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    What is the best food for skin care? Here's a Simple Nutrient Guide

    The Best and Worst Foods for Your Skin when Clearing Up Acne, Eczema, Dermatitis, and More

    Table of Contents:

    Many people with skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, acne, and more spend thousands of dollars over the years seeking an effective treatment.

    We don’t blame them, of course.

    The frustrations birthed from constant itching, flaking or breakouts is enough to drive anyone to the edge. The problem is many of the skincare products out there are laced with chemicals and toxins that actually aggravate the skin.

    The good news?

    Relief for many skin problems may be as close as your kitchen or grocery store.

    Your skin is the largest organ in your body, and just as there are certain foods that are good or bad for your heart, there are foods good for skin and influence its overall health, too.

    How Do the Food You Eat Affect the Health of Your Skin?

    You probably have a daily skincare regimen using your favorite cleansers, lotions and creams. However, that’s only half of what it takes to have great skin.

    Skin issues are almost always an outward sign of an inward problem. That’s why many conditions respond so well once the inner environment is changed and supported with the right nutrients. So while natural skincare products nurture the outer layer of your skin, the foods you eat can either heal or damage from the inside out.

    If you choose the right nutrients, you can help protect your skin from damage and assist the production of new healthy skin cells.

    Here's a great list of foods from WebMD that are high in specific vitamins and minerals. Even if you don’t have any skin issues, these are foods that we can all benefit from regardless.

    How to Eat for 7 Common Skin Issues

    For those who are struggling with your skin, let’s take a look at a few specific conditions and see how you can use diet as a natural remedy.

    Following the recommended list of “do’s” and “don’ts” can go a long way to improving your skin for good. And don't worry, they aren't drastic changes to your lifestyle!

    Eczema

    Eczema is so common it has its own month. October is National Eczema Awareness Month. Eczema (also known as atopic dermatitis) causes irritated, itchy skin and oozing blisters. Over time, leathery patches of skin can appear.

    Eczema is very common in children under the age of 2, but people of any age can be affected. Specific triggers (a certain food, stress, etc.) can cause outbreaks to become unbearable. Such triggers vary from person to person, but there are a few diet-related “do’s” and “don’ts” that are beneficial across the board.  

    Since eczema is an inflammatory condition, eating anti-inflammatory foods can help reduce symptoms. These include fatty fish thanks to their potent anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids as well as quercetin-rich foods, which contain antioxidant-rich flavonoids while being natural antihistamines.  

    Foods to Enjoy:

    • Fish oil, salmon, tuna, herring and trout
    • Blueberries, kale, apples
    • Probiotics: Found in yogurt and supplements.

    Foods to Avoid:

    On the flip side, you should avoid inflammatory foods and those that trigger common food allergies such as:

    • Soy products
    • Cow's milk and other dairy products
    • Eggs
    • Gluten found in wheat and other grains
    • Peanuts and tree nuts
    • Nightshade veggies: Tomatoes (including ketchup and pasta sauce), peppers, eggplant, potatoes and tobacco.
    • Acidic foods: Tomatoes, citrus, pineapples, etc.

    Psoriasis

    Psoriasis is an autoimmune skin condition that causes scaly, white patches on the skin. Scientists now believe that psoriasis happens when T cells within the immune system are mistakenly activated, resulting in rapid turnover of skin cells and swelling. Some researchers have also pinpointed leaky gut as a likely cause of psoriasis, which makes sense considering over 80% of the immune system lives in your gut.

    For this reason, a diet that focuses on fighting inflammation and strengthening intestinal permeability can be great for treating psoriasis naturally. These include probiotic-rich foods, which support digestion, reduce inflammation and bolster immunity.

    You should also include foods high in zinc as it plays a critical role in healthy skin. In addition, vitamin D has been clinically shown to fight psoriasis, so include some fatty fish and raw dairy as well.

    Interestingly enough, researchers are also finding thatlosing weight – even just a little – can help.

    Foods to Enjoy:

    • Kefir, yogurt, cultured veggies
    • Chickpeas, pumpkin seeds
    • Fruits, beans and vegetables, especially those high in vitamin A and vitamin D
    • Wild-caught sardines and salmon
    • Eggs

    Foods to Avoid:

    • Gluten as it’s been shown to induce inflammation and aggravate leaky gut
    • Trans fats and saturated fats
    • Foods high in cholesterol
    • Processed foods
    • Foods high in refined sugars and salt

    Acne

    Acne outbreaks, related to clogged pores and overactive oil glands, are every teen’s nightmare. However, acne often persists well into our adult years, and diet can play a large part in that - especially foods that affect blood sugar.

    When blood glucose levels rise suddenly, it triggers the release of insulin, and too much insulin in the blood triggers excess oil production in your oil glands. To avoid this and the acne that comes along with it, you should avoid insulin-spiking foods, including high-glycemic carbs.

