The old adage “you are what you eat” has stuck around for a reason: Poor diet has been linked to disease, obesity and decreased energy, while good nutrition has been shown to have innumerable health benefits. When it comes to the skin, research also shows that making nutritious choices can directly affect your complexion by fighting the signs of aging and improving skin conditions like dryness and acne.
Antioxidants are all-stars in skincare products—not only do they protect skin from free radicals, but they help counteract the breakdown of collagen. Eating a diet rich in antioxidants can also support overall skin health. A study has shown that taking antioxidant supplements (with a combination of minerals and glycosaminoglycans), like coenzyme Q10 or vitamin E, can help improve skin roughness and fine wrinkles.1 Eating antioxidant-rich foods can have a similar effect, think cruciferous vegetables (the darker, the better), citrus fruit, berries, pomegranate, grapes, red wine, nuts, and green tea.
In addition to drinking plenty of water, eating foods with high water content like melon or cucumbers keeps the skin and body hydrated. A daily omega-3 supplement, like fish oil, can also help decrease inflammation and moisturize the skin from within, but make sure you check with your doctor before taking any new supplement.
Although the “chocolate causes acne” myth has lost momentum in recent years, there may be something to it after all. Research has shown that excess sugar intake can lead to increased insulin production, which in turn causes greater oil production in the skin, so stay away from refined sugars if you’re acne-prone.2
A recent study conducted at the University of Nottingham showed that a diet rich in carotenoids (found in tomatoes and carrots) can help to improve skin tone and give the skin a healthy glow that mimics the look of a suntan—all the more reason to skip the tanning bed!3
A smart rule of thumb is that if something is good for the body, it’s also healthy for the skin. Our skin reflects what we put into our bodies, so feed it well.
1. International Journal of Cosmetic Science. 10.111/j.1468-2494.2009.0013.x
An oral nutraceutical containing antioxidants, minerals and glycosaminoglycans improve skin roughness and fine wrinkles
M. Udompataikul, P. Sripiroj and P. Palungwachira
2. Huffington Post (2011, February 12). Acne: Are Milk and Sugar the Causes? http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mark-hyman/do-milk-and-sugar-cause-a_b_822163.html
3. Ian D. Stephen, Vinet Coetzee, David I. Perrett. Carotenoid and melanin pigment coloration affect perceived human health. Evolution and Human Behavior, 2010; DOI: 10.1016/j.evolhumbehave. 2010.09.003