19 Best Foods For Skin (Plus 7 of the Worst)
The beauty industry wants you to believe that glowing skin is all about expensive procedures or toxic creams, but here’s something they’re not telling you…
The foods you eat play a tremendous role in the health of your skin. Your skin is your magic mirror giving you great clues about your overall health.
Here are some of the best foods for skin, as well as some of the worst, to help you on your path to glowing, more youthful-looking skin, naturally.
THE 19 BEST FOODS FOR SKIN
Keeping your skin hydrated and elastic is a lot easier than you may realize. Just drinking eight glasses of water a day will do wonders for your skin.
But for the combined benefits of water and electrolytes (electrolyte-rich fluids are amazing!) you can simply replace 1 to 2 glasses of plain water with coconut water, which also adds a little sweetness to your hydration without the guilt.
Exposure to sun and environmental toxins can wreak havoc on our skin. That’s why powering up on antioxidants is a simple and tasty way to boost your protection against harmful elements.
Aiming for eight or more daily servings of great skin foods that are antioxidant rich — is a snap, and delicious too! Sip on green tea for a midday pick-me-up or use it as the liquid in your morning smoothie. Green tea contains EGCG, a polyphenol with potent antioxidant effects.
Tapping into the glow-enhancing effects of collagen can be like a fountain of youth for tired, aging skin. Eating more of the right kinds of protein can help heal the skin, while delivering the essential amino acids to help boost our outward glow.
What’s green, full of good fats, and great for your skin and heart? Try making “an avocado a day” your mantra and add the yummy fatty fruit to your daily diet for results you can see and feel from the inside out.
Avocados are rich in antioxidants such as Vitamin E, loaded with healthy fats (monounsaturated), and are good for your body and skin. Add a hit of antioxidant protection with a lunchtime salad of leafy greens with avocado.
For an extra avocado double whammy, try a hydrating face mask with mashed up avocado, honey and lemon, and feel your skin soak in the smooth, silky oils that are good enough to eat.
SAUERKRAUT, KIMCHI, & YOGURT
Did you know that noshing on sauerkraut and kimchi can give your skin added reasons to glow from the inside out? Research has shown fermented foods are full of probiotics (beneficial bacteria) that can give digestion a healthy boost and kick your gut microbiome into high gear.
Adding natural probiotics to your diet can be way easier than you think: sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, yogurt, kefir, and even apple cider vinegar harness the probiotic power of fermented foods. Instead of making drastic overhauls to your diet, try swapping kombucha for soda, or try yogurt with live cultures, and see the transformation to your skin over time!
If you’re avoiding dairy, coconut yogurt can also double as a tasty fermented food that is gentle on your tummy. And adding a microbiome supplement can also be a simple way to get some probiotic power into your daily diet.
Eating fish provides us with inflammation-busting Omega 3’s, but being the big fish isn’t always a good thing. We need to take care to avoid larger fish that may contain toxins.
Why? Since large, carnivorous fish like tuna, swordfish, shark and halibut are at the top of the food chain, they are more likely to have higher levels of toxins like mercury and PCBs.
Opt for the smaller fish in the sea, such as wild caught salmon, mackerel, sardines and anchovies that boast healthy fats that can lead to radiant skin. Omega-3 fatty acids in these fish can combat inflammation and fight cancer.
Not a fan of fish? You can get many of the same benefits in a supplement.
Not only is tea a great way to relax and destress, a steaming cup of goodness may be just the solution for luminous skin, too. Herbal teas like dandelion and milk thistle are excellent detoxifiers that can support healthy kidney and liver function.
These teas enhance strong immune systems while helping bring the glow back to your skin with powerful antioxidant properties. Want to soothe your skin from the inside out? Ginger tea is a wonderful tummy soother that can aid in digestion and decrease inflammation of the skin while increasing natural radiance.
Chamomile is another herbal tea that can work wonders on your skin on the outside while calming and detoxifying on the inside. An added bonus: after you steep your tea, soothe puffy eyes with cooled chamomile bags. The anti-inflammatory qualities in chamomile tea bags also take the sting out of insect bites, eczema and dermatitis.
HERBS & SPICES
Herbs and spices inject flavor into your favorite recipes but did you know that many spices have anti-inflammatory properties that can play an important role in your skin care regime?
