Can your diet improve the health of your skin?

They say you are what you eat — but does that really apply to your skin?

As it turns out, it does. What you put into your body can affect the overall health and appearance of your skin. The more processed foods and sugars that you consume, the more likely you will be prone to oily skin and acne. On the other hand, the more foods you eat that are rich in antioxidants, the more likely you will be to have better-looking skin.

Not sure which foods to look for? Here are just a few foods that have been shown to not only improve the health of your skin, but your overall health as well.

Dark Chocolate

Yes, your prayers have been answered! Rich in cocoa flavanols, which has antioxidants that help hydrate your skin and improve circulation, consuming dark chocolate has been shown to make your skin more firm and supple. To get the most flavanol out of your dark chocolate, it’s recommended that you eat chocolate that’s at least 70 percent cacao. A couple squares a day should do the trick.

Yogurt

The protein you receive from eating dairy has been shown to help your skin become firmer and be more resistant to lines. If you want to be an overachiever, try Greek yogurt — it contains as much as double the amount of protein of regular yogurt.

Green Tea

Known to be very high in antioxidants, green tea has been shown to help reduce redness and fight inflammation. The ingredients in green tea have also been shown to boost blood flow and oxygen to the skin, which delivers key nutrients to keep your complexion more elastic, smooth and healthy.

Walnuts

Loaded with omega-3 essential fatty acids and copper, walnuts can help improve your skin’s elasticity and boost your body’s collagen production. It’s also the only type of nut that contains a significant amount of omega-3 fatty acids, which is especially important for vegetarians. Snack on a handful of walnuts a day to help improve your complexion.

Peppers

Carotenoids, the antioxidants found in yellow and orange vegetables can help decrease your skin’s sensitivity to the sun. And one study in the British Journal of Nutrition found that people who ate the most green and yellow vegetables (up to 250 grams) had fewer wrinkles compared to those who ate the least amount (69 grams) a day.

Sunflower seeds

Loaded with Vitamin E, sunflower seeds have been shown to keep your skin supple and pimple-free. Vitamin E is thought to enhance immune function, allowing the body to fight off the inflammation that leads to acne — and one ounce of sunflower seeds contain 37 percent of your daily Vitamin E needs.

Soy

Soy contains minerals and proteins that have been shown to reduce hyperpigmentation, leading to a clearer complexion. Studies have shown that by consuming a daily dose of 40 mg of aglycone, an isoflavone found in soy, individuals had fewer fine lines and improved skin elasticity within 12 weeks compared to a placebo. The isoflavone can help stop collagen from breaking down, which is what leads to sagging and lines.

To learn more about what foods will help improve the health of your skin, be sure to check out this article from Prevention and this one from Fitness Magazine.

Author Info

Charleston Dermatology