There are a couple of key ways to heal your skin with food. Some of them involve topical applications of nourishing foods. For instance, you can try a food-based remedy for ailments like dry skin. Sunburns can even benefit from some food-based solutions.
However, eating certain foods can also really help. The saying, “You are what you eat,” isn’t always true, but in the case of your skin, it has some validity. Your skin, just like every other organ in your body, needs certain nutrients to function at its best. Only unlike your other organs, flaws in your skin health can be visible, causing dryness, wrinkles, and even acne.
There are some nutrients that benefit your skin specifically. Vitamin A, also known as beta-carotene, helps your skin to protect itself against damage from UV rays and other outside threats. Eating healthy fats such as omega-3s can help with the absorption of other nutrients you need, while simultaneously keeping your cortisol levels lower and reducing damaging inflammation as a result. Vitamin E has protective qualities, as well, and Vitamin C is intimately involved with your body’s production of collagen. Collagen is what keeps your skin strong and prevents it from wrinkling.
To get the most of these nutrients from your diet, try increasing your intake of these 21 healthy foods.
Avocados totally deserve all the hype they get. They provide all kinds of health benefits, boosting your brain power and your immune system. They have vitamins A, D, and E, all of which support healthy skin, along with healthy fats to aid in the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients. If you’re bored of basic avocado toast, try one of these 20 unexpected ways to cook with an avocado.
Broccoli is easy to cook and relatively inexpensive — especially if you buy it frozen. You’re getting a lot of bang for your buck when you buy broccoli. It has all kinds of helpful nutrients, including vitamins A and C to support your production of collagen that your skin needs.
But chocolate makes you break out! Yeah, that’s how the legend goes. However, it’s really the refined sugars in chocolate that are linked to skin inflammation — not the rich cocoa itself. Dark chocolate has less sugar and more of the good stuff, which is actually linked to reducing inflammation due to its powerful antioxidants. There are actually over 20 legitimate health reasons you should be eating dark chocolate every single day!
Eggs are far from overrated — they’re practically nutrition powerhouses, packing enough protein and vital nutrients to support many aspects of your health. Healthy skin is one of the many benefits eggs have to offer, since they contain proteins your body needs to produce collagen. Try one of these unexpected egg recipes to keep things interesting if you’re tired of eating them hard-boiled.
Green tea contains caffeine, so it’s probably not the most calming beverage to sip before bed. However, it’s great for your skin and overall health when you drink it in the daytime. Whether it’s a matcha latte or a hot cup of tea, green tea contains antioxidants that help stave off skin-damaging inflammation.
Looking to eat more vitamin C? Oranges aren’t actually the best bet for getting the most you can of this nutrient. Kiwis contain over 100 percent of your recommended daily value in just one of the tiny fruits. Vitamin C aids with the production of collagen, keeping your skin from wrinkling and forming fine lines.
If you hate eating boring old oatmeal, try jazzing it up with some sweet and healthy toppings. It’s well worth the effort — compounds found in oatmeal are known to ease skin irritation when applied topically, and they may help if it’s eaten, as well. Fiber, vitamin E, and folic acid from oats can all help to support healthy skin. Plus, the whole grains are kinder to your skin than other carbohydrates such as refined sugar.
Olive oil is filled with monounsaturated fats, crucial for the health of your skin, brain, and pretty much everything else. The easy-to-cook-with oil also contains antioxidants to brighten your skin and reduce inflammation.
Foods like carrots and sweet potatoes are known for their carotenoids, but did you know peppers had the same benefits? Bell peppers are nutrient-rich and filled with fiber; plus, the carotenoids will decrease your sensitivity to the sun, protecting your skin from UV damage. This protective effect can also work to stave off wrinkles.
According to Dr. Trevor Cates, “Pomegranates are full of antioxidants and have been shown to boost collagen. Pomegranate juice has been shown to help increase glutathione, which decreases with age, and is important for detoxification and the prevention of DNA damage.” This superfood is only in season from October through February, so stock up while you can.
Sorry, Starbucks lovers — a pumpkin spice latte is not going to cut it. These benefits are in reference to whole servings of the squash-like vegetable. A half-cup of cooked pumpkin contains more than your recommended daily value of vitamin A. Try roasting it, baking with it, or making a savory pumpkin risotto.
Bad news: Drinking more than one or two glasses of wine is going to be terrible for your skin, since alcohol dehydrates you so severely. However, sipping a glass at the end of the day has a lot of health benefits. Your skin benefits from the antioxidants in wine, protecting against skin cancer and boosting the health of your skin cells overall.
Don’t be that guy and microwave fish at work — but a filet of salmon is a goldmine of some of the most important nutrients for your skin. It’s rich in antioxidants, which can help calm inflammation that contributes to acne. Salmon is also loaded with omega-3 fatty acids that aid with nutrient absorption and reinforce healthy skin cells. One of these simple recipes could help to add more salmon to your diet.
This vegetable — tomatoes are a vegetable, it’s the law — contains an impressive amount of lycopene, a potent antioxidant that can help guard your skin against sun damage. Add some tomatoes into your salads during the summer to get a layer of natural sunscreen. Don’t stop wearing sunscreen, though — it’s essential for staying safe under the sun.
These heart-healthy nuts can also increase the shininess of your hair. Toss a few in your salads or bake them into breakfast muffins — no matter how you eat them, you’ll get all the benefits of the healthy fats your body uses to produce collagen, reducing the likelihood of wrinkles and improving skin elasticity.
Staying hydrated is your most powerful line of defense against all kinds of skin problems, ranging from wrinkles to pimples. Make sure you aren’t letting yourself get dehydrated; your skin will dry out as a result.
Watermelon, one of summer’s most coveted fruits, is rich with vitamin C, vitamin A, and water, all of which contribute to overall skin health. It’s also good for your skin topically; this watermelon-filled smoothie doubles as a face mask. If you have trouble getting enough water, eating watermelon could help — as could increasing your intake of these hydrating beverages.
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