Did you know foods can help keep your skin looking younger? A diet high in sugar and other unhealthy ingredients can accelerate the aging process and cause skin problems including acne and rashes. But a diet high in vitamins, antioxidants, and other nutrients can keep your skin looking smooth, supple, and youthful today and for years to come.
Here’s a look at foods to avoid, and foods to consume more of if your goal is to maintain a fresh, young-looking appearance.
Foods that damage your skin
- Dairy products can trigger inflammation, and lead to acne and skin rashes. Cow’s milk in particular is commonly loaded with growth hormones that stay biologically active long after processing, which drive inflammation and lead to increased oil production. Reduce your dairy intake, and opt for almond or coconut milk instead of cow’s milk.
- Caffeine can dehydrate your body and skin, and affect collagen and elasticity production. This makes your skin more prone to developing fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging. Limit your caffeine intake by drinking fewer energy and coffee drinks, and consider switching to beverages with lower amounts of caffeine, such as white and green teas.
- Sugar binds to elastin and collagen in your skin — weakening these fibers to produce wrinkles and sagging. This process also triggers inflammation, which contributes to acne, redness, and uneven skin tone. Reduce or eliminate as much sugar from your diet as possible, and avoid fast foods, processed foods, and other sources of “hidden” sugar.
- Salt in high amounts causes water retention and can make your skin look puffy, swollen, and tired. Stop adding salt to foods already high in sodium, and swap table salt for Himalayan crystal salt, which contains nutrients that lend to improved health and skin. Watch out for packaged and canned foods, which are often high in sodium. Choose low-sodium versions when possible.
Foods that benefit your skin
- Vitamin A encourages healthy skin cell production, and is high in antioxidants that ward off free radicals. Free radicals can trigger inflammation and lead to acne, red spots, and other blemishes. Sweet potatoes and carrots are high in vitamin A, as well as dark leafy greens including kale, Bok choy, and broccoli.
- Antioxidants combat free radicals, which are toxins that trigger inflammation and lead to breakouts, wrinkles, and sagging skin. Antioxidants are in most fruits, vegetables, nuts, and many other healthy whole foods. Foods especially high in antioxidants are berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries), nuts (almonds, walnuts, Brazil nuts), and dark leafy greens (collard greens, kale, spinach).
- Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory and can effectively combat acne, psoriasis, and other skin conditions triggered by inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids also regulate cell membrane health by filtering waste that can affect your skin. Consume foods high in omega-3s including walnuts, flax seeds, and fatty types of fish like tuna and mackerel, or talk to your doctor about omega-3 supplements that help drive weight loss while also improving skin health.
- Water keeps your skin hydrated and helps prevent the development of fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging. Drinking lots of water can help your skin look more plump and firm, regardless of your age. Talk to your doctor about the amount of water you should drink daily based on your activity level, and consume plenty of foods high in water such as watermelon, cantaloupe, and oranges.
Need help improving your diet for weight loss and more youthful-looking skin? Garcia Weight Loss offers personalized weight loss programs designed to help you look and feel your best. Contact us today for your no-cost consultation!
Medically reviewed by Jay J. Garcia, MD on July 14, 2017