    On the flip side, eating low-glycemic foods helps reduce acne as well as foods rich in vitamins A and E thanks to their anti-inflammatory effects.  

    Foods to Enjoy:

    • Carrots, sweet potatoes
    • Leafy greens
    • Quinoa
    • Fatty fish
    • Legumes

    Foods to Avoid:

    • Junk and processed foods (including snacks like potato chips and most breakfast cereals)
    • White rice
    • Cow's milk
    • Sugar
    • Greasy foods, especially fast foods
    • Pasta

    Rashes

    A rash is a skin irritation that can be caused by many things – most of which are minor, but some can be serious. Any rash lingering more than a few days and paired with other symptoms warrants a visit to your doctor.

    However, the occasional random rash is often just your body’s way of saying that it didn’t respond well to a certain trigger or that it needs something specific like a vitamin or mineral.

    In order for your body to produce new skin cells, you need both protein for their amino acids and glucose for fuel. Beans are an excellent source of both, helping to promote the growth of new skin.

    Since many rashes are related in some way to your immune system, immune-boosting nutrients like vitamins C and A should be consumed as well.

    Foods to Enjoy:

    • To relieve itching: Foods high in vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E.
    • Drink lots of water and eat "watery" foods such as cucumbers and watermelons
    • Orange-colored fruits & veggies
    • Dark, leafy greens
    • Omega-3 fish

    Foods to Avoid:

    As long as the rash persists, you should avoid common food allergens as well as inflammatory foods and those that aggravate leaky gut such as:

    • All processed foods
    • Gluten
    • Nuts
    • Soy
    • Yeast-based foods
    • Artificial sweeteners

    Aging

    We all have to deal with aging skin sooner or later. The good news is that we can use food to slow the signs of aging. This includes collagen proteins since our collagen levels naturally decrease as we age.

    And of course we have to talk about free radicals as they are the primary cause of aging skin. In order to fight free radicals, you need to consume an abundance of antioxidant-rich foods. Other antioxidant-rich nutrients include flavonoids and polyphenols.

    Then there’s the super antioxidant known as astaxanthin - the anti-aging nutrient responsible for salmon’s pinkish hue.

    Foods to Enjoy:

    • Collagen-rich foods like bone broth or gelatin
    • Antioxidant-rich fruits such as blueberries
    • Dietary fiber from fruits, beans and veggies (especially broccoli)
    • Salmon and other fatty fish
    • Figs (rich in flavonoids and polyphenols)
    • Yogurt
    • Nuts

    Foods to Avoid:

    • Margarine - A trans fat that destroys hydration. Less hydration equals more wrinkles!)
    • Baked goods - almost always high in sugar, which is inflammatory and negatively alters your gut microbes
    • Processed meats - contains preservatives that can create age-inducing free radicals

    Oily Skin

    Oily skin has coarse pores and is prone to blackheads and pimples. The "oil" is caused by overactive sebaceous glands. Sometimes this is just thanks to your genes, but even if that’s the case, changing your diet can help control sebaceous gland production.

    As mentioned with acne, you should avoid high-glycemic carbs, which stimulates a domino effect with insulin and oil production. You should also replace oil-producing saturated fats with quality omega-3 fats.

    Foods to Enjoy:

    • Tuna
    • Salmon
    • Walnuts
    • Flaxseeds
    • Foods rich in vitamin B2 including wheat germ, organ meats and whole grains

    Foods to Avoid:

    • Refined sugar
    • Pasta
    • Pork and animal fats
    • Hydrogenated oils like canola or vegetable oil
    • Processed dairy (can increase hormone production that leads to oily skin)

    Dry Skin

    Possible causes of dry skin include bathing to frequently with harsh soaps as well as aging, some medical conditions and dry winter air. To remedy dry skin, you need to encourage your body to lock in more moisture. Your body needs sufficient levels of fatty acids to protect the outer lipid layer of your skin, so omega-3 foods are recommended.

    Also, fruits contain a tri-fold benefit for dry skin thanks to their water, vitamin and antioxidant content - all of which help fight dry skin. On top of that, lipoic acid has been shown to reduce dry skin. Lipoic acid-rich foods include tomatoes, liver and leafy greens.

    Foods to Enjoy:

    • Omega-3 fish and oysters
    • Citrus fruits like orange and grapefruit
    • Olive oil
    • Cucumbers

    Foods to Avoid that Induce Dehydration:

    • Alcohol
    • Popcorn
    • Caffeine: energy drinks or more than 3 cups of coffee
    • Soy sauce

    Summary

    As you can see, the overall takeaway for your skin and diet is to eat healthy, drink enough water and avoid processed foods.

    So many people suffer unnecessarily when a simple diet change could help alleviate their skin conditions. For the problems that persist, all-natural, chemical-free skincare products may be able to help. The benefit of “eating for a cure”, of course, is that a good diet for your skin will be great for your overall health too!