Do you have bothersome acne that won’t go away, no matter what you try? Or maybe your skin is extremely dry and you want to prevent early-onset wrinkles. While occasional breakouts and wrinkling with age are inevitable, a lot of people don’t realize that the foods they eat play a HUGE role in skin health. By making a few small changes to your diet, you might notice the miracle of fewer breakouts and younger-looking skin.
I remember when I used to go back and forth to the dermatologist for an answer to how I could destroy my acne. Never once did she mention diet, but instead prescribed me pills that caused terrible side effects. It wasn’t until I started making changes to my diet that my skin finally started to clear up. While it’s still far from perfect, I can attest to all of the tips I have listed below. I hope they help you, too!
Avoid Inflammatory Foods.
Acne and other skin problems are an indication that inflammation is present. Inflammation is essentially a “fire” in your body. To “put out” the fire, you must figure out the reason why it started in the first place. Often times, it stems from the foods that we eat. Some common culprits: processed junk foods (cookies, chips, refined grains, frozen TV dinners and pizzas, etc.), sugar sweetened beverages (pop, energy drinks, juice, sports drinks, etc.), fast food, and alcohol.
There are also some not-so-common culprits that can cause inflammation in some people, foods and ingredients we often think of as healthy but can actually be causing harm. This list includes the following: gluten, grains, dairy, and vegetable oils. Some people break-out from eating eggs, nuts/seeds, and even some fruits and veggies. If you just cannot seem to get to the bottom of your troublesome skin issues, you may want to try an elimination diet to see if you can detect the culprit. If you decide to do an elimination diet, be sure to reach out to a qualified nutrition professional who can support you along the way.
Eat Your Probiotics.
These are otherwise known as fermented foods. Good bacteria isn’t only important for digestion, it’s also good for your skin! This is because your skin hosts a variety of bacteria that can be good or bad depending on a variety of factors. Of course you want more good bacteria on your skin to keep it healthy. You can strive for an optimal good-to-bad bacteria balance by consuming probiotics! Try to include a serving of a fermented food in your diet every day. Here are some options:
-Plain, unflavored/unsweetened whole-milk yogurt
If you’re having trouble eating these foods, you may want to consider a probiotic supplement (of course, talk with your doctor before taking one!).
Say No to Added Sugar.
Sugar is added to everything these days. Even if you think you’ve eliminated all the junk food, there could still be lots of it hiding in your diet. Store-bought salad dressings, sauces, condiments, flavored yogurt, breads, granola and snack bars, salsa, etc., often have sugar added to them. Even if it’s not a lot, it can add up especially if you eat these things regularly. Excess sugar consumption can be highly inflammatory, so it’s important to watch how much you eat if you want healthy skin.
To stay on top of your sugar intake, check food labels and ingredient lists on everything that you buy. If it has sugar added to it, you may want to reconsider buying it and replace it with a healthier option. To make it even more confusing, there are over 60 different “names” for sugar that can be hard to spot on ingredient lists. Luckily, SugarScience has a comprehensive list of these names here.
The general recommendation is for men to consume no more than 9 tsp of added sugar daily, and no more than 6 tsp for women. This is shocking, considering the fact that some 12-oz sodas have 11 tsp of sugar added to them!
Collagen is essentially gelatin that hasn’t been heated up. It’s the main structural protein found in animal connective tissue – it makes up our cartilage, tendons, ligaments, skin, and bones. Collagen production decreases as we age, hence the reason why supplementing with it can be beneficial for improving the overall appearance of your skin. Your skin is your biggest organ, after all!
I personally like Vital Proteins collagen peptides – collagen peptides are hydrolyzed, which means they are broken down or pre-digested, making them easy for your body to absorb and use. They’re different from gelatin because they don’t thicken when they are cooled or added to liquids. You can add them to smoothies, yogurt, nut butters, oatmeal, coffee, tea, and even water as a daily protein supplement. My favorite way to use them is by adding them to smoothies, like my peanut butter cup banana smoothie!
Eat More Fat
*Gasp* – A dietitian is telling you to eat more fat?! Yep, you heard, or read that correctly. The right types of fats can be incredibly anti-inflammatory. Believe it or not, fat is an important component of all the cells in your body. Healthy fats can help you keep your skin looking young and fresh. Think foods like wild-caught salmon, olive oil, olives, avocado, and nuts and seeds. Add more of these foods and less of the inflammation-producing foods that I listed earlier.
As you can see, it’s really as simple as getting rid of the junk and eating real foods. Focus on eating plenty of fruits and vegetables to ensure you’re getting the nutrients and antioxidants that your skin needs to thrive. In addition, eat minimally processed protein sources and healthy fats to support your skin’s overall structure and appearance.
Now, I want to hear from you! What are YOUR best skin tips?!