We all agree that consuming a healthy and balanced diet is good for our health. But does it affect our skin, and can nutrient-rich foods make you look better? There is no denying the fact that a healthy diet plays a fundamental part in helping to make you feel and look good. While it’s important to feed and pamper your skin with the right skincare ingredients, your body needs proper nutrition to stay in its optimal condition. Nourishing your cells with the right nutrients from deep within remains fundamental to feeling good and looking your best in the long run.
A nutritious diet can aid in keeping the skin healthy and glowing while preventing various skin issues that can have adverse effects on the way your skin feels and appears. Let’s dig into how diet can affect your skin and which foods you should add to your daily diet to achieve youthful, radiant, and smooth skin.
How and Why Does Diet Affect the Skin?
Just like any other organ of your body, the skin also needs a constant supply of nutrients to meet all its nutritional requirements. Essential nutrients work as a source of energy that helps to maintain the structure and function of the building blocks of the skin.
The skin comes in contact with countless damaging elements and faces serious challenges like acne, wrinkles, fine lines, dryness, inflammation, sun damage, and discoloration. A proper diet packed with essential nutritional compounds is vital for the skin to combat these challenges and keep the skin healthy. Vitamins, lipids, minerals, proteins, and antioxidants are major nutrients we should get from our daily diet, and they help to promote healthy skin. When your diet lacks these compounds and contains cell-damaging processed and unhealthy foods, it can affect the skin adversely.
What Are the Effects of a Poor Diet?
An unhealthy diet encompasses high amounts of trans and saturated fats, sugar, and carbohydrates, and low amounts of fiber. It lacks essential nutrients that are needed to repair, renew, and protect the skin, which can lead to skin problems. Here are a few skin problems that can arise due to an inadequate diet:
- Acne - We all know that acne is caused or worsened by different internal and external factors, including hormonal imbalance, environmental aggressors, stress, unhealthy lifestyle, and skincare or makeup products. Various food items, especially sugar and fats, can also aggravate your skin and lead to acne breakouts.
- Sun Damage - Prolonged and unprotected exposure of the skin to damaging UV rays is one of the major causes of many skin problems. A proper diet with high amounts of antioxidants can protect the skin against sun damage and keep the skin plump and vibrant in the long run.
- Fine Lines and Wrinkles - One of the major skin woes due to an inappropriate diet is fine lines and wrinkles. Foods with rich amounts of essential vitamins, minerals, proteins, and fatty acids can help maintain the skin’s youthfulness by sustaining an optimized production of collagen and elastin.
- Dullness and Dryness - When you don’t deliver your skin with the fuel it needs to sustain moisture and radiance, the result is dryness, dehydration, and dullness. Foods with fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamins (B, C, and E) can help to prevent and reduce these problems.
- Discoloration - Other than sun exposure and certain internal or external elements, a lack of vitamin D, calcium, vitamin C, iron, zinc, flavonoids, carotenoids, and vitamin E can also cause hyperpigmentation. So, load your diet with foods that contain these micronutrients if your skin concerns mainly revolve around uneven and dull skin tone.
What Should You Eat for Healthy Skin?
Here are some of the most effective and skin-savvy nutrients to help you decide which foods you should add to your diet to treat and prevent skin issues:
Vitamin C - Oxidative damage is one of the leading factors that cause common skin problems, particularly fine lines and wrinkles, because it damages elastin and collagen fibers in the skin, affecting the skin’s structure. Since these fibers are responsible for keeping the skin firm and supple, their breakdown leads to the formation of fine lines and wrinkles. Also, adverse effects of external factors can cause hyperpigmentation, dullness, and inflammation. Vitamin C is one of the most incredible components found in various foods that can help to fight these skin problems. Fruits (like grapefruit, oranges, lemons, kiwi, and strawberries) and vegetables (including bell peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and kale) are great sources of vitamin C.
Vitamin E - Vitamin E is probably the most popular and commonly recommended antioxidant and moisturizing ingredient for the skin. It helps shield the skin against environmental stressors and prevents cell damage. It also moisturizes the skin and retains moisture levels by fortifying the skin’s protective barrier. Moreover, vitamin E also soothes irritated and dry skin. Consuming foods with vitamin E can prevent dryness, inflammation, fine lines and wrinkles, and uneven skin tone. Some sources of vitamin E include olives, pumpkin, spinach, red bell pepper, nuts, seeds, avocado, mangoes, and vegetable oils.
