From a young age, I was taught that food can have beneficial effects for your skin. My Mom told me, when I’m finished eating a slice of watermelon, to take the white rind and rub it over my face for radiant skin. It was an attractive concept in so many ways – you are making use of, essentially, garbage (the rind) that cools you down on a hot, summer day (when watermelons are in season) to improve your skin – a win-win-win! An intriguing idea without question – one of which probably led many people to try it in hopes of glowing skin. (Please tell me I wasn’t the only one!)
What I’ve learned since then is that the integrity of your skin is more about what you put on the inside than the outside. Topical care can only take you so far – if your diet delivers improper nutrients, your skin will pay the price. Evidence of poor nutrition can manifest on your skin in various ways – feeling rough or dry, dullness, congestion, proneness to break-outs, or inflammation.
Skin health truly comes from within. My skin looks and feels the healthiest when I am taking the proper steps to nourish it. This is my four-pillar approach to nutrition for healthy skin:
- Focus on a plant-based diet that includes specific nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables (iceberg lettuce – you don’t count). Vitamins A and C are essential. They both contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which help to promote cell reproduction and combat cell damage and inflammation. Also, vitamin C is vital for collagen production. Rich in both essential nutrients, red bell peppers are skin superstars – they even contain more vitamin C than oranges!
- Choose complete proteins at each meal. Complete proteins are rich in amino acids that produce collagen and omega-3 fatty acids that nourish the skin. Whole eggs, wild salmon, and halibut are excellent high-quality proteins.
- Avoid deep-fried foods because the oxidized fat can damage cell structures and promote inflammation. On an individual level, I also notice an association between the consumption of fried foods and increased congestion in the pores of my skin.
- Stay hydrated. Proper hydration is essential to maintain skin tautness and clarity. Also, limit diuretics, or beverages that dehydrate you, such as coffee and alcohol. Coffee should be limited to 3 cups (that is 3 “short” cups) and alcohol to 2 drink units per day. So, really, we want to increase A and C in the way of vitamins and limit A and C when it comes to beverages — get it?
While these four pillars form the foundation of my approach to healthy skin, specificity of nutrients is key to each individual. Oftentimes, we get lost trying to navigate our plates due to a lack of understanding that each person’s diet should be unique because each person is unique.
Final word of advice – be cautious of where you get your skin care information from.
Always reference a reputable resource or consult a professional to ensure that the information is evidence-based. Unfortunately, many people spend exorbitant sums of money on consultations with unaccredited practitioners, skin treatments or supplements that are not supported by research, and tests that can be potentially-harmful. Sometimes, we just need to get back to the basics. A diet containing specific foods that your body draws nutrients from is key to skin health. To find out which specific nutrients your unique skin needs, let’s chat.