Eating for Beauty: The Best Diet for Healthy, Clear Skin
Regardless of how much attention you are actively paying to your diet, you have surely noticed that you feel better or worse depending on what you ate that day.
Some foods make you bloated, some make you energized, others- fatigued.
How you feel in relation to food is fairly easy to deduce, on the other hand, how food affects the way you look may be a bit more difficult to figure out.
Our body fights really hard to maintain that healthy fresh look and that energized feeling by constantly flushing out toxins.
The first line of defense is- your gut, kidneys, and skin.
This is where you will first notice changes that reflect bad nutrition, however, the symptoms may be as subtle as you look tired, or your skin is not as dewy as before. You can appear older than you are or have a grayish, sickly complexion.
The more prominent changes are rashes, acne, redness, and itchiness.
All of which we tend to attribute to overexposure to the sun, natural monthly hormonal shifts, or an allergic reaction to a face cream.
Yes, outside factors can sometimes be the cause of your skin’s health, and you should take them into consideration, however, more often than not, issues showing on your skin are closely related to the food you are eating.
So next time, instead of spending thousands of dollars on a new skincare product, when you notice your complexion change in either direction, think about your diet in the previous week.
Try to observe a pattern between eating certain foods and how it affects your skin.
To avoid bad effects simply avoid foods that cause them, and opt for those that make you look dewy and fresh.
Each person has slightly different preferences; nonetheless, we created a list of foods and, even more specifically, substances that you should base your nutrition on in order to have healthy, clear skin.
Before we begin, let us mention that nutrition itself will not cure everything.
To get the most out of it you need to embrace a healthy lifestyle and that (along with eating healthy) entails-exercising, getting 7-8 hours of sleep, avoiding sun tanning without skin protection, and no cigarettes.
Do not be surprised that some of the foods find their application in face creams, scrubs, tonics, and various home remedies. Skin is highly absorbent both from the outside and from the inside.
If you are decisive about purchasing an anti-aging, collagen face cream, why not do the same from the inside, and help your skin heal itself naturally by using all that is available in foods and drinks?
WHAT DOES YOUR SKIN NEED?
Each food contains a lot of different nutrients and it is difficult to know what food contains which the most. So here’s a little help.
One of those things you hear everywhere is that water is essential for the proper functioning of your entire body. Skin is no exception. It needs hydration to look young and dewy.
There is a general opinion that you should drink 6-8 glasses of water per day.
This, however, cannot be applied to everyone as water intake needs depend on your weight, amount of physical activity and the climate you live in.
It is expected that a person living in a hot, dry climate will require substantially more water than somebody living in a cold or moderate climate.
The same rule applies when it comes to physical activity – the more active you are the more water you need.
The general rule of thumb is that you should drink additional 350ml of water for each hour of a (strenuous) activity.
If you are wondering how much water you should drink, there are online calculators that can help you determine the appropriate amounts.
Drinking plain water is not the only way of hydration. Drinking tea and coffee also counts. In addition to that, eating fruit and vegetables with a high percentage of water helps too. Eat foods like cucumbers, celery, strawberries, watermelon, and others.
Beware of juices, though, since they contain more sugar and less nutritive fibers so they can still damage your skin rather than help it. Instead of juicing it, eat an apple and drink a glass of water.
Protein helps in building healthy tissue that makes skin strong and elastic.
It is most commonly found in meats (from humanely-raised, pasture animals) and it contains a lot of amino acids, Vitamin B12 and D. If you do not eat meat, there is a solution- beans and legumes.
It is true that they contain a lot of phyto-proteins; however, it is difficult for your body to use them, so prepare your beans and legumes carefully, for example by fermentation.
In this way, you will make them more digestible and the nutrients will be easily used.
3. Healthy Fat
Pasture-raised meats and cold water fish are a great source of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.
They can also be found in avocados, seeds, and nuts. How do they help your skin?
They fight inflammation which can cause redness and itchiness along with cystic acne.
4. Vitamin A, C, and E
Those vitamins are antioxidants and they help repair damaged skin, improve the production of collagen, help allergic skin reactions, and protect the skin from free radicals that cause premature aging (among other things).
You can find them in broccoli, carrots, garlic, citruses, apples, cabbage, and many others.
5. B complex Vitamins
B Vitamins are usually found in combination with protein-rich foods (B12 can be found only in animal foods). They help combat your skin’s dryness.
This is why many skincare products have a B12 component.
Green tea and citrus fruits (lemon, orange, grapefruit, etc. ) are the sources of quercetins (a type of flavonoid- another antioxidant) which reduce skin reactions.
Also one of the reasons there are many face creams based on some or other citrus fruit, and many home-made skin treatments include green tea.
Some other nutrients (many of which are, again, antioxidants) that promote skin health are zinc, lycopene, beta-carotene, lutein, selenium, manganese, and many, many others.
Now here is a list of foods which are packed with many of those skin-friendly substances.
