If it's true that you are what you eat, who wouldn't want to be more beautiful simply by eating beauty-boosting foods? As it turns out, the foods that are good for you on the inside are also good for you on the outside. Conversely, the condition of your skin, hair, and nails offers clues to the health of your entire body.
"Eating the right foods can help your skin fight acne, reduce redness and inflammation, resolve moisture problems, and even reduce wrinkles," says Allison Tannis, MS, RHN, nutritional scientist and the author of
Feed Your Skin, Starve Your Wrinkles: Eat Your Way to Firmer, More Beautiful Skin with 100 Foods that Turn Back the Clock.
"The body becomes less able to digest and absorb nutrients as you age, and the result is that fewer skin-healthy nutrients from the foods you eat actually reach your skin. This means that the foods you eat need to have a greater concentration of skin-beautifying nutrients," says Tannis.
"Wellness, health, and beauty are intentions," according to Debra Luftman, MD, a dermatologist and coauthor of The Beauty Prescription: The Complete Formula for Looking and Feeling Beautiful. "What's good for your heart and weight is good for your skin and brain. Avoid the bad stuff: refined and processed foods, saturated fats, grease, high-sugar foods, and high-sodium foods. Good nutrition should consist of unprocessed food: fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, healthy fats, and protein."
Beauty all-star foods
- Butternut squash
- Canola oil
- Dark chocolate
- Green tea
- Red grapes
- Red bell peppers
- Sunflower seeds
- Sweet potatoes
Best Foods for Skin
Luftman suggests eating avocados, wild salmon, herring, mackerel, eggs, walnuts, canola oil, and soybeans for their omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which moisturize your body from the inside out, helping to keep your skin supple and glowing.
She also encourages a diet that includes berries, red grapes, and green tea, whose phytonutrients minimize the effects of free radical damage and prevent wrinkles. Oranges, red peppers, and broccoli have plenty of vitamin C, which is vital for the production and formation of collagen, skin's structure.
Dark orange, red, or green fruits and vegetables, such as butternut squash, carrots, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes, are rich in beta-carotene, an antioxidant that converts to vitamin A in your body and switches on DNA that's in charge of producing new skin cells and shedding old ones. A regular influx of new cells keeps the surface of your skin smooth, fresh-looking, and resistant to irritants. This helps prevent acne breakouts, wrinkles, and precancers.
Sunflower seeds and almonds help provide sun protection. These seeds and nuts are loaded with vitamin E, an antioxidant that protects skin from the free radicals caused by UV rays. Organic free-range poultry, grass-fed meats, and oysters have zinc and iron, minerals important for the skin's functions. Zinc contributes to cell production, plus natural cell sloughing, which keeps dullness at bay. Red blood cells need iron to carry oxygen to skin, giving it a glow.
Dark chocolate-70 percent or more cocoa-may actually be good for your skin. Preliminary studies found that cocoa's flavonols (a potent type of antioxidant) can help increase blood flow, supply skin with oxygen, improve skin hydration, and reduce sun sensitivity. Last, Luftman says to drink plenty of water to hydrate and plump the skin.
Tannis's favorite foods for beautiful skin include asparagus, which also hydrates and plumps skin. Asparagus contains silica, which can hold up to 10 times its own weight in water. She picks kiwi as the best source of vitamin C, which builds collagen, the main infrastructure of your skin. She also encourages adding psyllium seeds to your diet.
"Psyllium naturally encourages sloughing off of the dead skin cells on the outside layer," Tannis adds. "It's like a natural peel from the inside out."
Two Easy Recipes for Eye-Area Revival
1. Freeze two wet green tea bags for an hour; then place on your eyes for 10 minutes.
The antioxidants in green tea will help reduce wrinkles and dark circles, while the cold will shrink puffiness.
- Debra Luftman, MD, dermatologist
and coauthor of The Beauty Prescription: The Complete Formula for Looking and Feeling Beautiful
2. Placing cucumber slices over your eyes has long been heralded as a method to fight puffiness, but eating them can also help you look your best. Cucumber is mostly water, so eating it hydrates your skin, flushes out toxins, and relieves the inflammation that can cause your skin to appear puffy.
- Allison Tannis, MS, RHN, nutritional scientist and author of Feed Your Skin, Starve Your Wrinkles: Eat Your Way to Firmer, More Beautiful Skin with 100 Foods that Turn Back the Clock