In this Ask the Expert article, we’ll take a closer look at how diet affects our skin. At this point, most of us have attributed an outbreak to a chocolate candy or too much sugary drink, but it turns out that the relationship between skin and food is even more complex. We caught up with Elizabeth Geddes-Bruce, MD, MS to talk about the best foods for good skin and how different foods can make it look greasy, dry, inflamed, hydrated, and even younger.
“Dermatologists have long known that nutritional deficits often only manifest themselves through changes in the quality of the skin. However, we are often unable to talk to our patients about the many benefits that nutrition can have for their skin, ”explains Dr. Geddes-Bruce.
“I firmly believe that the two are connected – what you eat can affect the appearance of your skin. I hear it from my patients all the time. And studies prove what they say: certain nutrients can protect against photodamage and premature aging, while others can accelerate damage and illness. “
What Exactly Are the Worst Foods for Your Skin? There’s a good chance, deep down, you already know. Read Dr. Geddes-Bruce on how some of our favorite food groups can affect our skin.
1 of 9Image about half-baked harvest
I don’t see anything wrong with occasionally enjoying hamburgers or hot dogs, but your skin will thank you if your daily diet focuses on lean sources of protein. In addition to being high in niacin (a B vitamin that may protect against skin cancer), chicken and turkey are also lower in saturated fat, which means they’re less flammable than red meat.
2 of 9
While gluten is a bad influence in popular culture these days, it is unlikely to be terrible for your skin on its own. What we do know is that gluten is most commonly found in carbohydrates, and a high-carbohydrate diet has been linked to an increased chance of wrinkles. This leads us to the next point.
3 of 9
If there was one food that you could cut down to improve your skin, I would vote for sugar. Sugar speeds up the aging process by making the skin less elastic, which leads to premature wrinkles and sagging. It does this through a process called glycation, in which the sugar binds to the collagen and elastic proteins in your skin, making them irreversibly rigid.
4 of 9
If you’re struggling with acne, consider trying limiting your milk intake. Dairy products, especially skimmed milk products, have been linked to acne in several population studies. We’re not sure why – it may be because of the hormones or the high glycemic load that causes blood sugar and then insulin to spike, leading to increased oil production. But make sure you are maintaining your calcium intake, which is found in foods like spinach, kale, white beans, and soy.
5 of 9
If you love fruit, you are in luck because it is one of the best foods for good skin. It’s a no-brainer that fresh fruits are good for your skin. I try to have a little fruit with every meal. Fruits like oranges, strawberries, mangoes and papayas contain a lot of vitamin C. Vitamin C is important for the formation of dense collagen fibers. It also acts as an antioxidant, protecting your skin from damage from UV radiation and pollution. And while many skin care products contain vitamin C, not all are formulated to keep the vitamin C stable and penetrate into target areas.
6 of 9
The stronger the color, the better they are for your skin! Dark green leafy vegetables, as well as red, orange, and yellow vegetables contain B-carotenes (a form of vitamin A), lycopene, and lutein – all nutrients that help protect the skin from sun damage. And while most vegetables are best in their raw form, cooking tomatoes gives you more lycopene – so enjoy this tomato sauce.
7 of 9
Depending on the type of fish (usually “fish fish”), one serving can be a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are anti-inflammatory in the body. A diet high in omega-3 fatty acids can improve dry and flaky skin and reduce sensitivity to the sun.
8 of 9
There has been a lot of hype about the benefits of red wine because it contains a polyphenol called resveratrol. Resveratrol is an antioxidant that protects against skin damage. However, the benefits can be negated by damage to the skin from alcohol such as dehydration and dilation of blood vessels, which can lead to conditions such as rosacea. Overall, I would recommend that you enjoy a glass of red wine occasionally if you like it, but don’t drink it for your skin. It is best to stick with green tea, which is a good alternative that is high in polyphenols.
9 of 9Nuts and seeds.
Both nuts and seeds can be good sources of vitamin E, which is supplied to the skin in your sebum and helps protect cell membranes and promote healing. Nuts and seeds can also contain the trace elements selenium, zinc and copper, which protect against cell damage and promote healthy skin structure.
This post was originally published on June 3, 2020 and has been updated since then.