FOODS TO EAT FOR HEALTHY, CLEAR SKIN
Picking the right diet for your healthy skin has never been easier since there are so many healthy options for you to choose from, and only a few to avoid.
1. Salmon, Mackerel, Tuna
Wild-caught, cold water fish such as those three are a great source of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.
The catch with those nutrients is that the body cannot produce them by itself, which is why it is essential for your skin to obtain them through food.
How do fatty acids affect your skin?
They keep the inflammation away -any skin reaction such as a rash for example.
A significant improvement has been noticed with conditions like eczema and psoriasis- characterized by dryness and itchiness. Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids soothe your skin.
Avocado is a non-animal source of those fatty acids. Include it in your daily nutrition and just watch your skin become more elastic and softer.
Even if you do not have any of those aforementioned conditions, the benefits are there for you to reap.
Well, scientists claim that, since fatty acids come combined with Vitamin E, a natural antioxidant, they actually promote anti-aging and overall health of your skin.
Avocados can be used in various combinations as they go well with salty and sweet foods. It is a power fruit recommended for its benefits to your entire body, not just the skin.
Whether you opt for Brazil nuts, walnut, almond or any other nut out there, you will not make a mistake. Nuts are a favorite healthy snack, even substituting chocolate, for many reasons.
Vitamn E, Selenium, and Omega-3 fatty acids are just some of the reasons to make nuts a part of your daily diet.
They fight off inflammation, keep skin cancer away, and even out your complexion, especially if you are likely to develop any kind of discoloration.
Almond milk is a great solution for those of you who need to avoid dairy. It is tasty and it does not help Candida grow as regular milk does.
All types of berries- strawberries, raspberries, and especially blueberries are powerful antioxidant fruits, and they prevent oxygen caused damage to your skin. But this is not all.
Thanks to anthocyanins, berries take care of natural collagen production.
Another thing about berries is that they have a low GI, which means they are not as sugary as other fruits.
That makes them a ‘go to’ fruit if you are having serious breakouts and acne, especially if they are caused by Candida.
Berries act like pre-biotics as well, healing your gut and reducing skin inflammation.
5. Leafy Green Veggies
Leafy green veggies and other dark green vegetables are loaded with Vitamins C, A, and E, and despite their green color- beta- carotene as well. Spinach, celery, cabbage, and Kale (some call it the ultimate superfood) are all those vegetables you should have on your diet each day.
They are said to prevent cancer, even out your skin so it feels and appears smooth, and many more.
Leafy greens, with Kale ‘the superfood’ as the frontrunner, are rich in Vitamin K.
Blood clotting and circulation is promoted by it so it helps small lacerations heal faster, speeds up healing of the bruises and lowers the number of spider veins.
6. Red and Orange Veggies
Carrots, squash, tomatoes, red and yellow peppers and other vegetables of these colors are great source of various antioxidants.
The first one that comes to mind is beta-carotene which is the one responsible for the orange/red color.
Does its name sound familiar? It is because it is found in almost every sun protection cream, it soothes the skin, preventing sun damage.
Other beneficial nutrients are lycopene (tomatoes, peppers), Vitamin A(squash, carrots,), and even Vitamin C (yellow bell pepper) -all powerful antioxidants with special powers to protect the skin from harmful UV rays and sun caused damage.
They also keep your skin from over-producing itself, and, consequently, developing skin cancer.
Organically raised meets, especially beef, and poultry contain protein which is essential for building collagen and elastic tissue.
When collagen is damaged, your skin looks dull and is not as capable to withstand harmful outside factors and free radicals.
Along with protein, meets are rich in B complex Vitamins and are the only natural source of B12. Zinc, which is a powerful antioxidant, can also be found in meets and help fight off free radicals that damage and age your skin.
Despite the belief that it is actually not good for you and your skin due to the fact that it is a diuretic which means it drains out fluids, and that it contains substances that damage collagen, coffee found its place on the list of ‘go to’ beans for skin care.
Why is that?
The downsides of drinking coffee can be eliminated by simply limiting your daily caffeine intake. Drinking a cup or two of this favorite drink will not cause skin problems.
The fact is, it can do completely the opposite.
Coffee has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory substances – Vitamin B3 (niacin), chlorogenic acid (CGA), and melanoidins.
B3 is crucial in preventing skin cancer while CGA and melanoidins help reduce redness, hyper-pigmentation (e.g. sun spots), and smaller wrinkles.
Due to its antibacterial properties, CGA aids and prevents skin infections that can cause serious breakouts.
Using freshly- made, cooled down coffee on sunburns can speed up the healing, and slow down anti-aging process.
9. Dark Chocolate
Yes, chocolate contains a lot of sugar which is not healthy for your skin so do not overindulge. A bar a day will not cause trouble, that is if you opt for the type with 70% (or more) cocoa.
