Can you eat your way to healthy, radiant skin?
It may seem too simple — or delicious! — to be true. But the fact is: the skin is a mirror that reflects internal health. We can’t forget that the skin is the body’s largest organ and that everything in the body is SO intimately connected.
After years of looking to lotions and potions for naturally clear, glowing skin, I finally got the results I was looking for when I started eating a nutrient-dense, real food diet, and working to remedy a number of internal imbalances that — like poor gut health, hormonal imbalances, and chronic inflammation — that manifest in the skin.
While the connection between nutrition and skin health is missing from most conversations regarding skincare and in Western medicine, I’m on a mission to change that with my new book Glow: The Nutritional Approach to Naturally Gorgeous Skin. This book is chock-full of information but a very practical guide to providing your skin with the nutrients it needs to build, protect, and repair itself, as well as how to remedy the internal imbalances that trigger common skin issues like acne, eczema, and premature aging.
Some foods are especially rich in the glow-getting nutrients the skin absolutely adores…
8 Skin-Loving Superfoods for a Naturally Glowing Complexion
Fermented vegetables are loaded with gut-loving probiotics. And what does the gut have to do with the skin? Oh, so much more than you would think. (That’s why there’s a whole section dedicated to the topic in Glow!).
First of all, when digestion is impaired, our bodies can’t make the most of the nutrients in the foods we eat — they simply go to waste. Just as important, digestive distress is a major cause of chronic inflammation in the body, which is a major trigger behind the inflammatory skin issues like acne and eczema, and also causes premature aging.
Plus, the “good” gut bacteria (like that found in fermented vegetables) actually synthesize a number of the key glow-getting vitamins, like biotin and vitamin K2.
Those topical skincare products that contain collagen? They’re a total gimmick — the collagen molecules are too large to be absorbed by the skin! But dietary collagen is an entirely different story…
Let’s back up and first discuss what collagen is, exactly. Collagen is a fibrous protein found in the connective tissues of your body that provides a supportive structure for those tissues. Collagen is what keeps our skin smooth and supple. But as we age, collagen formation decreases. When we eat foods rich in collagen (such a bone broth) or supplement with collagen peptides, we provide our skin with the exact building blocks it needs to restore and produce collagen.
Now you may have noticed that collagen is slowly taking over the natural health market. But my personal favorite source of collagen peptides is Perfect Supplements – it’s extremely high-quality, the most reasonably priced around, and family-owned by the sweetest people ever!
Salmon is a rich source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, helping to reduce this common skin trigger. A number of studies have also demonstrated that omega-3s can decrease the redness and burning associated with UV exposure as well as decrease the risk of certain types of skin cancer. Salmon is also rich in the powerhouse antioxidant astaxanthin, helping to fight free radical damage (fun fact: astaxanthin is said to be 6,000 times more powerful than vitamin C!). And healthy fatty acids such as those found in salmon also help keep the skin supple and moisturized.
Not only are berries loaded with free radical fighting antioxidants, they’re low in sugar, reducing the risk of the pro-inflammatory spike in blood sugar and insulin you can get from sweeter fruits (yes, even natural sugars can spike your blood sugar levels!).
Pumpkin seeds are a fantastic source of zinc, which aids cell repair and regeneration, and supports the production of elastin, another fibrous protein (in addition to collagen) that keeps the skin supple and elastic. And since zinc plays an important anti-inflammatory role in the skin’s immune system, it can be especially helpful for those suffering from an inflammatory skin condition such as acne or eczema. Interestingly, individuals with acne tend to have lower levels of zinc than individuals without acne.
Note: I prefer these sprouted pumpkin seeds, which are easier on the digestive system.
Watercress is another antioxidant powerhouse. Loaded in vitamins A and C, it helps to protect the skin from free radical damage and reduce inflammation.
Rich in skin-loving monounsaturated fats, avocados help keep the skin soft and supple. They’re also packed with free radical fighting antioxidants, especially vitamin E. It’s also a great source of cleansing fiber, which helps keep your digestive system (again, the health of which is so super important to the health of your skin) and detoxification systems running in tip-top shape.
This cruciferous vegetable aids the liver in detoxification, especially the detoxification of used and excess hormones. Hormones play a key role in the health of the skin, and so it’s important to keep them in balance.