By Randi Mann, WHNP-BC, NCMP, APNP
Dreaming of hydrated glowing skin but just can’t seem to get there? Before shelling out on a new, expensive skincare routine, you may want to reconsider your diet.
Our overall health and the quality of food that we eat is often reflected on the outside. Your skin is the largest organ of your body, and it requires proper nutrition to look and function its best. Taking care of yourself on the inside is crucial if you want to look your best on the outside. Keep reading to learn about key nutrients that will help unlock your skin’s radiance.
What Causes Poor Skin?
There are a number of reasons your skin may not be looking its best. Some of these are:
- Nutrient Deficiencies: A pale or sallow complexion may indicate an iron, zinc, vitamin B12, or vitamin B6 deficiency. We recommend testing for these deficiencies and working with a practitioner to resolve nutritional shortcomings. Additionally, antioxidants such as zinc, selenium, and vitamins A, C, and E, are essential in your diet for fighting off free radicals, which age your skin. If your skin is dry, it may be a sign that you lack protein, which forms the building blocks of our skin and bodies. Fatty acids are also crucial for supporting moisture and skin health.
- Poor Diet: Eating too many processed foods or drinking alcohol in excess will affect the texture and appearance of your skin.
- Weather: It is common to experience dryness as the weather cools down.
- Hormonal Changes. Hormones are often to blame for many skin issues. If you are struggling with oily or acne prone skin, this may be due to an excess of androgen hormones, such as testosterone. This may cause your skin to overproduce oil, creating an environment for bacteria and acne to grow. People who menstruate may also feel skin becomes more sensitive and reactive around the time they get their period. This is due to fluctuations of the hormone estrogen throughout your body. Tracking your cycle can help you prepare for these changes. Stress hormones, like cortisol can cause flare ups in your skin as well. Existing skin conditions like acne, eczema, or psoriasis tend to worsen when stress is high.
Top Foods for Healthy Skin
What you eat has a significant impact on the appearance of your skin. Getting the right nutrients is crucial to keeping it strong and youthful.
Foods with high-quality protein, healthy fat, and antioxidants will feed your skin well. Avoiding foods that are highly processed, high in sugar, and limiting alcohol is also key, as these have been associated with increased effects of aging.
Here are some foods to add to your next grocery list for glowing skin:
- Salmon contains antioxidants, fatty acids, and high-quality protein — a winning combination for skin health. Since our bodies don’t produce fatty acids naturally, eating them helps to reinforce your skin’s barrier and keep it moisturized. You can also find these fatty acids in fish like mackerel and herring.
- Avocados are full of healthy fats that will help you glow on the inside and outside. Studies with over 700 women have found that high consumption of healthy fats, like those found in avocados, is associated with plumper, more youthful skin. Also, avocados contain powerful antioxidants like vitamin C & E, which help your skin build collagen and protect it from oxidative damage.
- Sweet Potatoes are an excellent source of beta carotene, which helps protect your skin from sun exposure and prevents dry, wrinkled skin. This nutrient can also be found in spinach and carrots.
- Bell Peppers, Tomatoes, & Broccoli are all excellent sources of vitamin C, which is essential for your skin’s production of collagen—a protein that helps keep the skin firm and strong.
- Nuts & Seeds are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Think walnuts & sunflower seeds, which contain vitamins and omega-3s that can help reduce inflammation in your body, leading to a more even skin tone.
Supplements for Healthy Skin
Ideally, you want to get most of your skin-healthy nutrients through your diet. However, this may not be realistic for everybody at all times.
These supplements can be a helpful addition to support your skin:
- Vitamin E: This antioxidant helps stop the production of free radicals, which age the skin. Supplementing vitamin E daily is recommended, as it can be difficult to find in foods.
- Vitamin C: As we know, this vital antioxidant helps our skin with collagen production. It also plays a role in cells that control skin pigmentation (melanocytes), making it a helpful ingredient to address skin discoloration.