If you want to avoid eating chocolate and adding sugar to your diet but you still want to reap the benefits of cocoa, you can always get the organic cocoa powder and make yourself a nice cup of hot cocoa.
Why is it good for you? Aside from being a top energizer and a mood enhancer, cocoa contains flavonoids, another type of antioxidants, that helps keep skin’s suppleness, reduces wrinkles, and even acts like an internal sun protecting agent.
No wonder coconuts are on this list! If you decide to implement it into your nutrition you will see benefits almost in an instant. You can consume raw coconut, coconut water or even butter and oil and you will not be mistaken.
Coconut has antimicrobial properties due to caprylic acid it contains. Caprylic acid heals your gut by destroying various bacteria and Candida- a fungus which causes breakouts and inflammation. In addition, coconuts (especially coconut water) are rich in potassium and electrolytes that hydrate skin keeping it fresh.
FOODS TO AVOID
Here is a list of foods that you should avoid, or cut out from your diet altogether.
If you are not one of those people with the will power to deprive themselves of an occasional guilty pleasure, it is okay, just make sure that you consume those foods in moderation.
So, what are the biggest enemies of your skin?
It is completely obvious that alcohol does not belong in a healthy diet plan.
Aside from the fact that its overconsumption causes hangovers, it also has a negative effect on your skin.
All the symptoms you are experiencing (headaches, dizziness, languor…) come as a consequence of cellular dehydration.
Newsflash, alcohol dehydrates. Your skin cells are deprived of water which results in looking pale or even grayish.
One of the main ingredients in alcohol is sugar which causes acne breakouts. Is this reason enough to avoid it?
If you still want to enjoy an occasional glass of wine, make it a rule to drink a glass of water for each glass of an alcoholic drink, it will somewhat neutralize the harmful, dehydrating effects.
The reason why sushi is on this list is that it contains a lot of salt and rice and both of them have bad effects on your skin.
Salt sucks the water out of your skin so it can not appear glowy and radiant, and rice causes breakouts. Salty foods cause you to retain fluids and fluid retention makes you look puffy and waxy.
Surprisingly, rice somehow wound up on the ‘avoid’ list although it is generally considered a healthy food.
Why is that?
Rice causes blotches and acne by damaging molecules called Advanced Glycation End-products (AGEs).
Rice is also high on the glycemic index scale. Foods with high GI cause breaking down of collagen which in turn leads to irritable and dry skin with breakouts.
Milk is another controversial food on this list. Milk that is store-bought comes from cow farms, those cows are, more often than not, pregnant or have just given birth to a calf.
The milk you buy is loaded with pregnancy hormones.
This affects your skin the same way as if you were giving yourself a dose of estrogen each time you drink a glass of milk.
The hormone imbalance causes breakouts, redness, and even dark spots on your skin, just like when women get pregnant (the negative effects of milk are also applied to men, as their hormone levels also change).
Buy organic or raw cow milk from a local farm, where you can be sure that cows eat grass and are not used for reproduction and mass milk production.
Many people consider cereal the healthiest breakfast food (whole-wheat and all that).
However, the majority of cereal contains genetically modified substances, sugar, and other artificial chemicals that human bodies cannot use.
If you insist on consuming cereal, carefully look at the ingredients list and opt for the one that contains less than 5g of sugar per serving, and check all those chemicals.
6. Processed Meats
Store-bought processed meats contain a high level of sodium, salt, and sugar. Consuming a lot of sodium dries out your skin and makes your wrinkles more prominent.
Combine wrinkles, puffiness (salt), and breakouts (sugar) and you have a winning combo for dull, older looking, problematic skin.
Admittedly, juices are healthier than sodas; however, they do contain almost as much sugar.
With consuming too much sugar, skin collagen breaks down, allowing the microscopic damages to get infected and break out into acne.
To reap the benefits of a juice, make a smoothie. It will retain more of the molecular structure of nutritive fibers of a piece of fruit than if you simply juice it. The best option? Skip juices and eat raw fruits instead.
Aside from damaging collagen, sugar raises your insulin level and this has been scientifically proven to cause breakouts.
Foods that contain sugar have a high GI index like rice, fruits, and white bread which break down collagen.
Aside from an overall healthy lifestyle, daily skin care, and sun protection in order to have a beautiful, enviable complexion, you need to pay close attention to what you are eating.
Everything you eat or drink will show on your face. The choice is yours whether your diet will cause your skin to look younger and healthier, or if it will show signs of malnutrition.
This does not mean that you should never eat a piece of cake or drink a glass of wine. The key is in moderation.
Base your daily nutrition on the foods on our list, and strive to avoid the harmful ones, and your skin will be able to ‘survive’ an occasional slip, without permanent consequences on your skin and overall health.
Although those slips into diets that are not skin-friendly can cause a zit or two, it is not the end of the world. Just quickly go back to feeding your skin the nutrients it needs.
Your body will be grateful and will reward you with glowing, fabulous skin in no time.
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