Can You Eat Your Way to Beautiful Skin?

Five years ago, when I started on this journey of Redeeming Wellness, one of my main concerns was that as women, we were self-sabotaging our beauty. I desperately wanted to tell you that while “beauty can be skin deep,” and that beauty starts on the inside, all of that is for naught if you have a poor diet.

Everyone has a favorite face cream or treatment, but beautiful skin starts with nourishment from within. Eat the correct balance of foods and you'll feed your skin the vital nutrients it needs to help it stay soft, supple, and blemish-free.

Just like you can’t exercise away a poor diet, you can’t slather countless skin products on with a poor diet and expect great results. The majority of us never learned in school what our skin is made of. Well, here it is: fat cells. Skin cells (in a perfect world) have juicy, plump cell membranes. These membranes are designed to let in water, nutrients and hormones, and expel toxins and waste products. Older cells are constantly shed and replaced by younger ones and a steady supply of micronutrients is essential to support this rapid growth.

But what if you bought into the “low-fat/no-fat diet” for all these years? Then you haven’t been feeding your skin what it needs to retain its shape and texture. And your cell membranes deflate, dry up, and can’t take in nutrients or expel toxins. Think dry, scaly, and wrinkled.

According to Dr. Mercola:

“What you eat has a lot to do with the appearance of your complexion, and a number of skin problems, such as acne, can be cleared up simply by altering your diet.
As a general rule, a diet high in fresh vegetables, which are rich in bioflavanoids, and plenty of omega-3 fats will lay the necessary groundwork for a healthy, youthful complexion.”

Foods for beautiful skin:

Vitamin C
Vitamin C is also a super antioxidant. It is needed for a strong immune system, radiant skin, and it helps blemishes heal properly. Vitamin C aids in your body's production of collagen, which is the protein that forms the basic scaffolding of your skin. Collagen breakdown can leave your skin saggy, and vitamin C can help tighten it back up. The best sources are blackcurrants, blueberries, broccoli, guava, kiwi fruits, oranges, papaya, strawberries, Brussels sprouts, and sweet potatoes. They all help to produce collagen that strengthens the capillaries that supply the skin.

Eat a rainbow of colorful vegetables and aim for at least five portions a day. Beta-carotene, found in pumpkin, carrots, and sweet potatoes, and lutein, found in kale, papaya, and spinach are potent antioxidants, important for normal skin cell development and healthy skin tone.

Don't be afraid of fat
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats—the types found in avocados, fish, nuts, and seeds— provide essential fatty acids which act as a natural moisturizer for your skin, keeping it supple. These fats also come packaged with a healthy dose of vitamin E (a vitamin many of us lack), which will help protect against free-radical damage. 

Omega 3
This essential fatty acid must come from our diet and fish has always been the No. 1 source of animal-based omega-3. Fish high in omega-3 while being low in toxins like mercury include wild-caught Alaskan salmon (not Atlantic salmon, which is typically farmed), and small fatty fish like sardines and anchovies.

Drink up
Skin needs moisture to stay flexible. Even mild dehydration will cause your skin to look dry, tired and slightly grey. Drink six to eight glasses of water a day—all fluids count towards your daily allowance, but water is the best. If you work in an office, keep a large glass or steel bottle of water on your desk to remind you to drink. Or download the smart phone app “Waterlogged” to set up a reminder. Herbal, caffeine-free teas are good too. Try to avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, both can age the skin.

Healthy Skin Is Created from the Inside Out
By keeping your insides healthy and clean, your skin will have no choice but follow suit and mirror your internal state. To accomplish this, you need to pay careful attention to what you put into your body.

Once you make changes to your diet, don't expect an overnight miracle. It takes six weeks for new skin to emerge up to the surface, so the visible benefits from dietary changes will take just as long.

One addition to your diet that I always recommend to help improve the health and vibrancy of your skin is a product called Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides; it's derived from grass-fed / pasture-raised cows, and makes a great protein boost for your morning smoothie! Click here to check out my Favorites page, which features Vital Proteins products as well as a link to purchase. 

Do you think of food as part of your skin-care routine? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this... Leave a comment below and we'll get the conversation started!