A question I get asked all the time is what to eat for healthy skin, what should I eat to look younger, what foods will make my skin healthier and more youthful? Conversely, what foods will age me prematurely?
In this article we’re gonna go over what to eat to look younger and have better skin and which foods you need to avoid to prevent premature aging.
Did you know that what you eat has a profound impact on how quickly you age and how your skin looks? Lots of studies are showing that is true.
Foods to Eat For Healthy, Youthful Skin
Fruits and Vegetables
The first thing you need to remember is to eat the rainbow. What does this mean?
When I say eat the rainbow, what I mean is eat the rainbow of fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are great for your skin and one of the reasons why they are is because of the antioxidants that are present in these fruits and vegetables.
One thing to remember that is very important is that the antioxidants are often the actual pigments that make up the color of those fruits and vegetables.
The wider the array of colors that you eat, the wider the array of pigments and the wider the array of antioxidants.
Antioxidants are super important because they fight free radicals, which are one of the things that really prematurely age us. You may have heard the process called oxidation. That’s what free radicals participate is in oxidation.
So by eating the rainbow of fruits and vegetables, you are eating all those pigments, you’re getting all those different colors in all of those antioxidants to neutralize those free radicals, to slow down that aging process.
Instead of eating, let’s say, all green, try to eat green and red and yellow and orange and whatever colors are fruits and vegetables.
Eat more avocados, walnuts, sunflower seeds, sweet potatoes, red or yellow bell peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, green tea.
I encourage you to eat good fats. This doesn’t mean to eat all types of fats but good fats and there is a big difference here.
Depending on when you grew up, depending what you’ve read, some people believe that all fat is bad for you and that you should always eat a very low-fat diet and that’s not true. It’s not that all fat is bad for you. Some fats are bad, but some fats are actually good.
The good ones to consider are omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fatty acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids are found often in coldwater fish, while monounsaturated fatty acids are found in nuts and seeds.
These are considered good fats because they actually will reduce inflammation and they can even moisturize your skin from the inside out.
Fermented foods are foods that are chock full of probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria for your gut.
There’s something called the gut skin axis. It means that there is a connection between the health of your gut and the health of your skin.
People who have an unhealthy gut often will find inflammation and issues with the quality of their skin as well.
What we mean by healthy gut is also a healthy microbiome.
The microbiome are the trillions of bacteria that live inside our gut. Sometimes that microbiome can be unhealthy. If you’ve been on a lot of antibiotics, if you’re eating a lot of bad foods, then you can have a very unhealthy microbiome and this can show in your skin.
Fermented foods and probiotics will bring in healthy, good bacteria to your intestines, to your gut and that can then show in healthier skin.
I would encourage you to eat good amount of fermented foods, because the American diet is completely devoid of fermented foods.
What should you eat? Kefir, sauerkraut, miso, kimchi, kombucha. These are all good options to get good probiotics into your gut.
Dark Chocolate and Red Wine
Here’s some good news for those of you who do like to indulge.
Dark chocolate is really good for your skin but dark chocolate and milk chocolate are very different.
Milk chocolate is not good for your skin or your health because there’s too much sugar in it. Ideally you want to have dark chocolate with 70% of cacao or more. That way you’re gonna have a lower amount of sugar and it’s gonna have a higher amount of antioxidants, which are great for your skin.
Red wine is also really good for your skin but only about a glass a day. The good thing about red wine is that it contains resveratrol, which is one of the most powerful anti-aging antioxidants that you can ingest.
Red wine is the best place to get resveratrol but that doesn’t mean that you should have three glasses of red wine a day. One glass is typically plenty. When you start drinking more than that, the toxic effects of the alcohol start to outweigh the beneficial effects of the resveratrol.
Foods to Avoid For Healthy Skin
Try to remember to avoid eating sugar. This is a tough one because so many of us here in the United States and Canada and really all over the world are addicted to sugar.
Sugar ages us prematurely in two ways.