Certain herbs and spices can keep glowing skin vibrant and elastic by fighting wrinkles, soothing redness and boosting collagen. Cinnamon adds a warm, spicy quality to baked goods and hot drinks, and also packs a punch to combat skin damage with more antioxidants than half a cup of blueberries. Balanced blood sugar is another great benefit of cinnamon.
Ancient spice turmeric has been used for centuries in Eastern cultures, and its power as an antioxidant is proven through scientific research. Add turmeric to steamed or stir fried veggies, beans, and on your favorite soups to improve your skin’s overall health from the inside out.
Other herbs and spices that improve skin’s natural glow include oregano, cloves, ginger and garlic. To keep spices at their top power, toss out any that are more than two years old and always store in cool, dark cupboards — heat from the stove and sunlight will destroy their potency.
COLORFUL VEGGIES & FRUITS
Achieving beautiful, hydrated, dewy skin can be as simple as eating the rainbow. A balanced, rich diet full of a wide array of colorful, fresh fruits and veggies will ensure you’re getting enough minerals, phytonutrients, and antioxidants to ward off free radical damage and fight other signs of aging.
I recommend to my patients, that they aim to eat 6 or more servings of colorful vegetables and 2 or more servings of fruit. But eating the rainbow doesn’t have to be a chore.
Even frozen vegetables and fruits are found to be great for you — so go ahead and throw some extra veggies in your soups and frozen berries in your morning smoothies. And make a game of it with your family to see how many colors of the rainbow you can eat each day!
PROTEIN & AMINO ACIDS
Packing a protein punch is a great way to boost your body’s all-important building blocks needed for smooth, supple skin. Nine essential amino acids found in different types of protein are the hidden secret for collagen production which can enhance the youthful, vibrant glow of your skin.
Collagen accounts for 30 percent of the body’s total protein. But beefing up your protein intake doesn’t have to be complicated. Set up a meal plan and spread out the protein between animal, plant and legume sources to keep your appetite invigorated. Grass-fed beef, organic poultry, even wild fish and all kinds of nuts are some of the best foods for glowing skin because they deliver ample amounts of amino acids that boost collagen production.
Rocking the vegan lifestyle? Pea protein is my favorite for an amazing balance of amino acids. It’s also low allergenic – unlike soy, whey and egg protein. And it’s easy to add to soups and breakfast smoothies.
VITAMIN A RICH FOODS
Loading up on Vitamin A rich skin foods like carrots, sweet potatoes and dark leafy greens helps prevent premature wrinkles and bumpy skin, and can protect you from the harmful exposure of UV rays.
Bold colored orange and green veggies are packed with Vitamin A power, but this skin nourishing A-lister is also found in egg yolks and liver. Not only does it enhance your outer radiance and skin suppleness, Vitamin A has also received attention in it’s active form — retinoids — which can heal troubling skin conditions including acne, psoriasis, eczema and cold sores.
VITAMIN C RICH FOODS
Vitamin C is about much more than drinking a glass of orange juice in the morning. It’s surprisingly simple to get this vital building block into your daily diet — and it’s essential for collagen synthesis that can help you turn back the clock and replace wrinkles with pure radiance.
Supple skin with a youthful glow gets a welcome boost with a diet rich in Vitamin C, which has antioxidant properties of ascorbic acid that may help block and reverse UV-induced photodamage. Beyond citrus fruits, Vitamin C-rich foods include broccoli, strawberries. A cup of red bell peppers contains three times the amount of Vitamin C as an orange!
For extra vitamin C and a yummy fizzy drink (without the sugar), try my Vitamin C Fizz.
Goldilocks and those bears had the right idea when they gobbled down steaming bowls of oatmeal. Oatmeal is a nutritious whole grain that packs some serious punch when it comes to being a great skin food that ensures a smooth, radiant complexion.
Starting your day with oatmeal means you’ll reap the benefits of its glycation balancing perks. Your energy levels will be nicely balanced and you’ll even find yourself powering through the mid-morning bonk that often accompanies an energy crash after the sugar high you can get from other breakfast foods.
Talk about a powerhouse veggie that can boost your skin’s healthy, luminous sheen! Just one cup of kale has twice the daily recommended intake of Vitamin A and Vitamin C, both of which are essential for blasting the oxidative, damaging effects of sun and building glow-boosting collagen.
