Here are some foods the experts suggest biting into for great skin.
If you’ve spent your life in pursuit of a flawless complexion, you’ve likely tried more than just a few tricks and techniques for getting beautiful skin. From the time you were a teen, you took your mother’s advice—always washing your makeup off before bed, moisturizing daily, and never forgetting the SPF. You’ve never turned your nose up at your grandmother’s passed-down and tried-and-true products. After all, her skin is still stunning at age 80. Maybe you even sampled all the latest and greatest products to hit the beauty aisle. One factor you may not have considered in your quest for radiant skin, however, is your diet which can have a greater impact on your skin than you might think. We turned to the two dermatologists behind New Orleans' Audubon Dermatology, Dr. Sarah Jackson and Dr. Deirdre Hooper, to get the lowdown on what foods promotes healthy derma. “There is data to suggest that a low glycemic index diet helps clear skin,” says Dr. Jackson who goes on to explain how adopting this type diet means avoiding sugars and foods that affect your blood sugar levels, like carbohydrates and even milk sugars. “You should try a dietary strategy for four to six weeks and if it doesn’t help in that time frame, it might not work for you at all,” Dr. Hooper adds, “And while this can be healthy diet to adopt, it’s important to remember that there no replacement for seeing a board certified dermatologist.” Here’s some other foods they suggest biting into for great skin.
“When you consume a fatty fish, you bring omega-3 fatty acids to your body, which is a great way to boost a glowing complexion. Good fats, in general, can help make skin radiant. We recommend eating salmon or another source of omega-3 fatty acid at least three times a week,” says Dr. Jackson. Here are a few of our favorite salmon recipes.
“Foods with a high water content and a lot of dietary fiber are part of a low glycemic diet,” Dr. Hooper explains. So, instead of reaching for a sugary snack that can spike your blood sugar levels and contribute to acne, bite into fruits and vegetables that contain a lot of water like watermelon or cucumber.
Shrimp and other shellfish are not only a staple of the Southern diet, they contain a high level of Zinc which promotes healthy immune function. Dr. Jackson explains, “It also helps control inflammation by triggering the birth of white blood cells and promotes healthy skin by carrying vitamin A to your skin and regulating your body’s hormonal response.” Other foods like nuts, beans, mushrooms, chicken, pork, and even dark chocolate are also packed with this health-promoting element.
This holiday season when you find Brazil nuts in the bottom of your stocking, know that Santa is giving you more than a yummy treat, he’s giving you a selenium-loaded food that can improve your skin. “Selenium is a trace mineral and vital nutrient for our cells. It is highly anti-inflammatory and is considered to be a stronger combination when partnered with vitamin E (found in foods such as almonds) to fight free radicals—the harmful and highly reactive molecules released by skin in response to environmental factors like UV rays and smog,” says Dr. Jackson. So go ahead, dig into the mixed nuts!
All citrus is packed with vitamin C, which has a number of health benefits including some that are great for skin. “Vitamin C strengthens the immune system, thereby increasing the skin’s ability to fight bacteria that causes acne. It also has healing properties that stimulate the growth of ligaments and tissues, which can help heal acne scars," Dr. Hooper says and goes on to add one extra benefit of the fruit. “It also boosts the production of collagen, which promotes healthy, radiant skin.” For other sources of vitamin C you can incorporate Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and tomatoes into your diet.
Maybe falling off the turnip truck isn’t such a bad thing. Turnip greens are packed with vitamin E and as Dr. Jackson explains, “Vitamin E neutralizes free radicals that can damage follicles and increase keratin formation. It is a fat soluble antioxidant and easily absorbs into skin promoting tissue repair.”
Our Fennel-and-Potato Gratin can help you prevent acne. As Dr. Hooper explains, “Fennel is antiseptic by nature, and is loaded with antioxidants that help prevent acne and cell damage. When consumed, fennel imparts a cooling effect to the skin. It calms irritation and inflammation.”
Hearts of Palm
Packed with vitamin B that helps regulate hormones, one of the major causes of acne, hearts of palm also offers up other important nutrients such as B6. “B6 is an essential cofactor for other B vitamins to work for your skin. It also helps prevent excess production of sebum (skin’s oil of which too much can contribute to acne). If you don’t have all your B vitamins, it doesn’t do you any good to have just one. Not getting enough vitamin B6 cancels out the effects of folic acid, niacin, and B12 to fight inflammation,” she explains. Foods like dried prunes and apricots, and bananas are also are high in these vitamins.
“Allicin, found in garlic, breaks down into sulfenic acid—an antioxidant that fights free radicals faster than any other antioxidant. Allicin aids in the formation of glutathione, a super-powerful antioxidant that your body makes, and acne patients commonly lack that inhibits them from fighting bacteria,” Dr. Hooper explains.
Possibly your new favorite sandwich topping, this veggie can have wonderful effects for the skin. “Alfalfa sprouts contain vitamin A, which is so important in building healthy skin. Due to its blood purifying ability, it has a mild antibiotic effect on skin and has helped reduce skin blemishes,” says Dr. Jackson. She goes on to explain how it can even be effective in anti-aging, “The enzymes found in alfalfa slow down the aging process by helping fight inflammation.”