Vitamin A - This compound is known as a vital component of the tissue that helps to repair and renew the skin. Lower levels of vitamin A in the skin due to insufficient nutrition can cause the skin to become rough, saggy, dry, and discolored. Vitamin A can be obtained by adding certain fruits, vegetables, poultry, and dairy products to your diet. Some of the options include eggs, milk, cheese, fatty fish, yogurt, liver, and carrots. Beta-carotene is a compound that gets metabolized into vitamin A in the body and can be found in papaya, carrots, mango, apricot, sweet potatoes, and spinach.
Vitamin K - Vitamin K is mostly known for its ability to help with blood clotting, stopping hemorrhaging, and healing wounds.¹ It can also be useful in treating damaged skin and dark circles around the eyes. It can be obtained by adding green leafy vegetables (like spinach and broccoli), cereal grains, dairy products, and vegetable oils. Your body needs around 1 mg of vitamin K for each kg of your body weight, which can be obtained by eating a balanced diet that encompasses fresh fruits, vegetables, and grains.
Vitamin B Complex - This group of water-soluble vitamins holds plenty of benefits for the skin, ranging from calming irritation and hydration to treating fine lines and wrinkles. Collagen-boosting properties of niacinamide (vitamin B-3 or niacin), pantothenic acid (vitamin B-5), and folic acid make these compounds great for anti-aging effects on the skin. Niacinamide is also known for lightening dark spots on the skin. Furthermore, the vitamin B complex works effectively to retain moisture in the skin as well as reduce inflammation and acne breakouts. Some of the foods with these vitamins are green leafy vegetables, cereals, wheat, rice, bananas, yeast, eggs, avocados, legumes, meat, milk, mushrooms, seeds, and fish.
Fatty Acids - Fatty acids are essential components of the skin, which uphold the structure of the skin and facilitate various functions of the skin. Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids are specifically famous for their skin benefits.² These fatty acids are responsible for sustaining the integrity and functions of the cell membranes needed for the production of the lipid layer of the epidermis. A damaged or weak lipid barrier can make the skin prone to inflammation, dehydration, fine lines and wrinkles, acne breakouts, and hyperpigmentation. You can add foods like poultry, wheat, fatty fish, dark green vegetables, and liver to your daily diet to reap the benefits of these fatty acids.
Minerals - Foods packed with natural mineral compounds are also vital for improving the appearance and quality of the skin. Selenium possesses antioxidant power, which helps to combat oxidative damage. Selenium, zinc, and copper can protect the skin from sun damage and encourage the synthesis of elastin and collagen. This function can prevent the thinning and sagging of the skin, which leads to the emergence of fine lines and wrinkles. These minerals are also effective in treating acne and preventing further acne breakouts. Some mineral-filled foods are nuts, red meat, eggs, whole wheat, oysters, garlic, poultry, pumpkin seeds, pecans, legumes, and mushrooms.³
A healthy diet filled with essential micronutrients is crucial not only for a healthy body but also for beautiful-looking skin. Adequate nutrition that encompasses plenty of vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, amino acids, and proteins is known to achieve and maintain the health, appearance, and functions of the skin. Moreover, it can prevent various skin issues, such as acne breakouts, fine lines and wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, and inflammation. Certain foods with high levels of antioxidants can fight harmful agents that can cause cell damage. Similarly, numerous other compounds found in foods can stimulate the skin’s regeneration process, helping to restore the damaged skin. Hence, make sure to eat and drink foods that offer skin benefits and help to reduce or treat skin problems. Consuming fresh fruits, legumes, vegetables, poultry, nuts, and whole grains is a great place to start.
- Weiner, Zoe. (2020). ‘The One Ingredient Derms Say Every Woman Over 50 Should Use Under Her Eyes’, Well+Good, Accessed September 15, 2022. Available at: https://www.wellandgood.com/vitamin-k-for-skin/
- Robertson, Ruairi. (2020). ‘Omega-3-6-9 Fatty Acids: A Complete Overview’, Healthline, Accessed September 15, 2022. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/omega-3-6-9-overview
- Handoo, Swathi. (2022). ‘Benefits Of Pumpkin Seeds, Nutrition, And How To Use Them’, StyleCraze, Accessed September 15, 2022. Available at: https://www.stylecraze.com/articles/benefits-of-pumpkin-seeds-for-skin-hair-and-health/