You are what you eat!
You’ve heard that saying. We’re learning just how true it is.
Recent studies, for example, have reported that consuming dairy and high glycemic foods can increase breakouts in those who are acne-prone. (Read more about how diet affects acne here.)
Other studies have shown that certain foods can tame inflammation, which is a key factor in acne, rosacea, eczema, and psoriasis. (Read more about anti-inflammatory foods here.)
The list goes on. In fact, we’d go so far as to say that if you want beautiful skin and hair, you must pay attention to your diet as well as your skin care-or you’re only going halfway. Applying products on top of the skin won’t help much if the skin is missing out on nutrients and moisture from the inside, out.
With that in mind, we’ve gathered seven of the best beauty foods below. There are more, but we didn’t want to overwhelm you. Besides, these are some of the most powerful items you can add to your daily diet. Try them for a period of about 4-6 weeks and see if you don’t notice a difference in your appearance!
Add pumpkin, apricots, oranges, mangoes, butternut squash, red peppers, and other similarly colored veggies to this list, as they’re all full of healthy carotenoids. These nutrients not only help protect skin from free radical damage, but they actually give you a healthy glow.
According to a 2014 study, participants rated the so-called “carotenoid glow” present in people who consumed these foods as more attractive even than the sun-kissed glow of a natural tan.
“People who eat more fruit and vegetables have a ‘golden’ skin tone that looks healthy and attractive,” said lead researcher Dr. Ross Whitehead. “Our latest research finds that even small improvements in diet produces visible benefits to skin color. We were very surprised by how quick the changes were.”
2. Tomato Paste
If you suffer from age spots and other types of sun damage, this is the food for you.
Think tomato sauce, tomato soup, and Italian food.
Research shows that tomatoes-particularly cooked ones-have a lot of the antioxidant lycopene, and lycopene is known to be a natural SPF. A 2008 study, for example, found that participants who consumed tomato paste had 33 percent more protection against sunburn, compared to those who didn’t eat tomato paste.
Even better news-the participants didn’t have to gobble down unusual amounts of the stuff. “These weren’t huge amounts of tomato we were feeding the group,” said co-researcher Professor Lesley Rhodes. “It was the sort of quantity you would easily manage if you were eating a lot of tomato-based meals.”
Note-add some olive oil to help your body absorb more lycopene.
3. Buffalo Meat
If you struggle with acne, you may have a zinc deficiency.
In a late 1970s study, researchers found that patients with acne who were given an oral zinc supplement daily experienced about a 33 percent improvement in their acne over a period of 6 weeks. A more recent 2007 study also reported that participants with acne were typically lower on zinc than participants without acne. The researchers concluded that prescribing zinc to patients who were low on the nutrient could help improve their acne.
Red meat is the richest source of zinc-lean bison or buffalo provides a lower-fat option that still packs a powerful zinc punch. Keep serving sizes low for optimal health-about four ounces or the size of a deck of cards.
Other good sources of zinc include lentils, pumpkin seeds, kidney beans, and raw oysters.
These nuts are great for you for a number of reasons, but one of them is that they’re a good source of biotin, a B-complex vitamin.
This nutrient is super important for skin, hair, and nails. A deficiency can cause skin rash, because biotin is necessary for building healthy fats in the skin. Other research has shown that participants with brittle nails who were prescribed biotin saw a 25 percent increase in nail thickness.
A 2012 study also found that biotin supplements helped women with thinning hair to experiences significant hair growth.
Other good sources of biotin include tomatoes, eggs, carrots, and Swiss chard.
We’ve all heard that yogurt helps ease digestion, but the active ingredients-those healthy probiotics-may also help promote healthy skin.
Recent research has found that the gut, brain, and skin are much more connected than we may have believed. Stress, anxiety, and depression can contribute to changes in the gut flora-that delicate balance of bacteria that we all have in our intestines. Also called the microbiome, this flora boosts the immune system, eases digestion, and keeps us feeling good in a lot of ways-unless the balance is disrupted.
If the bad bacteria become too plentiful and the good bacteria lose their ground (such as what can happen during illness, stress, and when taking antibiotics), the health ramifications can be felt all over the body, and seen on the skin.
A 2008 study found, for example, that patients with rosacea had a 10-fold greater increase intestinal bacterial overgrowth compared to healthy controls. Other studies have found that probiotics can help improve acne, prevent and treat atopic dermatitis, and even protect the skin against photoaging.
Probiotics may even give you the “glow of health,” according to a 2014 study. Aged animal participants who were fed probiotics-supplemented yogurt had thicker, more lustrous fur than those who weren’t eating it.
Other good options include kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, and miso soup.
These provide a mega boost of omega-3 fatty acids (a type of essential fatty acid), which are super good for skin.
A deficiency in essential fatty acids in humans can manifest as dermatitis-that’s how important these are to skin health. Our bodies can’t make these fatty acids, so we have to get them from the diet.
Studies on omega-3 fatty acids and skin have shown that these nutrients reduce inflammation and help make the skin more resistant to sunburn and photodamage. A 2006 study found that omega-3s significantly reduced risk of changes in the skin that lead to skin cancer. A 2008 study also reported that omega-3s may help reduce the severity of acne.
Several studies have shown that those who reported higher intakes of these nutrients had a more youthful skin appearance, including less skin wrinkling.
Other good sources include fatty fish (salmon, tuna), walnuts, chia seeds, soybeans, seaweed (wakame), and fish oil supplements.
7. Dark Chocolate (At Least 70% Cacao)
Healthy dark chocolate is packed full of flavonoids that are known to help encourage skin health.
Seriously! Science has proven it.
Take this 2006 study. Researchers gave one group of women a high-flavonol cocoa powder dissolved in water for 12 weeks, and the other group of women a low-flavonol drink. They then studied their skin when exposed to UV rays. They found that those who had consumed the high-flavonol drink had increases in skin density and skin hydration, less water loss, and a decrease in skin roughness. The skin was also less sensitive to sun damage.
A later 2009 study found similar results, with those who consumed the high-flavonol chocolate experiencing increased protection from UV rays. And in 2015, researchers reported that a daily 7.5 gram bar of a special so-called “anti-aging” chocolate (formulated to contain 70 percent dark chocolate) increased blood supply to skin tissue, reduced inflammation levels, and changed the underlying condition of the skin to that of younger skin.
Just be aware that standard milk chocolate won’t do the trick. You need real dark chocolate with a high level of antioxidants-the stuff that doesn’t taste as sweet. Look for that telltale “70 percent” of cacao.
Bonus-chocolate helps release endorphins in the brain, making you feel good. And what looks more beautiful than a happy face?
Have you adjusted your diet to benefit your appearance? Please share your tips.
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