Forget the days of thinking that glowing, healthy skin is only possible with the aid of expensive skincare products. With more information on the skin-food connection than ever before, your ticket to radiant, glowing skin is now served up on a silver platter that’s filled with fresh, leafy greens, colorful veggies and only the best omega-3s.
In other words, the health of our skin depends strongly on our diet, explains Dr. Yoram Harth, Board Certified Dermatologist, Medical Director of MDacne, to Lively.
“The wrong food will result in poorly-functioning collagen fibers, elastic fibers and stratum corneum. This results in dull-looking skin. Providing your skin with the right diet can make our skin healthier and glowing.”
Ready to eat your way to your healthy skin? Start with these 5 foods groups.
If you want to save money and skip this month’s facial, try adding more fish into your diet. And sorry, that plate of fish and chips doesn’t count. “The best source for high-quality protein is cold water fish,” says Dr. Harth.
“Fish, such as salmon, mackerel and herring, are excellent foods for healthy skin,” explains Dr. Harth. “In addition to proteins that are the building blocks of our skin, they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E – all of which have been proven to be powerful antioxidants that help to reduce redness associated with blemish-prone skin.”
Certain types of cold-water fish are also a good source of zinc, which is a mineral that is beneficial not only for the skin but also for the hair as well. “It’s vital in the production of new cells in the skin and hair follicles,” says Dr. Harth.
Kelli Klus, a homeopath, skincare entrepreneur, and alternative medicine/energy consultant, tells Lively that fish isn’t the only fatty acid that results in glowing skin. “The omega 3, 6, 7 and 9 in avocados and plant oils also contains an abundant source of healthy fats, which produce and maintain the skin’s natural oil barrier.” This leads to skin that is well hydrated, plumper and younger-looking.
Turns out Popeye was onto something with his infamous spinach obsession. “Spinach is rich in antioxidants,” explains Dr. Harth.
Dr. Harth advises that spinach be eaten raw. “Like most leafy greens, spinach contains oxalic acid, an acid that interferes with the body’s calcium and iron absorption,” he explains. “Cooking the spinach can neutralize the unwanted effects of oxalic acid and allow better absorption of calcium and iron in our gastrointestinal tract.”
Kale is another leafy green that packs a whole lot of skincare benefits. It has even been touted as one of the hottest veggies out there (making all other veggies green with envy, no doubt), since it seems to be on the ingredient list of almost every famous supermodel’s go-to smoothie recipe.
But rest assured that kale, with its high dose of minerals and vitamin A and vitamin C, is the real deal.
Take a walk on the brighter side of the rainbow by adding orange, red and yellow veggies into your diet. This includes sweet potatoes, carrots, and red or yellow bell peppers since they all contain excellent sources of beta-carotene. “This acts as a natural sunblock …,” explains Dr. Harth.
Consider these veggies your skin vitamins as they also all contain vitamin A, C, and E. When considering the skin, each of these vitamins play a vital role in skin cell turnover and regeneration (a.k.a. unlocking the key to skin renewal).
“Vitamin C helps skin produce and maintain collagen vital for skin health as it is referred to as the scaffolding of skin and helps to maintain skin’s elasticity,” says Klus. [Editor note: Vital Proteins offers products that contain vitamin C, like our Glow Collagen Shot and Collagen Beauty Glow™.]
Like fish, certain nuts and seeds are also good sources of essential fats, zinc, vitamin E, vitamin C, selenium and protein. “These are all essential components for healthy skin,” Dr. Harth tells Lively.
Don’t just pick and choose whatever nuts or seeds you fancy most, though. Instead, reach for walnuts and sunflower seeds.
“Walnuts contain the essential fatty acids that your skin cannot make itself and its omega-3’s can reduce skin redness,” says Dr. Harth. As for sunflower seeds, Dr. Harth explains that they are rich in vitamin E, zinc and protein. Basically, this stuff does wonders.
Green tea is an antioxidant powerhouse, much like its finely ground counterpart: Matcha. What makes matcha so great in this arena is the level of antioxidants it provides. One study found that matcha has 137 times the number of antioxidants of regular green tea. Why is that? Matcha is actually fully ground tea leaves that you then add to water or milk, whereas traditional green tea is just steeped. Matcha allows you to get the benefits of the entire tea leaf!
Vital Proteins Matcha Collagen – which boasts those same benefits – also contains L-theanine, an amino acid that promotes an “alert calm” in users. So, you’re getting a healthier energy boost thanks to the matcha while also getting the opportunity to experience stronger hair, skin, nails and joints due to the hydrolyzed collagen.**
Foods to replenish dry skin include healthy fats such as salmon, avocado, tomatoes and nuts, says Klus. Be sure to also drink lots of water for extra hydration. We recommend Vital Proteins Collagen Water™, which includes 10g of collagen per serving and zero added sweeteners.
Avoid dairy and processed foods. Instead, eat avocados, spinach, red and orange bell peppers, and sweet potato.
“Make sure you are getting enough vitamin D and water to flush out excess toxins that can accumulate with troubled skin,” adds Klus.
Try a turmeric mask or consume foods like blueberries, tomatoes, and spinach for perky skin.
RELATED: Is Your Skin Dry or Dehydrated?
Lastly, when grocery shopping, stick to the perimeter of the store instead of wandering into the middle aisles; this is where most of the foods you should be avoiding are located. This includes foods made of refined white flour such as white bread, bagels, and muffins, cakes, and pasta, as well as potatoes, desserts, and dairy products.
By eating the best foods for good skin, you can also expect a healthier body and mind. Bon appétit!