Disclaimer: this information is for educational purposes only and has not been evaluated by the FDA or CFIA. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please consult your primary care physician for advise on any of this.
Foods Good For Clear Skin
Have you noticed your skin looking dull, lackluster, bad-energy?
We’ve all had those days where our skin is just not feeling so great. If you are looking for the ultimate superfoods to help your skin, then look no further.
Here we have 9 foods that are loaded with minerals, nutrients and vitamins, which will not only make glowing skin like a new penny but also give it an extra layer of protection from free radicals.
Quick note before I get started: bone broth is among the healthiest foods for radiant skin. If you are looking for a delicious option that is loaded with 10 g collagen protein per cup, try Bluebird Provisions.
What's the biggest factor in getting healthy skin?
Your gut. Beauty comes from the inside. The old adage is true now more than ever. Today I'm talking about superfoods for healthy skin.
There are vitamins and minerals found in all food types that are required to build radiant skin. It's an inside job.
Protein, fats and carbohydrates are all useful together in order to build different parts. This is information you won't find in other articles.
Why Skin Health Declines
Skin health declines because of aging, and environmental factors like sun exposure, pollution, smoking, poor nutrition and sleep.
- Aging: affects our skin the same way it affects our organs. Aging leads to more a loss of hydration and a decrease in natural collagen production.
- Environmental factors: external factors like sun exposure (UV radiation), smoking, pollution, poor nutrition and sleep issues.
These two factors lead to oxidative stress and inflammation in your cells. As our cells become inflammedThese two topics cause oxidative stress and inflammation. In the long-term, they degrade our cells and cause them to die off. This can have negative effect our skin's outward appearance over time.
Prevention is the best strategy for protecting our skin from environmental factors. Remove all bad things, eat well, exercise, don't take risks... Basically live like a monk and have great skin. Easier said than done isn't it?
This lifestyle may not be completely realistic for you and I. We have lives to lead, after all.
What you can control is the food you eat. Let’s get into my tips and a few of the most researched superfoods for healthy skin.
The Best Diet To Eat For Skin Health
There is no single best diet to eat for skin health. You must always eat balanced meals without restriction in order to set yourself up for long-term success and health on your meal plan.
It's important to enjoy food and not be hard on yourself for eating what society deems as 'poorly' from time to time.
Being hard on yourself leads to shame and guilt, two emotions that cause discomfort and wreak havoc on your skin.
I would recommend you eat plenty of vegetables and fruits (including dark, leafy greens) along with adequate protein from animal (or plant) sources.
From here you can eat as many or as little starch / carb sources as you wish. If you are vigorously exercising and active then you probably require more.
Lastly, don't do any popular crash diets. We have 70+ years of evidence that they do not lead to long-term success. They actually lead to worse health outcomes than not dieting in the first place.
9 Best Foods Good For Healthy Skin
The best foods good for skin are bone broth, guava, fatty fish, avocados, dark chocolate, liver, seeds, spinach and algae.
Maybe the single best food for your skin.
One serving of guavas offer 628% of your RDA for Vitamin C and lots of water content. That is over 4 times more than oranges!
Vitamin C is crucial for collagen levels in your skin. It is the building block for all our connective tissues, including skin. When combined with E, it also protects us from sun burns (Ex: UVB radiation) (1).
They have 21% of your daily vitamin A, which is important for maintaining healthy skin membranes. They also have lycopene, which, in pink varieties, is shown to protect the skin against UV rays.
Some fun facts about Guava. It’s found in the south pacific, Hawaii, Fiji and India. There’s also some farmed in Northern California.
They are great chopped on salads, or on their own. They ripen twice per year. They’re difficult to get where I live in Vancouver. I’d recommend trying guava leaf tea if you can find it.
Other snack friendly foods super high in these antioxidants include: citrus fruits, berries, chili pepper, parsley, watermelon, blackcurrants, papaya, mango and rose hip.
Properly made bone broth has 10 grams of collagen per cup. It is the number one building block for all of the connective tissues in our body, including skin, hair, teeth and nails.
As we get older, collagen production slows leading to visible aging of our skin: wrinkles, age spots, lines and crows feet. The stuff some that we don’t want.
Through a collagen rich diet you can improve your skin’s supple appearance by increasing collagen production.
Research shows an increase in skin elasticity from collagen after eight weeks (2).
Eating collagen rich foods helps repair damaged collagen fibers. It makes your skin appear more smooth by restoring hydration status and helping you grow more connective tissue.
How does this happen?