Studies also show kale is packed with free-radical blockers, lutein and zeaxanthin, which actually neutralize and soak up wavelengths of UV light that sunscreens can’t prevent. Introducing kale into your diet is really easy: add handfuls to your morning smoothie, mix it into greens at lunchtime, or steam on top of fish or chicken.
Kale chips are a healthy replacement for fried potato chips – try baking them at 300 degrees with avocado or coconut oil and a sprinkling of sea salt for a tasty snack that nourishes your skin from the inside out.
Not only do oysters have a sizzling reputation for heating up the bedroom, these little shellfish pack quite the punch as one of the best natural sources of dietary zinc.
Research suggests the mineral may help in the growth and functioning of skin cells, so eating just six of these suckers (at less than 60 calories) means you’re introducing 500 percent of your daily need to boost your blush and help restore that dewy glow to your skin. Talk about turning up the heat without any makeup!
Not an oyster fan? You can still reap the rewards of zinc by taking a supplement.
Chocolate isn’t just for Valentine’s Day — dark chocolate can actually give your skin some good, good lovin’.
What’s the secret? Cacao beans from which chocolate is derived, are rich in antioxidants called flavanols, which may plump and hydrate skin, protect it from UV damage, and boost circulation for a healthy glow.
But not all chocolate is created equal. To reap the natural health benefits, steer clear of milk chocolate, which contains loads of sugar and dairy, and stick with 1-ounce portions (150 calories) of chocolate containing cacao in portions 70 percent or higher to maximize its health benefits. Who needs another excuse to pass the chocolate?
SEEDS & NUTS
Squirrels are onto something — nuts are one of the best skin foods around. Not only are the tiny packages chock full of protein, they contain essential minerals and vitamins that can be vital for keeping skin clear, smooth, and youthful.
Seeds and nuts also boast hydrating natural oils that can restore the hydration to skin and blast away wrinkles. Here are a few of my favorites: Macadamia nuts may boost collagen production and fight off free radical damage that can contribute to fine lines with phytochemicals. The Omega-3 fatty acids in walnuts may help reduce redness and inflammation. Almonds are packed full of selenium, manganese and Vitamin E, which can protect your skin against UV damage from the sun.
The bonus with these nuts is that their oils are also available at most health food stores and can be used as carriers for essential oils or to massage directly onto your skin for added hydration. And for a sneaky and yummy way to get a dose of chia seeds watch this video.
It turns out berries of all kinds are the hidden secret to arming your skin with potent antioxidant power. Anthocyanin, the pigment responsible for the vivid jewel tones of blue, red and purple found in blueberries, strawberries, cranberries, blackberries and raspberries, actually works to protect the skin from damage from free radicals in our surrounding environment.
Just half a cup of berries a day can help prevent premature aging and wrinkles.
Adding berries to your daily diet is easy as (blueberry) pie! Throw a handful in your breakfast smoothie, add to muffins and other baked goods, or toss on top of your salad with some lean protein or fish for a complete meal your skin will love.
One of the easiest ways to get glowing, dewy skin is by starting your day with a breakfast smoothie packed full of nutrients and hydration. It’s the ideal meal on the go to kickstart your day.
Imagine this: your body has been fasting overnight while you slept and is in need of nourishment fast to replenish and rejuvenate. That’s where the breakfast smoothie comes in. Keep it simple with berries and a non-sugary liquid like coconut water.
Try a green machine with veggies such as kale, celery, cucumber and detoxifying fresh herbs like parsley, cilantro and mint. I love adding pea protein powder or a supplement for an added amino acid kick that helps skin repair and restore itself for a youthful glow.
THE 7 WORST FOODS FOR SKIN
Remember the ‘80s tagline: “Milk, it does a body good”? Well, it turns out this is true… if you’re a baby cow.
One of the most dramatic ways to attain youthful, glowing skin free of inflammation and breakouts is by ditching dairy. Hormones in milk can speed up aging and cause a whole host of other skin problems. Dairy is highly inflammatory and can cause flare ups in acne, rosacea, and rashes.
To test your skin’s sensitivity to dairy, you’ll have to go off it for 12 weeks — that’s the lifespan of a typical skin cell so to really gauge any improvement to your complexion and skin vibrancy, you’ll have to be dairy-free to allow skin’s healing and cleansing to take place.