- Vitamin D: Studies have found that vitamin D is protective against the skin-damaging effects of free radicals, and it also reduces inflammation.
- Collagen: As the body’s most abundant protein, supplementing collagen can help the skin’s regeneration process. Collagen supplements come in many forms: powder, liquids, and capsules, and in bone broth.
- Probiotics: Also found in fermented foods, probiotics are essential for maintaining immune and gut health. They play a role in mitigating numerous inflammatory conditions, such as acne, rosacea, eczema, and premature aging from UV damage:
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids: These are found in fish oil, supplements which have been found to help against inflammatory and autoimmune conditions affecting your skin, such as psoriasis.
Products & Lifestyle for Healthy Skin
It is also important to make conscious choices about what our skin comes in contact with. Many cosmetics and lotions contain skin irritants that can cause issues like acne and dryness.
This database will help you find products with clean ingredients that suit your skin.
If you are suffering with dry, dull, acne prone skin or more, working with a health practitioner who knows your health history can help get to the root cause. Together, we can review your specific lifestyle habits and get proper hormone testing to rule out any imbalances that may be affecting your skin’s health.
Reach out to us today and let’s get you back on the path to healthy and vibrant skin!
Cao C, Xiao Z, Wu Y, Ge C. Diet and Skin Aging-From the Perspective of Food Nutrition. Nutrients. 2020 Mar 24;12(3):870. doi: 10.3390/nu12030870. PMID: 32213934; PMCID: PMC7146365
Enrico Carmina, Brigitte Dreno, W Anne Lucky, W George Agak, Anuja Dokras, Jin Ju Kim, Rogerio A Lobo, Fahimeh Ramezani Tehrani, Daniel Dumesic, Female Adult Acne and Androgen Excess: A Report From the Multidisciplinary Androgen Excess and PCOS Committee, Journal of the Endocrine Society, Volume 6, Issue 3, March 2022, bvac003, https://doi.org/10.1210/jendso/bvac003
Hamilton , V. J. (2020, March). Are skin issues a sign of underlying nutrient deficiencies? Nutritionist Resource. Retrieved from https://www.nutritionist-resource.org.uk/memberarticles/skin-issues-as-a-sign-of-underlying-nutrient-deficiencies
Thomsen BJ, Chow EY, Sapijaszko MJ. The Potential Uses of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Dermatology: A Review. J Cutan Med Surg. 2020 Sep/Oct;24(5):481-494. doi: 10.1177/1203475420929925. Epub 2020 May 28. PMID: 32463305.
Köpcke W, Krutmann J. Protection from sunburn with beta-Carotene–a meta-analysis. Photochem Photobiol. 2008 Mar-Apr;84(2):284-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-1097.2007.00253.x. Epub 2007 Dec 15. PMID: 18086246.
Nagata, C., Nakamura , K., Wada, K., Oba, S., Hayashi, M., Yasuda, K., & Takeda , N. (2010, May). Association of dietary fat, vegetables and antioxidant micronutrients with skin aging in Japanese women. The British journal of nutrition. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20085665/
Evans JA, Johnson EJ. The role of phytonutrients in skin health. Nutrients. 2010 Aug;2(8):903-28. doi: 10.3390/nu2080903. Epub 2010 Aug 24. PMID: 22254062; PMCID: PMC3257702.
Umar M, Sastry KS, Al Ali F, Al-Khulaifi M, Wang E, Chouchane AI. Vitamin D and the Pathophysiology of Inflammatory Skin Diseases. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2018;31(2):74-86. doi: 10.1159/000485132. Epub 2018 Jan 6. PMID: 29306952.
Mary-Margaret Kober, Whitney P. Bowe, The effect of probiotics on immune regulation, acne, and photoaging, International Journal of Women’s Dermatology, Volume 1, Issue 2,2015, Pages 85-89, ISSN 2352-6475, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijwd.2015.02.001.