The worn out fibers are gradually replaced by restoring the ratio of type 1 to type 3. This is the type you’ll find in beef or chicken.
The highest quality brand you can order online is Bluebird Provisions. Try their Instant Chicken Bone Broth From Amazon Prime and see for yourself. All protein and hydrating electrolytes with no carbs, fillers or nasty ingredients.
Fatty Fish For Omega-3s
Omega-3s should be a staple for anyone wanting healthy skin. The anti-inflammatory properties of omega-3s are crucial to building and maintaining the fatty acids in our skin tissue.
The oils hydrate the deep layers in our skin, lowering the likelihood of skin dryness and breakdown (3).
Omega-3s also fights the effects of sun damage. Lastly, they’re used to help treat inflammatory conditions like acne and psoriasis (4).
Fatty fish like salmon, sardines, herring and anchovies are your best sources for omega-3, but you can also take a fish oil supplement.
Be careful about the quality of your fish oil supplement. Check your sourcing, store them in the fridge and regularly check that it has not gone rancid.
You can do this by breaking open the softgel and smelling / tasting the oil. It should not smell stale and rancid. If it does then throw it out.
Non-meat sources of alpha-linolenic acid omega-3s include chia seeds, pumpkin seeds and some nuts like walnuts and macadamia. But these do not provide the EPA and DHA you get from fish.
Sunflower seeds are full of Vitamin E.
It’s a naturally occurring potent antioxidant and one of the more highly researched compounds. It has the ability to help prevent and reverse the dangers of free radical exposure. How cool is that?
Its high antioxidant status is shown to protect us against solar UV radiation.
It also reduced sunburn reactions and chronic UVB inflamed skin cell function. UVB is what gives us sun burns.
Lastly, Vitamin E is important to the fatty acids that line our skin layers. Here it helps against collagen cross linking: a hallmark of aging in your skin.
One serving of sunflower seeds gives you 66% of your daily recommended intake. They’re great sprinkled on salads, cereal or in smoothies. Other foods high in Vitamin E include spinach.
Liver or Cod Liver Oil For Zinc
Chances are you don’t know a ton about Vitamin A. It is important to all aspects of dermis function.
Our bodies don’t make it, so we have to get it from our food.
Vitamin A plays an important role in our bodies skincare routine, cell and tissue growth. Especially in the deep layers of your skin: the dermis.
You need it to develop the underlying tissues that keep skin firm It does this by preventing the breakdown of collagen in your skin.
Foods rich in it give your skin a natural form of ultraviolet protection. It is also a possible anti-aging treatment (7). It is difficult to get in food sources. Thus the need to experiment with liver or cod liver oil.
One small (3 oz) serving of liver gives you between 450-750 percent of the DV along with proteins with rare amino acids. Egg yolks, cheese and fatty fish are also good sources, but the amount varies.
Dark Leafy Greens For Beta-Carotene
Popeye was onto something! Spinach helps keep your skin supple and radiant. Why you ask? Beta carotene, polyphenols, flavonoids and prebiotics.
Beta carotene is in the carotenoid family. These are natural colors found in some foods like carrots, purple yams, red cabbage, etc.
Foods high in beta carotene, like spinach also provide nutritional protection against harm from sunlight.
It’s time dependent, meaning you should eat lots of these foods in the spring and summer in order to get the protective effect against sunburn.
Our skin naturally has beta carotene in it. What’s cool is that you can increase the levels of skin beta carotene by eating lots of it.
We’re not positive but this may be responsible for the protective effects against sun damage (8). Much like your gut, your skin has its own microbiota (or bacterial network) that needs to be nourished.
Prebiotics found in leafy greens also benefit skin health by seeding your gut with beneficial bacteria. If you’re not into dark greens then squash, cantaloupe and sweet potatoes your best options.
You also want cruciferous greens like broccoli sprouts for sulforaphane. But you can get it from supplements as well.
Algae For Crucial Vitamins
There’s lots of potential cosmetic skin health benefits from eating algae rich foods rich in astaxanthin and carotenoids.
Astaxanthin is an algae found in salmon, krill, shrimp and crustaceans. The fish upcycle the microalgae and phytoplankton they eat into more readily available algae that we can use for nutritional benefits.
You can also get it in supplement form or in other algae powders like chlorella or spirulina.
The study into astaxanthin is promising. Research shows that it prevents skin sagging and wrinkles from UVA radiation and prevents DNA harm in skin (9).
It also improves age spots, wrinkles, elasticity, moisture and texture of our skin (10). Woah! The big issues with algae is the taste. Good luck with that one.
