You might be surprised that the foods you eat have an enormous effect on the health of your skin.
Everything you eat becomes a part of not only your inner being, but the outer fabric of your body as well. The healthier the foods are that you consume, the better your skin will look. Food is the proverbial fountain of youth, and everyone knows that healthy, glowing skin can take years off of your physical appearance.
The reverse is true as well. The less attention you pay to what you ingest, the more problems you may see cropping up with your skin like dry, sallow and older-looking skin. It's not going to happen overnight, but starve your skin long enough, and it's going to show. Some health experts believe that when your diet is missing certain foods for healthy skin, other, even more serious skin problems can result as well. A number of conditions, such as eczema and acne can be linked to diet.
What NOT To Eat
First, let’s take a look at the bad stuff.
Sugar and Carbohydrates- Sugar is perhaps the biggest skin killer of them all. It can destroy your skin by causing inflammation, causing you to look older. Along with sugar, most carbohydrates can cause the same. Those carbs we can do without include starchy vegetables and fruits, such as potatoes, bananas and apples, which convert to sugar quickly. Although these foods do contain nutrients, their sugar content is outrageous, and without a lot of exercise or when eaten in excess, these foods can inflame organs, muscular tissue and our skin. Refined grains also produce the same result.
Gluten and Processed Foods- People with a gluten sensitivity or intolerance can experience a lot of inflammation when consuming gluten-enriched foods, such as rye, barley and wheat. Even if you do not have a gluten sensitivity, these foods can and still do cause some degree of inflammation. Whole or white grain and white rice are starches and can cause some degree of inflammation. Foods made from these grains, also known as 'processed foods', are equally as bad for your skin.
Many people can improve their skin tone and texture dramatically simply by avoiding processed foods, and eating wholesome foods that are healthy for you. Your skin will respond by looking and feeling healthier. Below are some foods that are great for your skin:
What to Eat for Great Skin
Water- The numero uno thing that you can put into your body if you want great-looking skin is water. The more water you drink, the more you flush all of the other stuff out of your body and the healthier your skin is going to look.
Low-Fat Dairy Products- One the most important components of skin health is vitamin A. One of the best places to get it is low-fat dairy products. In fact, experts say that the health of our skin cells is dependent on dietary vitamin A, especially if you have a thyroid condition or diabetes. Many people who have these issues can't convert the beta carotene to vitamin A, which is the form found in many foods that we normally associate with this vitamin, such as carrots. Low-fat yogurt is a great source of vitamin A, along with broccoli and spinach.
Foods Rich in Vitamin C- Foods like grapefruit, oranges and brussel sprouts are very rich in Vitamin C, and Vitamin C helps delay or reduces wrinkles.
Blueberries, plums, blackberries and strawberries (Antioxidants)- These foods have extremely high antioxidant content. The benefits of these foods for healthy skin are plentiful. Free radicals damage the membrane of skin cells, potentially allowing damage to the DNA of that cell. Antioxidants in these fruits can protect the cell, so there is less chance for damage. When you help protect the cells from damage, you also guard against premature aging. In this respect, these fruits may very well help keep your skin younger looking longer. Sweet potatoes and cantaloupe are also very rich in antioxidants.
Iron- Lean meat and eggs provide iron, which help keep you from becoming too pale or forming dark circles around your eyes. Eat lean red meat sparingly, though, and make sure the cut of meat you eat is not too high in fat. Eggs are a good iron-providing alternative for people who don’t want to eat much red meat, and you can eat eggs literally every day.
The Omegas- Foods like walnuts, flaxseed, canola oil and salmon all deliver essential fatty acids, and thus are key foods for healthy skin. Essential fatty acids are responsible for healthy cell membranes, which is not only what act as barriers to harmful things, but also as the passageway for nutrients to cross in and out, and for waste products to get in and out of the cell. Because it is the cell membrane that also holds water in, the stronger that barrier is, the better your cells can hold moisture. And that means plumper, younger looking skin. The same inflammatory process that can harm our arteries and cause heart disease can harm skin cells. Essential fatty acids can offer protection to both. The best-known essential fatty acids are omega 3 and omega 6, which must be in balance for good health and good skin.
Green Tea- This drink has anti-inflammatory properties, and it's protective to the cell membrane. It may even help prevent or reduce the risk of skin cancer from damaging ultraviolet light. The polyphenols in green tea have anti-inflammatory properties that may also be beneficial to skin health.
Selenium- Foods like turkey, brazil nuts and whole wheat contain the mineral selenium, which plays a key role in the health of skin cells. Some studies show that even skin damaged by the sun may suffer fewer oxidative damage when selenium levels are high. Additionally, eating whole-grain products leaves less room for the "white" foods that are a worse choice for skin health. These include white rice, sugar and white-flour items such as cake, pasta and breads. All can affect insulin levels and cause inflammation that may ultimately be linked to skin acne.
Healthy Oils- These contain more than essential fatty acids. Eating good-quality oils helps keep skin lubricated and keeps it looking and feeling healthier overall. Those labeled cold pressed, expeller processed, or extra virgin are the good ones for our body. When an oil is commercially processed, they are boiled, processed several times and they can lose valuable nutrients. By comparison, when oils are prepared by the cold-press or expeller process, or, in the case of olive oil, are extra virgin, preparation involves only pressing, heating, and bottling. You get all the nutrients that are not only good for your skin, but good for your body.
Adding these foods and beverages to your diet can be tremendous in improving your overall skin health. However, it’s just as important to cut out those bad foods that can harm your skin, so choose wisely.
David Novak is a international syndicated newspaper columnist, appearing in newspapers, magazines, radio and TV around the world. His byline has appeared in GQ, National Geographic, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, Reader's Digest, USA Today, among others, and he has appeared on The Today Show, the CBS Morning Show and Paul Harvey Radio. David is a specialist at consumer technology, health and fitness, and he also owns a PR firm and a consulting company where he and his staff focus on these industries. He is a regular contributing editor for Healthline. For more information, visit http://www.healthline.com/.