Skincare is usually something we do to the outside of our bodies, like putting on moisturizer and sunscreen, exfoliating, and having treatments done. This is important because of the many stressors and damages were exposed to every day, but maintaining healthy skin is also an inside-out activity, giving in to the saying “you are what you eat.” Since our skin is made of the vitamins, minerals, and other compounds we get from food, many of which our bodies can’t produce on their own, a balanced diet is a basic strategy we can all use to care for our skin every day.
Our bodies can make many nutrients we need, like biotin, cholesterol, and some amino and fatty acids. These are known as “non-essential.” Essential nutrients are those we get from foods that our bodies don’t produce, like proteins and lipids, some carbohydrates, and many vitamins and minerals. All of these are necessary for good cell health and function. Fruits and vegetables deliver a lot of nutrients that support various processes in the body, including maintaining skin.
Plants are rich in antioxidants like vitamins C and E that help maintain skin cells from producing free radicals, which can damage cells. Healthy cells build healthy tissue, so targeting cell health at the nutrient level supports skin from the bottom up. Apples, oranges, bananas, and pomegranates are examples of nutrient dense antioxidant fruits. Others like strawberries and pineapples support cell metabolization or nutrient processing, one of our own body’s ways of exfoliating (removing dead cells). Broccoli, artichoke, and tomatoes are nutrient-dense, antioxidant-rich vegetables that deliver important vitamins and minerals to support cell function.
One of the main ways our bodies get moisture is from the water, oils, and juices in foods. Aside from nutrients, food provides us with hydration that gets released slowly throughout our system, again, from the inside out. Our skin is dried regularly from air and sunlight. While creams and oils are important to deliver moisture and keep it in, water from foods like grapes, avocado, and green leaves will deliver fluids to the muscle tissue and new cells under our exposed skin, supporting growth of cells that are healthy and hydrated from the beginning. Other plant foods like nuts, seeds, and beans are essential contributions to a balanced diet. Omega-3 rich foods support collagen production, which helps skin retain moisture and elasticity, leading to bright, tight skin.
While fruits may be heavy in sugar content, they are unrefined sugars (unlike sodas, corn syrup, and cane sugar) and are more easily used and processed by the body. Still, it’s important to make sure there are enough vegetables and other kinds of foods to balance out any sugars and maintain healthy blood glucose levels. When blood sugar levels rise, insulin levels rise, boosting sebum production, resulting in acne and other skin irritation. High blood sugar is dehydrating since it replaces water content in the blood. This can lead to dry skin and rashes. Carb-heavy food like bread and pasta can also bring about and exacerbate skin problems like acne or eczema, as can dairy products and chocolate. Of course, people are unique, so not everyone will react the same way to a given food item.
Fruits and vegetables are essential parts of our diets, providing important nutritional support to our bodies, including our skin. Healthy and bright skin can start as easily as making the decision to include more plants in your diet. To find out more about your body and skin’s specific dietary needs, schedule a consultation with one of our dermatologists.