Avocados For Happy Fats
People claim that avocados are a great source of so called "healthy fats." But there are no omega-3s, which is the ultimate healthy fat.
So what is in them then? They have polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids. Some people think these better for your blood pressure and cholesterol than saturated, but that research is from the 1970s and has since been debunked.
Nevertheless, they have which have many benefits for skin tone and texture.
Dark chocolate is fantastic for your skin thanks to the antioxidants in cocoa powder, which hydrate and smooth your skin.
The antioxidants in cocoa powder also help with blood flow and circulation in your joints and skin. Making it appear more supple and vibrant.
The darker varieties have less added sugar compared to others. And sugar in inflammatory in itself. Some research shows it even helps with sun protection, but you must have one that is greater than 70% cocoa.
You'll notice berries missing from the list. Every article you read recommends strawberries, raspberries and blueberries, so I wanted to open your eyes to some other foods that are even better.
You may also see that nuts are omitted from the list. I think nuts are the most over rated so called 'health' food by the media.
Sure, there are beneficial minerals in some of them, but for the most part, they are so calorically dense (hazlenuts, almonds) that the addition of them leads to a caloric surplus. There are other more nutrient dense foods with less calories.
Other foods you see commonly cited are probiotics like sauerkraut, green tea (phenols), olive oil, tomatoes, bell peppers, apricots, turmeric, coffee, yogurt, kale, tuna and flaxseeds.
While these foods are obviously good for you and have skin building properties, they are not as potent as the ones listed above. That is the reason I left them out.
Nutrition and Good Skin Health
For better or for worse, our nutrition directly affect our skin health. For example, foods that are high in certain antioxidants, vitamins and minerals can help improve skin support by fighting against oxidative issues.
These superfoods also promote the production of collagen and elastin.
On the other hand, certain foods with anti-nutrients can lead to inflammation and harm to your skin cells, which can lead to skin conditions such as acne, eczema and breakouts.
Anti-nutrients take stripe away crucial nutrition from your skin. Food is medicine and should always be your first line of defence for breakouts. There are plenty of supplements and products marketed to help you. Most of them are not needed.
Lifestyle Changes That Benefit Your Skin Problems
We can't just focus on nutrition without looking at the rest of your lifestyle. There's important lifestyle habits that can benefit your skin like exercise, managing stress, not smoking and limiting sun exposure.
Quitting smoking is the single best thing you can do for your skin. Why? Smoking destroys collagen fibers in your skin cells which destroy its hydration and elasticity.
It decreases blood flow by narrowing blood vessels in skin layers, making it look pale and hollow. Finally, it robs your skin for nutrients and oxygen it needs to thrive.
Try to Reduce Stress
Everyone says this but doesn't tell you practical ways to do it. I know, trust me. I've read enough self help books to start a library in my day.
A couple of tips that work for me are the following:
- Get enough time in bed: Even if you are not sleeping, dedicated time to be horizontal and resting is incredibly restorative.
- Set limits: Don't try to do too many things at once and drop stuff that are no serving you. Too many hobbies or commitments leads to overwhelm. Especially when work or your home life is already busy.
- Scrap your 'to do' list: Pick 3 priorities each week which are the utmost priority. Everything else is noise.
- Protect your time: I don't take any exploratory or unsolicited calls or meetings anymore. It helps me focus on what matters when I'm working.
- Set aside time for play: Do activities you enjoy with your family or friends. Hobbies are great ways to be happy and relax.
Sun Exposure Means Skin Conditions, Cancer and Wrinkles
Sun in the silent skin killer. You always want to be covered up as best you can in Southern areas of North America. If you are concerned about vitamin D or live in the North, you can certainly get some exposure to the sun, but limit it so that you don't get burned.
Sunscreen is great, but clothing is better because they are full of chemicals and preservatives.
What foods make your skin glow?
Foods that make skin glow are bone broth, guava, fatty fish, avocados and chocolate. Eat more of these foods to hydrate and improve the appearance of your skin.
You can also drinks lots of water and get enough electrolytes like potassium, magnesium, phosphorus and chloride.
There are endless benefits to eating foods that are good for your skin. Not only will your skin look better, but you will also feel better overall. When it comes to food for clear skin, there are many delicious options to choose from. So get started today and enjoy the benefits of radiant skin!
If you want to get started healing your skin, start with one cup of bone broth per day. The top sodium free option made in the USA is made by Bluebird Provisions.
What are your favorite foods for skin? Leave a comment and let me know.
Images by congerdesign, Gregory Culmer