If you’re worried about reaching your daily calcium intake, substitute with coconut milk, almond milk and oat milk, which are fortified with calcium and other minerals. Sardines, leafy greens like kale, broccoli, and nuts like almonds are also packed full of calcium.
Not only is junk food high in saturated fats, salt and processed ingredients that leave your skin dull and acne prone, junk food hits you like a ton of bricks. It saps your energy and leaves you feeling sluggish.
As your body’s largest organ, your skin will take the brunt of the punishment as you indulge on junk. Breakouts, redness and oily complexion are just some ways your body will protest.
What do you do if you succumb to a stress-induced moment of junk food indulgence though? Try counteracting your cravings and helping your body speed up the purge by upping your water intake and noshing on nutritious, antioxidant rich foods like berries and protein. Flush out the toxins and your skin will return quicker to the soft, supple dewiness you remember.
Bananas are actually sugar bombs in disguise! One banana contains about three teaspoons of fructose (sugar) per 100 grams, or roughly the equivalent to half a Hershey’s milk chocolate bar (43 grams).
If you must go bananas, try boosting the nutritional value by adding a nut butter for a protein hit — and eat only half to limit unneeded sugar. And a not-so-ripe banana also has less sugar, so factor that into the equation if you go bananas for the fruit.
Need another reason to ditch the sodas and breakfast cereals? Look no further than the damaging effects of sugar. Not only can the artificial sweetness send you into a sugar coma that can sap your energy (making you feel tired and grumpy after the initial rush), sugar also can damage the smooth, supple, radiant look of your skin.
Here’s how: sugar triggers ‘glycation issues’ that can damage the collagen in your skin and lead to wrinkles and sagginess. To make matters worse, sugar can also cause flare ups in existing skin conditions like rosacea and acne.
It’s sweet and juicy, and when slathered with butter it reminds many of us of summertime cookouts. But corn has a dark side that we can’t ignore. Although it is commonly mistaken for a vegetable, corn is actually a grain with high glycemic index.
Corn has also come under fire for having a high probability of being linked to GMOs — today nearly 90 percent of all corn grown in the U.S. is considered genetically modified.
Allergies to GMO corn-related products, especially high fructose corn syrup, can rear their ugly heads in the form of skin rashes, achy joints and other skin irritations that are puzzling to trace and remedy.
CANNED / PACKAGED FOODS
Gone are the days when we pop plastic containers into the microwave or freezer. The reason is endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) such as bisphenol A (BPA), an industry chemical that has been used since the 1960s in everything from water bottles to canned foods and plastic wrap.
Commercially packaged foods may contain plasticizers (phthalates) and other plastics (BPA). As foods are heated, frozen or even stored, trace amounts of the chemicals can be released, eventually wreaking havoc on your body over time when you ingest them. These EDCs interfere with production, transport, breakdown, binding and elimination of hormones. Prolonged exposure to EDCs may affect the body’s hormonal system and homeostasis — or simply put, its natural, balanced state.
The solution is simple: store food in stainless steel, glass or ceramic containers instead of plastic. And keep packaged goods in your fridge and pantry to a bare minimum. Convenience is a small price to pay when it comes to your health!
While a glass of red wine here and there can introduce smooth skin loving antioxidants, hitting the bottle hard is going to affect your skin’s glow and elasticity for the worse. As a natural diuretic, alcohol dehydrates your entire body, and its after effects can be seen in breakouts, redness, inflammation and overall skin dryness.
Oh, and that hangover is your body’s snarky reminder that you haven’t kept tabs on hydration. One tip is for every glass of wine, cocktail or beer you drink, remember to down an 8-oz glass of water to counter the effects and ensure you’re staying properly hydrated.
Try not to consume more than four servings of alcohol in one sitting — your head will thank you as well as your healthy, glowing skin! And if you do drink one too many glasses of bubbly, in between glasses of plain water (the best rehydrator of them all) treat yourself to a nutrient-packed, antioxidant green juice with cucumber, cilantro, green apple, celery to jump start your body’s hydration.
When you eat foods that inflame your body, it will show up on your skin as skinflammation (acne, eczema, premature aging, and more!) Your skin can look dull, wrinkled and show other signs of damage and neglect.
But choosing nourishing foods and creating healthy eating habits doesn’t have to be difficult.
The simple change of eating just a few of these best foods for skin can transform your skin – and your life — and help it heal from the inside out, resulting in a radiant, supple look that will light up a room.