes, you are what you eat and your skin shows it. Let’s see how:
- Carbohydrates are generally healthy foods until they become processed and transformed into simple sugars. Simple sugars increase free-radical damage and glycated proteins (misshaped proteins) throughout the body—but especially in the skin. Studies have shown the consumption of large amounts of sugar increases wrinkling.[i] Avoid added sugars when you can. A 12 oz soda might contain 8 teaspoons of added sugar, more than you should consume in a day.Fill your plate with complex carbohydrates from whole grains and healthy vegetables.
- Proteins like collagen and elastin are the main component in your hair, skin, and nails. These proteins require good proteins in the diet for support. Choose healthy proteins including fish, chicken, and grass-fed beef.
- The Fats that can harm your skin are trans-fats (found in processed foods and margarine). Our skin utilizes healthy Omega-3 fatty acids like those found in fish oil to help skin cells function better.[ii] Olive oil has been studied too and found to be associated with 31 percent lower risk of photoaging in people who consume it regularly.[iii]
- Fruits and Vegetables deserve special mention because they contain so many good nutrients that our bodies need.[iv] The Mediterranean diet, which is high in vegetables and legumes, has been shown to be great for skin health.[v] Many healthy phytochemicals (including flavanols, carotenoids, polyphenols, and others) are found in vegetables and fruits.[vi]
- Resveratrol is a special polyphenol found in red wine and certain fruits. Resveratrol has been shown in studies to protect the skin against of the effects of free-radicals .[vii]
- Green tea contains many bioactive compounds (such as polyphenols, flavonoids, and catechins) that function as powerful antioxidants to increase circulation.[viii]
- Soy and soy protein have been studied and found to help reduce the appearance of fine wrinkles and improve skin elasticity. Researchers have discovered that 40 mg soy isoflavone aglycones per day seem to be enough to see positive changes.[ix]
- Water is of great benefit to the skin and you should try to get at least eight glasses of water a day.
The foods you eat provide not only nutrients needed for life but many other bioactive compounds to support health, including good skin health. Take the time to ensure you are getting the nutrients that will help your skin keep that radiant glow your whole life.
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[i] Purba MB, Kouris-Blazos A, Wattanapenpaiboon N, Lukito W, Rothenberg EM, Steen BC, Wahlqvist ML. Skin wrinkling: can food make a difference?. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 2001 Feb 1;20(1):71-80.
[ii] McCusker MM, Grant-Kels JM. Healing fats of the skin: the structural and immunologic roles of the ω-6 and ω-3 fatty acids. Clinics in Dermatology. 2010 Aug 31;28(4):440-51.
[iii] Latreille J, Kesse-Guyot E, Malvy D, Andreeva V, Galan P, Tschachler E, Hercberg S, Guinot C, Ezzedine K. Dietary monounsaturated fatty acids intake and risk of skin photoaging. PloS one. 2012 Sep 6;7(9):e44490.
[iv] Liu RH. Health benefits of fruit and vegetables are from additive and synergistic combinations of phytochemicals. The American journal of clinical nutrition. 2003 Sep 1;78(3):517S-20S.
[v] Primavesi L, Piantanida M, Pravettoni V. Mediterranean Diet and Skin Health. InBioactive Dietary Factors and Plant Extracts in Dermatology 2013 (pp. 3-14). Humana Press.
[vi] Heinrich U, Tronnier H, Stahl W, Bejot M, Maurette JM. Antioxidant supplements improve parameters related to skin structure in humans. Skin pharmacology and physiology. 2006;19(4):224-31.
[vii] Ndiaye M, Philippe C, Mukhtar H, Ahmad N. The grape antioxidant resveratrol for skin disorders: promise, prospects, and challenges. Archives of biochemistry and biophysics. 2011 Apr 15;508(2):164-70.
[viii] Heinrich U, Moore CE, De Spirt S, Tronnier H, Stahl W. Green tea polyphenols provide photoprotection, increase microcirculation, and modulate skin properties of women. The Journal of nutrition. 2011 Jun 1;141(6):1202-8.
[ix] Izumi T, Saito M, Obata A, Arii M, Yamaguchi H, Matsuyama A. Oral intake of soy isoflavone aglycone improves the aged skin of adult women. Journal of nutritional science and vitaminology. 2007;53(1):57-62.