Your diet may be affecting the quality of your skin. Here’s what you should be munching on – and what you should be leaving on the grocery store shelf.
We get it – your skin care routine is as unique as you, and despite its multi-step process, you likely stick to it without fail. But in addition to the serums, sunscreens and salves that you apply from head-to-toe, is there more that you could be doing to ensure your skin is glowing and healthy?
The short answer, according to Anisha Gupta MS, a registered dietitian and nutrition coach, is yes.
“My clients have noticed improvements in their skin when they start to have a more balanced diet and lifestyle,” she explains. And the good news is, you’re probably already doing a lot of the practices that your skin responds positively to. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables is a great place to start, as is eating lean meats (after all, Anisha points out, skin is made from protein) and exercising regularly. If you count these among your daily must-dos, you are already well on your way to maxing out the condition of your complexion.
On the flipside, there are certain dietary habits that can impact your face negatively, from acne outbreaks, to puffiness, to dry skin – maybe even more wrinkles, Anisha adds.
“Some people do notice that they get more breakouts when they eat high-fat or high-sugar foods, or dairy products,” she cautions. The best way to determine your sensitivity, as these factors are unique to the individual, is to track your diet and note if there is a link to any skin issues. Bowel movements may also hold a clue – if your gut bacteria are unhappy with your diet, the results can show on your skin.
Though supplements that promise better-skin results have flooded the market as of late, Anisha recommends not relying too heavily on pills and instead looking to whole-food sources of vitamins and minerals that can help your face.
“I believe that food science is still a new science, so there are probably things in foods we haven’t discovered yet,” she explains. “If someone has trouble getting certain nutrients because of allergies or dietary habits or has had blood work to show they have significantly less [of certain nutrients] in their body, then I’d recommend supplements.”
Healthy fats from avocados and nuts
in particular can help boost your skin while providing full-body benefits. And much like the ingredients found in the lotions that you topically apply, antioxidants like vitamins A, C, D and E can help by encouraging collagen production, reducing inflammation and improving skin’s resistance to UV rays. Likewise, minerals such as zinc and selenium, when taken orally either in whole foods or through supplementation, can help heal UV damage and protect skin from future harm.
One issue with supplementation is that there isn’t much research to show a direct correlation between their use and better skin. Take collagen, for example. “Collagen [supplementation] is up for debate because the collagen powders we see marketed get digested into simple amino acids, the same as other protein sources, and not absorbed as collagen,” explains Anisha. Instead, the human body uses the protein that is eaten to make the collagen the body needs, which is why focusing on lean meats and other sources of protein in the diet is more important than simply feeding your body the end product.
Still, there are other things you must be doing if you want to ensure the appearance of your skin is all that it can be. “Sleep, sun exposure and stress play a role in skin health as well,” Anisha notes; genetics can also have influence on whether your skin is bouncy and fresh or dry and cracked. Last, Anisha notes that water should also be one of your go-tos for a sparkling complexion. Keep that water bottle full and sip on it throughout the day, if you aren’t already – a little hydration can go a long way in maintaining an enviable complexion.