After a winter full of long wool coats and doubled-up scarves, you are ready to let your skin breathe. Unfortunately, the cold weather brought more than just an uncomfortable amount of clothing: it also dried up the skin that clothing protects. Before you bare your skin, you probably want it to get back some of its warm weather glow. So you hustle to the beauty aisle and start loading up your grocery cart with creams and soaps that promise to rejuvenate and hydrate your parched skin. We’re here to tell you that you may want to head to the produce aisle instead.
“Skin is the largest organ of our body, and, since your body is your temple, you must treat it right by eating nutritionally — fortifying your skin with all of the vitamins and nutrients it needs to stay healthy and glowing,” says Dr. David E. Bank, a board-certified dermatologist, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, author of Beautiful Skin: Every Woman's Guide to Looking Her Best at Any Age, and founder and director of the Center For Dermatology, Cosmetic & Laser Surgery in Mt. Kisco, New York.
But it isn’t just a matter of eating healthy and drinking water, though both certainly help. Rather, maintaining healthy skin through proper nutrition is about eating and even applying the proper foods that have specific benefits to really combat dry and irritated skin.
“Beautiful skin begins with good nutrition and stays grounded in good nutrition,” says Dr. Roshini Raj, a NYC gastroenterologist and the founder of TULA skincare. “There is no miracle in a bottle that will give you great skin if you are not following a well-balanced diet that consists of colorful fruits and vegetables, fiber, lean meats, fish, and healthy whole grains. In fact, some of the most common skin issues, like breakouts and blemishes, can be attributed to what’s happening in your intestines. What you eat can disrupt your healthy gut balance, and this in turn can cause inflammation, which affects your overall digestion and the appearance of your skin.”
To get you glowing, we asked skincare professionals to tell us which foods we should eat and apply to get better, healthier skin. You won’t believe how some of these foods affect your skin!
“Almond milk is an excellent source of vitamin E, a known antioxidant. Antioxidants protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals alter cell genetic code, resulting in mutated proteins. When mutation happens, cancer may develop. Free radicals often cause irreversible damage to the skin; they contribute to collagen and elastin depletion. Collagen and elastin are important substances that give the skin its elasticity and firmness. The collagen and elastin supplies of the skin are depleted after prolonged exposure to free radicals. As you get older, your body is unable to replenish the depleted supply; this is the primary cause of wrinkles, fine lines and other skin blemishes. Vitamin E, present in almond milk, protects the skin from the harmful effects of free radicals; this makes the skin healthy and younger-looking. Vitamin B2, also known as riboflavin, is found in abundance in almond milk. It helps the tissues of the skin, hair and nails to use oxygen. Riboflavin also assists in synthesizing tryptophan — an amino acid — and producing niacin in the process. Niacin, also referred to as vitamin B3, aids in circulation. The skin benefits greatly from proper circulation. Niacin also helps in hydrating the skin by trapping moisture in the cells.”
— Dr. David E. Bank
“Like olive oil, avocados contain monounsaturated fats, which are good fats. They’re high in polyphenols and vitamin E, both of which have antioxidant effects. Antioxidants help combat oxidative damage that speeds up the aging or our skin, and good fats help nourish our skin cells, so both are essential for optimal skin health. Similar to avocados, olives have beneficial oils for our skin health (they’re especially great for dry skin). You can eat olives and consume olive oil. Just be sure not to heat olive oil, because it oxidizes quickly.”
— Dr. Trevor Cates, licensed naturopathic physician