I’ve been sharing a lot about my health journey lately—from where it started, my experience with the functional medicine doctor and my most recent update! One of my biggest health goals was to clear my skin, but ironically enough, nothing we are doing is directly tied to my skin’s health.
Nope, in fact, everything we’re working on has to do with my gut health and stress levels. Our skin health is actually a reflection of our gut health and what we’re putting in our body directly effects what our skin looks like.
Paired with some lifestyle changes and working on reducing stress, I’ve seen HUGE changes and wanted to share some of the best foods to eat for good skin health, whether you’re dealing with breakouts or aging skin, eating more of these will help everyone!
How Food Affects Your Skin
For so long, dermatologists told me that what I was eating didn’t really affect my skin. I now know just how wrong that is and it makes me sad that I was told that lie for so long!
The Best Foods for Healthy Skin
1. Sweet Potatoes
I’m so glad I finally learned to like this powerhouse food! Sweet potatoes are a good source of Vitamin C that helps to support our immune system. A properly functioning immune system can help fight off infection and keep our skin looking great.
2. Leafy Greens
Think greens like kale, spinach, romaine, collard greens and chard. They’re full of beta carotene and Vitamin E which help repair and restore skin. They also had a lot of good fiber to our diets which helps to support healthy digestion. Did you know that healthy digestion is directly tied to the health and look of our skin?! If you maintain good gut health, your skin will reflect that!
Avocado is super high in healthy fats which help prevent wrinkles and skin aging. They also have lots of vitamin E which helps to heal our skin.
The best part? Avocados are incredibly tasty and easy to add to nearly every meal of the day. My dietician suggested limiting your avocado intake to no more than 1/3 of an avocado per sitting if you have digestive issues. They’ve got a lot of fiber and can be tough on your body to digest a bunch in one sitting.
Salmon and other oily fish, like mackerel and sardines, are high in omega-3 fatty acids and one of the very best sources of them. It’s best to find wild-caught salmon to get the best health benefits. Not only are these omega 3s really great for our skin, but they also help support heart health!
If you don’t like fish, consider adding fish oil like cod liver oil to your diet. I actually take 2 Tbsp of cod liver oil every night with dinner for extra omega 3s and lowers inflammation in your body. Breakouts are directly tied to inflammation in our bodies, so reducing that can help keep skin clear and healthy.
5. Olive Oil
We took a trip to Italy several years ago and the older woman teaching our cooking class had the most beautiful looking skin. Her secret? Lots of olive oil! Ever since then, I use this healthy cooking oil a lot more liberally!
Another great healthy fat, it’s packed with vitamin E and can help prevent the signs of aging.
6. Nuts & Seeds
Nuts and seeds are a great source of healthy fats and protein that help support our skin. They make for an easy snack when you’re on the go and taste yummy too! Some of the best to snack on are walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, cashews and chia seeds.
Tomatoes are high in lycopene which can help protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays, is protective against the risks of skin cancer. Foods high in lycopene are anti-inflammatory and can help keep our skin looking smooth and calm.
I love that berries are so good for your skin because they’re one of my favorite fruits! They boost skin hydration, lowers inflammation and can help smooth skin texture. They’ve got lots of Vitamin C that helps fight free radicals.
Cilantro is a great herb in helping liver detoxification. Our livers are responsible for removing toxins from our body and if you’re eating foods that support liver function, your liver can do a better job and cleansing and detoxifying your body. When your liver gets backed up, the rest of the systems behind it start to back up and that’s when inflammation starts.
Maintaining good liver health is crucial to maintaining healthy skin. If you’re supporting your liver, you’re doing good things for your skin. I love adding a sprinkle of cilantro in Asian and Mexican dishes and I also love making this detox pesto that’s great on sandwiches, eggs, pasta or anything else you can think of!
This green veggie is one of my favorites! It’s high in Vitamin C which helps fight free radicals. Free radicals contribute to the aging process, so anything that helps fight against them is good in my book!
11. Green Tea
Not only is sipping on green tea good for keeping you hydrated, but green tea is packed with polyphenols called catechins. These are responsible for helping reduce inflammation and have anticancer agents—not bad for a little ole tea! You can drink steeped green tea or matcha, which is pulverized green tea leaves. I personally love matcha lattes and have a really tasty recipe here.
12. Red Bell Peppers
Any bell peppers are good, but red bell peppers have twice the amount of vitamin C as other peppers and helps to support collagen production which is great for your skin. Try them in soups, salads or sliced thinly on a sandwich!
Technically kombucha isn’t a good, but this fermented tea drink is full of natural probiotics that support gut health. Like I mentioned earlier, a healthy gut is the starting place for healthy skin. A daily dose of probiotics can help maintain healthy gut bacteria, allowing the good stuff to flourish. When I’m drinking kombucha on a regular basis, I feel better all over!
14. Dark Chocolate
Naturally, fruits and vegetables are wonderful for your skin because of all of the vitamins and natural hydration they provide to our bodies, but dark chocolate has benefits for your skin as well. They contain an antioxidant called flavonol that helps prevent aging! That’s right, a little square of dark chocolate after dinner can actually be helpful, so go ahead and indulge—just don’t eat the whole bar.
15. Red Wine
Like dark chocolate, you might not have expected to find red wine on this list. Red wine contains polyphenols and resveratrol which fights against the signs of aging by restoring collagen in our skin. I read the French Beauty Solution and she talks about these benefits in there!
No, I don’t suggest you start drinking a bottle of red wine a night! Too much alcohol will dehydrate you and leave your skin looking dull. But, a half glass to a glass of red wine a night can be beneficial to your health.
Opt for organic, sulfate-free red wines when you can! Pomegranates also have polyphenols, so if you’re not a wine drinker, try adding a some pomegranate seeds to your diet each week!
Which Foods To Avoid For Healthy Skin
It’s good to know which foods are best for your skin, but which ones should you avoid? Unfortunately, the modern American diet is full of processed junk foods and marketing that makes it hard to navigate the grocery store shelves. Here are some of the worst things you can eat for your skin.
Sugar is hard to avoid completely, but for the sake of this story, I’m talking about added sugars. Not the naturally occurring sugars that you’ll find in fruits and some veggies. When you’re eating a diet that’s high in sugar, you’re more likely to breakout. According to this article, eating sugar doesn’t cause acne, exactly. But, the way our body reacts to too much insulin in our blood leads to inflammation and eventually acne.
It’s nearly impossible to avoid sugar at all costs, but start checking the labels on products you buy. You might be surprised by how much sugar is in them!
For some people, dairy isn’t an issue, but for others, it can be the cause of inflammation. That was true for me. When I cut out dairy from my diet, I saw a pretty immediate change in my skin—less red and prone to breakouts—and I felt better overall.
If you deal with skin issues, try removing dairy from your diet for a couple of weeks and see what happens.
I know I said earlier that green tea, which contains caffeine, is one of the best foods for your skin and I stand by that! Caffeine is a double-edged sword. In small doses, it’s perfectly fine! When you start drinking 2, 3, 4 or more caffeinated drinks every day, that’s when problems arise. Too much caffeine is really hard on our adrenals. When our adrenals get overly fatigued it’s like a domino effect and other systems in our body start to collapse.
For me, adrenal fatigue led to a hormone imbalance which is the main cause of breakouts. Now I try to stick to one caffeinated drink a day.
Packaged and processed foods are often the biggest culprits when it comes to sneaky bad foods. They’re often full of preservatives, chemicals, sodium and added sugars. All that extra stuff isn’t necessary and can cause major problems in our body that lead to skin issues. Always check the labels and try to buy whole, fresh foods when you can!