We all know it’s important to take care of our skin. But many of us believe it’s more to do with the products we use than what we consume.
Many people go the route of purchasing more skincare products, but what they may not realize is that what we put into our bodies affects our skin just as much as the products we use. Taking care of our digestive health and being mindful of what we eat will help you get a healthy glow from the inside out!
Today, I’m going to go over some nutrients that are good for the skin, different foods that benefit skin and hair, foods you should avoid, foods you can use topically, as well as supplements that you can take to help!
Important Nutrients for Skin
Vitamin A – Vitamin A is a powerful antioxidant found in many fruits, vegetables, eggs, milk, butter, meat, and fish. According to WebMD, Vitamin A is used to treat a variety of skin conditions; including eczema, sunburn, and acne. We need Vitamin A for the functioning of our eyes, skin, immune system, and many other parts of our bodies! A deficiency in Vitamin A can lead to the dry and scaly skin.
Lycopene – Lycopene is a nutrient that has so many benefits for health and is said to help prevent diseases such as cancer and macular degeneration. Lycopene is a carotenoid, which can be converted to Vitamin A, and an antioxidant. It’s found in red fruits and vegetables – Fun fact: it’s actually what gives them their color! Since our body can’t produce any Lycopene naturally, we need to consume foods that contain it. Some common foods that have Lycopene are tomatoes (this contains the maximum amount of Lycopene), watermelon, and grapefruit. Lycopene has numerous health benefits for both your hair and skin; it can help with hair growth, hair loss, reducing skin redness, and repairs UV skin damage.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids – This nutrient has three forms: EPA, DHA, and ALA. EPA and DHA are primarily found in fish, while ALA is found in plant sources like nuts and seeds. These fatty acids help our bodies function properly and provide great health benefits! It’s recommended that you consume foods high in DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids two to three times per week. Some foods that contain high amounts of these are mackerel, salmon, and tuna. Omega 3 helps prevent skin diseases like psoriasis, allergies, and acne. It helps revitalize our skin by maintaining skin tone and helping to make skin look smooth and soft. Omega 3 also helps with dry and brittle hair and improves blood circulation to the scalp.
Vitamin C – Vitamin C is one of the most important nutrients for helping skin and hair! Vitamin C is an antioxidant responsible for improving collagen synthesis in the body – meaning it creates and maintains collagen. Collagen is important to keep our skin firm and prevents wrinkles and other aging signs. Since Vitamin C is water-soluble, our bodies don’t store it, meaning we need to make sure we get this nutrient daily through foods or supplementation. Fruits and vegetables are the best sources of Vitamin C, so including foods that are high in Vitamin C should be enough to get the recommended daily amount. Citrus fruits contain a high amount of Vitamin C, so consuming foods like oranges, grapefruit, and kiwi will help ensure you’re getting enough!
Vitamin E - Vitamin E is another antioxidant that helps protect and renew your skin. Because it helps protect against free radicals, Vitamin E can help prevent premature aging in our skin. Vitamin E can be found in nuts, fruits, and vegetables. Vegetable oils, almonds, and sweet potatoes are a great way to get more than the daily recommended allowance in.
Foods for Skin Health
Avocado – Avocados contain an enormous amount of essential nutrients. The antioxidants that avocado contains will help detoxify the body and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Avocado oil is also a great way to protect your skin from harmful UV rays and sun damage. It will also help moisturize and reduce inflammation.
Matcha Green Tea – Matcha green tea is all the rage right now, and for a good reason. Just one tablespoon of the nutrient-rich matcha powder provides your body with the antioxidants you need to help keep your skin glowing and protected from fine lines and wrinkles. Feel free to consume this drink daily in latte form or even make a face mask with it.
Chia Seeds – Chia seeds are the ultimate breakfast food. Making chia seed pudding is quick, easy, and convenient. Put it together at night, and it’s ready to eat in the morning. Learning more about their skincare properties just makes it that much more enticing! Chia seeds contain a high amount of protein, fiber, and Omega-3 which are important for keeping skin and hair strong. They’re also rich in Vitamin E, zinc, and magnesium. What’s not to love?
