One of the reasons I first became interested in nutrition was because of this notion that food can be healing. The idea that what we put into our bodies can have a direct link to our overall health and wellness. I suppose these days that sounds pretty obvious to most people, but before Whole Foods became so popular and wellness was such a buzzword, it didn’t seem so linear to me.
I had an “aha moment” when I was in college and discovered that I was anemic. The iron supplements I was advised to take made me nauseous, and so it occurred to me that maybe I could eat more red meat and spinach instead. Never much of a meat eater and on a college budget, I opted for the spinach (and after more research added in legumes, eggs etc).
After spending the past few years studying nutrition, I think carefully about my diet and how to supplement with foods that my body may need at different times. A longtime sufferer of acne, I have come to see the correlation between a healthy diet and clear skin. Pick up any beauty magazine and you’ll probably see an article promising younger looking skin by eating some beauty-promoting food high in antioxidants (berries, usually). Most of the time, it’s probably true. Any fruit or vegetable high in antioxidants is going to be good for your skin, perhaps boost collagen and maybe slow the aging process. Personally, I am more concerned with clear skin than I am with aging (worry about that later, I guess). When I get lazy with my diet and eat foods I wouldn’t normally or drink too much alcohol or eat too much sugar, it usually shows on my face.
So I thought I’d share a few of the foods I think are the best for keeping skin clear and some suggestions of foods to cut out if you are having trouble with your skin (note that I am not a dermatologist, these are just suggestions that I have had success with).
- High fiber foods – leafy greens, whole grains, and vegetables – improper digestion can be the root cause of many health conditions (much of our immune system is in our gut!) If things are not properly flowing through our bodies, toxins can build up and it can show in many ways, including on your face.
- High water content foods – celery, cucumber, watermelon, citrus fruits. Same reasons as above, help flush out your system.
- Avocado – studies have shown that an imbalance of fatty acids can lead to a range of skin problems. Avocados are rich in healthy fats that can help keep skin balanced and healthy.
- Almonds – contain vitamin E, some studies have shown a link between vitamin E deficiency and acne. Almonds are full of fiber, healthy fat and protein, so you can’t go wrong here.
- Eggs – including the yolk. Eggs are incredibly nutrient dense and the yolk contains b vitamins and zinc. Zinc deficiency is another mineral thought to be connected to acne breakouts.
Foods to cut back on:
- Limit sugar and highly refined foods– one study looked at a low-glycemic diet and found that subjects experienced an overall improvement in acne (reduction in the number of lesions)
- Alcohol – can be inflammatory and increase redness
- Dairy – there is a lot of back and forth about dairy but all I will say is that some people (myself included) notice marked improvements in skin conditions when diary is eliminated from their diets. The beest way to tell is to cut out all dairy products for 2 weeks and see how your skin reacts. If it doesn’t get better then feel free to keep on chowing down on your cheddar.
Hope this helps!