The first way is that eating a lot of sugar will cause sugar spikes in your blood. That causes insulin spikes because your pancreas will secrete insulin as a reaction to the sugar spikes. When you get insulin spikes, you can get inflammation from it. Chronic insulin spikes equals chronic inflammation and inflammation is one of the driving forces of aging in our bodies.
The second way that eating sugar causes us to age prematurely and gives us worst skin is due to the process of glycation.
During glycation, when you eat sugar, those sugar molecules will actually bond to the collagen of your skin and it can cause that collagen to become more kinked and cause your skin to actually become prematurely aged.
So sugar attacks are aging by two different ways: inflammation and glycation. That’s why you got to really stay away from it.
It’s not just sugar desserts that you should avoid. That’s the first step, but also avoid sugary sodas. You want to avoid these types of sweet drinks and you also want to avoid things, as much as you can, like white bread, white rice and white pasta because these are also turned to sugar in our bloodstream and give us those sugar spikes.
Definitely you want to limit the amount of sugar that you eat for good skin.
I encourage you to avoid eating dairy. Milk does your body good, it’s the perfect food, if you’re a growing calf.
Dairy is not necessarily good for us humans because the issue with dairy is it’s not made for people, it’s made for cows.
This does not apply for babies who drink breast milk. That is the perfect food for a human baby as human breast milk. But regular dairy from cows is not a good food humans because we react to it and we create inflammation in our bodies from that.
A lot of people react to casein which is in dairy and so many of the population around the world is also lactose intolerant.
Dairy is popular in Europe and in the United States, where it’s primarily a Caucasian population. But if you get outside of these areas and you have people with darker skin, Asians, Latinos, Africans, African Americans, they do not tolerate dairy so much and there is a high incidence of lactose intolerance.
Dairy is not something I recommend if you’ve got acne issues. The first thing you may want to try is going off of dairy.
Try to avoid processed foods. There are a lot of reasons why processed foods are bad for you because there’s a lot of different things in them that you have to avoid.
First thing are trans-fats. A lot of processed desserts and processed baked goods contain trans fats. These are industrially modified vegetable or plant oils that are really inflammatory for your body and for your skin.
So many processed foods are filled with soybean oil and that is endemic in processed foods. About 98 percent or so of the soy beans grown in the United States are GMO.
They may also have residues of glyphosate, which is a potential carcinogen in them.
Processed foods are also filled with different types of sugar and so you really want to stay away from processed foods. They will definitely age you prematurely.
More Food Tips
Here are five simple tips and tricks that you can do with what you eat to help your skin look better and to help you age more slowly.
- Blueberries are filled with powerful anti-aging antioxidants. These fight free radicals, but unfortunately one study showed that if you combine regular milk with blueberries, the milk neutralizes the antioxidant effects of those blueberries. If you like adding blueberries to your cereal or to your oatmeal in the morning, try switching from regular milk to almond milk. Then you’re gonna still be able to have your cereal and your oatmeal and your blueberries and get that antioxidant punch.
- Per gram, herbs and seasonings pack more antioxidant punch than almost any other foods. If you’re a coffee drinker, try adding just a little bit of cinnamon, just to pinch a cinnamon to your coffee every morning. That’s going to add more antioxidants which are great for your skin.
- Microwave popcorn bags are coated with a substance very similar to that that you find in non-stick pans and when that is heated up, it turns into a substance called perfluorooctanoic acid. This is a likely carcinogen. So try to avoid microwave popcorn for your health and for your skin.
- Did you know that diet soda pop is filled with unnaturally sweet sugar substitutes some of which have been known to cause cancer in laboratory rats. Studies also show that people who drink a lot of diet soda pop have a higher risk of being overweight and developing type 2 diabetes than people who don’t drink soda pop. Try getting rid of that diet soda pop because it’s not gonna help you lose weight.
- Red wine has been shown to have more antioxidants like resveratrol than white wine. We think this is due to the increased amount of time that red wine spends in contact with grape skins than white wine. If you’re thinking about drinking wine, try to stick with red over white and try to limit it to just one glass a day for your health.
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Rebecca is a licensed aesthetician and certified laser technician with almost 15 years experience in the dermatology. Her life-long passion is making people look good and happy.