Blueberries – Blueberries, which are a great addition to chia seed pudding, have some amazing health benefits. They’re rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, and other antioxidants that aid in helping skin stay glowing and young. As one of the highest antioxidant foods in the world, this is definitely something you want to include into your diet! Blueberries are a great way to combat aging skin because they fight free radicals and help reduce inflammation. And because they contain soluble and insoluble fiber, they’ll also help keep our digestive tract healthy which benefits our skin.
Salmon – Salmon contains high levels of DHA and EPA (Omega-3’s). This plays a huge role in the health of our skin. Eating salmon can help protect our skin from sun exposure and has anti-inflammation properties. Because of the Omega-3 fatty acids, it contains, eating salmon will contribute to moisturized skin!
Pumpkin – We’ve talked about the many health benefits of pumpkin before on the blog. It’s a great seasonal food to include in your diet but what I didn’t touch on much was its benefits for our skin! Since a single cup of pumpkin contains around 197% of our daily Vitamin A intake, it’s an antioxidant-rich food. Pumpkin will help our bodies fight against free radicals and protect our cells from damage. The Vitamin A found in pumpkin will help prevent our skin from getting dry, itchy, or scaly.
Seaweed – This superfood is great for your skin, hair, and overall health. It contains high amounts of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. Seaweed is found in many skincare products and has been found to help with discoloration. Consuming seaweed helps ensure your body gets the right levels of vitamin K, calcium, magnesium, vitamin C, and iron.
Now that we know what foods benefit our skin health, it’s important to make a note of a few things we should avoid.
We know that eating foods that fight inflammation and are rich in antioxidants are important, but what kinds of foods will harm our skin?
Foods You Should Avoid
Candy & Sweets – This should go without saying, but eating a lot of candy and sweets isn’t exactly good for our health. Not only does it have the potential to harm our skin, but it doesn’t have any health benefits for any part of our body. Because of the simple carbohydrates found in many candies and sweets (refined sugar), our body produces high levels of insulin which leads to inflammation throughout the body. Inflammation breaks down collagen, which is the exact opposite effect that we want! Because of the collagen breakdown, eating foods high in sugar may lead to more wrinkles.
Trans Fats – Trans-fats have been linked to causing inflammation. And even worse, it may impair nutrient absorption in the body! Because trans-fats cause inflammation, it can lead to acne breakouts, wrinkles, and sagging skin.
Salty Snacks - Consuming too much sodium is hazardous to our health, and unfortunately it’s something that is all too common in the American diet. Eating too much sodium can lead to dehydration, bloating, and swelling. Your skin could become puffy because of water retention, and you can develop bags under your eyes. Since it may lead to dehydration, your skin could also become dry or oily, causing breakouts! If you’re craving something salty, it’s recommended to use fresh herbs instead or fresh lemon juice. Avoid sodas, energy drinks, and processed and packaged foods.
Supplements You Can Take For Healthier Skin
Probiotics – Probiotics are healthy bacteria that can assist in bringing balance to your digestive tract. This will keep your skin healthy and glowing!
Digestive enzymes – Taking a quality digestive enzyme supplement can help ensure that your body gets all the nutrients from the foods you consume as it can.
Bonus: check out this infographic that illustrates the proper nutrients for healthy skin!
I hope this article helps you get a better idea of how important it is we take care of our bodies not only from the outside but from within!
Foods that are high in nutrients such as Vitamin A, Lycopene, Vitamin E, Vitamin C, and Omega-3 fatty acids are your best source for keeping your skin soft, smooth, and glowing.
Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet consisting of whole foods is the best way to keep our skin, hair, nails, and digestive tract healthy.
About the Author
This article was contributed by Samantha Thayer. She is the online outreach and education specialist over at What’s Up, USANA?. Follow her on Twitter @USANA_Samantha!