We all know the expression ‘you are what you eat’, but how many of us really take this into account in our daily lives?
I often find myself wondering why my skin looks dull, why I get breakouts and why my face always feels so dry. Then I run through everything I’ve eaten that day and it starts to make sense!
Forget the expensive face creams and chemical-loaded products, I’ve found the top ten foods to eat in order to improve your skin.
- Sardines! Bit of a weird note to start on, I know, but sardines are actually really good for your skin. They work as an anti-inflammatory to keep acne and pimples at bay. Sardines on whole grain toast makes a great afternoon snack – if you’re going for canned goods, make sure there’s not heaps of added sugar.
- What healthy-foods list would be complete without kale? This delicious green contains heaps of iron, which is great for your body in general, and is also packed with other vitamins such as A and C to keep your skin looking young, firm and supple. If you can’t stand the taste, try adding it to a fruit smoothie for an added boost in the mornings. Don’t panic, the 6 am run is optional.
- Rosemary is one of my all-time favorite herbs, so finding out that it’s good for skin is a massive bonus. It contains antioxidants which help to prevent your skin from the damage done by free radicals (more on this later). Add to soups or stews in the colder months, and use in salads and on BBQ meats/ veggies in the summer.
- Being vegan, I pretty much live off soy products. Tofu has become a staple in about 80% of my meals, so I was really happy to discover how good it is for you. It prevents the natural collagen in your skin from breaking down, which in turn stops you from getting wrinkles. It’s also a great source of protein, which your body needs to stay healthy.
- On the note of veganism, almond milk is a great option for anyone looking to give their skin a boost. Not only is it full of protein, it’s much better for your skin than dairy milk. Dairy causes inflammation to the skin, which can lead to acne and other skin conditions. By cutting out regular milk, you’ll be doing your skin a massive favour, as well as the environment…
- Kiwis are delicious and are also jam-packed with Vitamin C, which helps keep your skin firm and youthful-looking. Add to fruit salads, eat alone or, if you’re anything like me, mix with pineapple juice and tequila for a healthy(ish) summer drink.
- Another staple in my vegan diet is pumpkin – since living in Indonesia, I have become obsessed with pumpkin curry! Turns out pumpkin is also pretty good for you, as it helps your body produce heaps of Vitamin A, which in turns encourages skill cell growth and regeneration. No more dull skin!
- While I joked about tequila (was I joking, I’m not sure?), small amounts of red wine can actually give your skin a nice boost. It is believed to contain ingredients that can help to reverse some effects of sun damage. And it tastes good. That said, drink in moderation and always wear sunscreen if you’re out and about!
- Another shout-out to any vegans, and this time I’m celebrating the mighty chickpea. Many ‘healthy foods’ lists tend to be focused on eggs and red meat, which often leaves me feeling a little lost. Chickpeas are the main ingredient in hummus, so you have my permission to eat a whole tub to yourself later. They’re high in protein, and are also packed with the good kind of fat, which help to slow down digestion and prevent skin inflammation, aka acne!
- Tomatoes are full of selenium, which is an antioxidant that keeps your skin looking healthy while fighting against skin damage such as wrinkles. Super easy to integrate into your diet and well worth it for all the other lovely benefits they offer your body. They have a high water content, too, so make great snacks in the heat.
I often read posts like this and get to the end feeling totally overwhelmed by all the different vitamins, minerals and goodness that I’m being told to eat.
I also tend to panic and automatically assume I have to start taking supplements in order to get everything I need – not so! I thought I’d make everything a little easier for you by running through a few key things to look out for…
Vitamin C – a lovely little antioxidant that helps keep your skin free from wrinkles and blemishes. This vitamin also encourages the body to produce more of its natural collagen, which keeps your skin looking firm and nicely-plumped up with goodness. It gives your immune system a big boost, too, so is great if you’re feeling under the weather.
Find it in berries, kiwis and, of course, oranges – eat fresh where possible and add to fruit salads, breakfasts or make yourself a superfood smoothie to keep you going.
Vitamin E – this vitamin is essential for anyone who spends lots of time in the sun, as it absorbs harmful UV rays to prevent sun damage to your skin. It’s also great if you suffer from dry skin but don’t want to slather your body in lotion 24/7. It works to hydrate the skin by increasing the levels of sebum your body produces – sounds kinda gross, but this helps your body stay healthy.
Find it in nuts and seeds – easy to add to your diet by sprinkling on granola, over salads or adding to a trail mix for your afternoon slump. It’s also found in avocados – more good news!
Zinc – this mineral encourages your body to make sebum, which we now know keeps your skin supple and hydrated. Zinc is also great for our bodies in general, and helps prevent cancer as well as boosting our immune system to fight common colds and other illnesses.
Find it in whole grains, nuts, and seeds – again, super easy to incorporate into your current lifestyle.
Antioxidants – this is where the free radicals come back in to Free radicals are naturally in our bodies already, and exist as singular cells. They essentially live in a cycle of trying to pair up with other free radicals, often by ‘stealing’ from existing couples. Sound like someone you know? This continues – one cell steals another cell, that cell is then taken from them, so they steal another cell and so on. All this interchanging of cells can cause an imbalance within the body that can lead to wrinkles, skin damage and, in some cases, cancer. Antioxidants prevent this from happening – a kind of ‘love doctor’ if you will.
Find them in cranberries, red beans and blueberries – have fun mixing them into your meal plans or eat dried fruit as a snack, providing there’s not heaps of added sugar.
Omegas 3 and 6 – also referred to as ‘fatty acids’, these little beauties act as antioxidants, as well as improving general functioning within the body. Omega 3 is an anti-inflammatory that helps prevent acne, while Omega 6 prevents skin from becoming dry and wrinkly.
Find them in fish oils (good for joint issues!), or flaxseed oil if you’re veggie/ vegan. Omega 3 is also found in soy milk and tofu – good news for any plant-based friends out there.
So, there we have it – ten foods to incorporate into your diet to help improve your skin. I’ve tried to include options for an array of dietary needs, so fingers crossed you can find ways to add these items to your diet. Hopefully, you now understand more of what our bodies actually get from different foods, and why this is so important when it comes to skin care and general health.
Remember to stay hydrated, get plenty of sleep and try and be as active as possible, as well as finding the right natural skin care routine for you. All of these factors, combined with a healthy diet, will really make a difference to your skin. Stick at it for a month or so and you’ll start to see some results.
Don’t beat yourself up if you indulge in chocolate (or tequila!) every so often – there’s no point having glowing skin if you’re miserable from depriving yourself of a few treats every now and then.
After all – happiness is health; health is happiness…