You can eat to be healthy and eat to be lean, but did you know you can also eat to be blemish-free?
Just as high-glycemic foods, dairy, and saturated fats can aggravate your skin and cause acne flare-ups, other foods are great for skin health and can help prevent breakouts. If you’re ready to start following a clear skin diet, get a good start with these top 12 foods.
Yogurt & Kefir
Fermented dairy products like nonfat yogurt and kefir deliver probiotics, or beneficial bacteria, to your digestive tract, and they’ve been shown to have numerous health benefits. One is helping to keep skin clear, and they do this by producing vitamin A, which helps regulate oil production and helps prevent clogged pores, B vitamins that help even skin tone, and vitamin K, which helps skin heal better. A healthy gut environment also inhibits inflammatory conditions in the body, including acne.
Go nuts with nuts like walnuts, almonds, and Brazil nuts, which are a good source of zinc and selenium. Deficiency in these two important nutrients can contribute to or worsen inflammatory skin conditions like acne. Zinc helps metabolize testosterone, which is the hormone responsible for causing acne, and it also helps regulate sebaceous glands, helps with collagen formation, and promotes healing. Nuts are also a good source of vitamin E, copper, manganese, potassium, calcium, and iron.
Vegetables like kale and broccoli are a great source of chromium, a trace mineral that helps reduce insulin resistance and keeps blood sugar stable so that you don’t break out. They’re also full of vitamins A, B, C, E, and K, and the minerals calcium, manganese, potassium, iron, folate, magnesium, and phosphorus, all of which contribute to a healthy body and healthy skin.
A good source of lean protein, egg yolks are full of zinc and selenium. Selenium works with enzymes in your body to help prevent inflammation and works to protect other antioxidants such as vitamin E.
While too many fatty foods might be bad for your skin, healthy fats are an exception and can help keep skin looking dewy. Avocado is a good source of vitamin E, which helps skin look healthy and radiant, and it also provides vitamin C, which helps to reduce inflammation. Studies have also shown that avocado oil may help stimulate collagen production, which improves skin tone and texture. Check out our healthy guacamole recipe here. Just eat with fresh veggies instead of chips!
Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and other dark berries are rich in antioxidants that protect skin. They are especially rich in the powerful antioxidant anthocyanin, which promotes blood flow to the skin. Dark berries are also lower in sugar than many other fruits, and help regulate insulin. In addition, they have a good amount of fiber for such small fruits – around 4 grams per ½ cup.
Foods like split peas, lentils, black beans, and garbanzo beans are loaded with fiber, providing 12-16 grams per cup. Fiber not only helps with digestion, but it also helps to detoxify your body by helping to remove the bad stuff in your gut, which benefits you all over, including your skin. And their combination of lean protein and fiber helps to prevent acne-inducing blood sugar spikes.
An herb used for hundreds of years as a treatment for digestive issues, skin problems like acne, and for detoxifying, the root of this plant can be eaten as a vegetable, or more commonly, brewed as tea. Studies have shown that it may have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, both good for fighting acne. Its root also provides calcium, potassium, magnesium.
Salmon, mackerel, sardines, and black cod are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to help reduce acne. Other studies have shown that EPA and DHA combat inflammatory cytokines, resulting in a reduction of acne, and the lean protein helps lesions heal faster.
These snackable seeds provide vitamin E, zinc, and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-6 fatty acids like linoleic acid (LA) can help stimulate skin growth and health, and while some omega-6s can promote inflammation, LA works with nutrients in the body such as magnesium, zinc, and vitamins C, B3, and B6 to become gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an anti-inflammatory compound.
Sweet potatoes get their beautiful orange color from beta-carotene, an important antioxidant that is converted to Vitamin A by the body. Vitamin A, or retinyl palmitate, is a vitamin for healthy skin that encourages proper skin cell formation, regulates sebum production, and helps prevent clogged pores. As a low glycemic index food, sweet potatoes also help regulate blood sugar levels – important for preventing acne – and they’re rich in fiber, too, with 7 grams per 1-cup serving.
This colorful vegetable is high in fiber, vitamin B6, vitamin C, which helps keeps skin firm and taut by aiding collagen production, and over 30 different antioxidant carotenoids like lycopene that help blood circulation to skin. Just a single red bell pepper can provide more than 100% of your daily vitamin C needs.
It’s an old myth that what you eat won’t affect your skin, so start eating better for better, clearer skin!
David H. Rahm, M.D. is the founder and medical director of The Wellness Center, a medical clinic located in Long Beach, CA. Dr. Rahm is also president and medical director of VitaMedica. Dr. Rahm is one of a select group of conventional medical doctors who have education and expertise in functional medicine and nutritional science. Over the past 20 years, Dr. Rahm has published articles in the plastic surgery literature and educated physicians about the importance of good peri-operative nutrition.