The best foods to eat for glowing skin
Your skin is your body’s largest organ and is usually a good indicator of what lies beneath, health-wise at least. And while there are many reasons for your skin’s appearance, from genetics to the climate you live in, one of the most significant contributing factors is food.
Yes, when it comes to skin, you are what you eat.
Diets high in refined sugar can result in sagging; too much alcohol manifests as dehydrated skin and enlarged pores; breakouts, dark circles, puffiness and more can all be signs of food intolerances. Put simply, the wrong food can prematurely age your skin.
But the great news is that just as food can be your skin’s poison, it can also be its medicine.
So, how does food affect our skin in this way? And what are the best foods for glowing skin?
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In this article:
Why does good food matter?
To help understand what kinds of food will help achieve glowing skin, it’s a good idea to know what you’re fighting against in the first place.
Inflammation is the enemy of the skin. Whatever the cause - something going on in your gut or certain lifestyle choices - inflammation will be ageing your skin faster than it should. So, what is it?
If you’ve every burned yourself, your body will swell and become red around the affected area. This is your body’s positive emergency response to start the healing process. However, our bodies are developing a chronic form of inflammation that triggers a mild form of this reaction day in, day out. We are then working so hard to fight this inflammation, cells are being damaged and our skin suffers. Classic inflamm-agers are alcohol and sugar, excess weight, stress, and smoking.
Your body produces thousands of free radicals every day, from exposure to the sun, smoking, pollution, as well as being a normal metabolic reaction. They are basically molecules that have an odd number of electrons. Normally, electrons appear in pairs so when a free radical forms, it tries to replace its missing electron from the molecules around it. That molecule then ends up unpaired, and tries to snatch a partner from another molecule, and so on. This constant chopping and changing eventually leads to cell damage.
What to eat for glowing skin
Antioxidants are miracle workers when it comes to positive ageing. They are absolutely vital in fighting free radical damage as they donate an electron to the unpaired molecules that are pinging around damaging cells in their search for a partner.
Naturally bursting with antioxidants, they help the skin maintain its elasticity, preventing it from sagging.
- Dark chocolate
A high percentage of cocoa can help hydrate skin and improve blood flow. One study also found that just 20g a day could allow your skin to withstand twice as much UV light before burning.
Vitamins and minerals
Vitamin A, C, D and the Bs are all excellent at combating inflamm-ageing, but all vitamins and minerals have their benefits.
- Vitamin A – combats dry and flaky skin and encourages cell renewal.
- Vitamin B - essential for cell reproduction and can help reduce inflammation, dryness and acne.
- Vitamin C – brightens, improves pigmentation and reduces the impact of sun damage.
- Vitamin E – reduces inflammation and redness helping to give a clear complexion.
- Folate – assists DNA repair within cells.
The really great news is that most of the foods containing the vitamins and minerals you need are also packed with antioxidants. Win, win.
- Leafy greens
Spinach, kale and rocket are great all-rounders.
- Nuts and seeds
Excellent sources of three major vitamins – A, B and E. Most nuts also contain high levels of healthy omega-3 fatty acids and zinc.
Great for: acne and signs of ageing
- Sweet potatoes
A great source of beta carotene, which converts into vitamin A inside our bodies.
Great for: hyperpigmentation and dark spots
- Red and yellow peppers
Also bursting with beta carotene along with high levels of vitamin C.
Packed full of vitamins A and C, and has a great supply of lutein (helps protect your skin from oxidative damage), and sulforaphane (neutralises some of the damage caused by UV rays).
Great for: cellulite
Healthy fats – specifically monosaturated fats and the omega-3 fats, and a smaller amount of omega-6 fats - are all excellent anti-inflammatories, stabilise blood-sugar levels which helps minimise sugar cravings.
- Mackerel and salmon
Oily fish are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids that help strengthen skin cell membranes and facilitate the movement of water and nutrients into your cells.
Great for: rosacea, signs of ageing, eczema and psoriasis
Packed full of protein and vitamins, as well as healthy fats, they help relieve dry skin and shrink pores.
Great for: signs of ageing
Protein is the basis for all living cells. Its collagen and amino acids help maintain skin’s elasticity and firmness, balance hormones and help build a healthy immune system. Find it in fish, chicken, meat, beans and pulses, eggs and soy.
True hydration comes from within and it’s recommended that women drink 2.5 litres and men drink 3.5 litres of water a day to be truly topped up. Herbal teas also count.
Aside from containing an antioxidant called lycopene, tomatoes contain around 95 per cent water and are effective hydrators.
Great for: flaky skin and signs of ageing
A note on spices…
Many spices have anti-inflammatory effects on the body – ginger, garlic, cayenne pepper, black pepper and chilli are all great. However, the most potent spice you can add to your diet is turmeric. Studies have found that its anti-inflammatory properties have a similar effect to painkillers when it comes to certain conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Your ideal plate
Like many things in life, the key to success is consistency. Munching on raw broccoli is not much fun and most of us will give up within a few days, never mind a few weeks. Ensuring your plate is full of a variety of exciting looking and delicious tasting food will help maintain a healthy way of eating as a lifestyle and not a flash-in-the-pan diet.
- Fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables (think ‘eat the rainbow’).
- One quarter of your plate, add good quality protein (it should be the size of your palm).
- The other quarter should be whole grains or complex carbohydrates (brown rice, sweet potato, quinoa).
- Add some good fats in there too and you are good to go.
Getting more out of your treatments…
Your diet goes a long way to giving you that warm glow. And it also boosts the impact of any aesthetic treatments you get. It makes sense that a restorative facial or a bit of Botox will look better on skin that already has all the benefits of antioxidants and vitamins.
And if you have an ongoing skin condition, where diet can only do so much, a little extra help is always an option. Certain aesthetic treatments, such as chemical peels, microdermabrasion or microneedling tackle your condition whilst also helping to give you a glowing complexion.
Whatever your reasons, you will most definitely get more out of your treatments if you are following a healthy diet.
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