The skin care industry wants us to believe that topical treatments are the best way to achieve clear, younger looking skin. But the truth is, there’s no cream, gel or exfoliator equivalent that can do what a healthy diet does for your skin.
From a holistic perspective, any type of skin condition— such as acne, eczema or premature aging— is a sign of a deeper imbalance in the body. In particular, more research is emerging around the gut-skin access, which shows a direct link between compromised gut health and acne, eczema, and other inflammatory skin conditions.
Your Skin’s Role in Natural Body Detoxification
As the largest organ of elimination, your skin also acts as “backup” for your liver when it’s overburdened with toxins to eliminate. When toxins start being eliminated through your skin rather than you digestive system, they have the potential to manifest as rashes, pimples or blackheads.
Rather than getting rid of a blemish with a spot treatment cream, it’s much more effective to prevent and reduce the severity of breakouts in the long-term by adding foods that support your body’s natural detoxification processes to your diet.
With this in mind, the best foods for your skin are those that help improve your gut health, and contain vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that help support your organs of detoxification. Here are the top 7 foods to eat for clear, glowing skin.
7 Foods That Are Good For Your Skin
There’s definitely a pattern to this list: you’ll notice most of the following foods are high in fiber, which helps detox the body naturally by “sweeping” waste from the digestive tract. Fiber is also essential for promoting regular bowel movements, which is key for safely eliminating toxins that destroy your skin and gut health.
Despite having fiber in common, all of these foods have unique properties for boosting skin health. Let’s take a look at what those are, and the best way to regularly include these foods in your diet.
If you suffer from cystic acne or experience breakouts around hormonal changes, broccoli may be the superfood your skin’s been waiting for.
In addition to being rich in detoxifying fiber, broccoli contains a compound called Indole-3-Carbinol (I3C), which is found in many cruciferous veggies.
Indole-3-Carbinol has been shown to help correct hormonal imbalances that play a role in acne, such as excess estrogen. In fact, low progesterone or excess estrogen can lead to a condition called estrogen dominance, which can cause inflammation, and is commonly seen with cystic acne.
I3C “blocks” estrogen, and prevents excess estrogen from being produced in the body, leading to fewer hormonal breakouts and clearer skin. Hormonal imbalances commonly occur from taking oral contraceptives, but diets rich in processed foods, stress and genetics can also play a role.
How to Eat More Broccoli:
Broccoli doesn’t have to be a bland, boring side dish. You can add broccoli to your smoothies and fresh pressed juices, and swap regular sprouts for broccoli sprouts on salads. I personally recommend making a “skin supportive” soup with steamed broccoli, kale and cauliflower— all of which contain I3C— and blending with your favourite herbs and bone broth.
Eggs can benefit your skin in numerous ways with certain amino acids they contain, such as L-histidine. Histidine acts as an antioxidant and helps prevent free radical damage to the skin from toxins. Histidine may also provide UV protection, which is why it’s considered a helpful amino acid for preventing skin cell damage .
Although it’s rare for foods to actually contain collagen (most foods contain nutrients that help the body synthesize collagen), chicken egg yolks are one of the only other food sources aside from bone broth to contain it.
Just like dark leafy greens, cilantro can promote detoxification and benefit the skin because it contains chlorophyll. However, cilantro may support phase II liver detoxification, which is the phase where your liver is getting ready to eliminate toxins from your body. As mentioned above, liver support is crucial for preventing acne-causing toxins from being eliminated through your skin and causing breakouts.
How to Add Cilantro to Your Diet:
The strong taste of cilantro isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, so if you prefer not to include it in your recipes, you can always take cilantro in the form of nutritional supplements. Otherwise, load up cilantro in your guacamole, salads, soups and even smoothie and fresh pressed juice recipes.
Coconut oil is one of the “natural beauty” ingredients you can both apply topically to your skin, and eat to improve your skin’s appearance from the inside out.
Coconut oil contains a fatty acid called lauric acid, which has antibacterial properties that may prevent acne breakouts. Lauric acid is also a natural antifungal, which can help kill harmful pathogens in the digestive tract that destroy gut health, such as yeast .
When it come to using coconut oil on your skin, it makes a great body moisturizer and chemical-free eye makeup remover. If you have acne prone skin, you may want to avoid putting coconut oil on your face, as it has the tendency to clog pores.
How to Add Coconut Oil to Your Diet:
The better question here may be: how do you not add coconut oil to your diet? Aside from being a healthy cooking fat (which is safe to use on high temperatures), you can put coconut oil in your tea, coffee, smoothies, baking recipes, soups and homemade desserts. Personally, I’ll eat coconut oil on it’s own by the spoonful.
Olive oil is said to be one of the oldest natural remedies for improving skin health. In fact, I’ve heard of friend’s Italian grandmother’s who’ve sworn by dabbing olive oil onto their skin every night to prevent fine lines and wrinkles.
The monounsaturated fatty acids in olive oil have been shown to protect against free radical damage (a major cause of premature aging), and studies have further shown protective benefits against sun damage with an increased dietary intake of monounsaturated fats .
How to Eat More Olive Oil:
The delicate healthy fats in olive oil are sensitive to high temperatures, so the best way to ensure you absorb them is by adding them to lukewarm or cooler dishes, such as salads or homemade salad dressings. You can cook with olive oil, but always be sure to keep the heat on low.
Pumpkin is rich in beta-carotene, which is the precursor to vitamin A, or retinol. Many OTC topical skin creams use derivatives of vitamin A (such as retinoids) to help stimulate new skin cell production, eliminate acne and fade dark acne scars. As you can guess, eating food sources of beta-carotene will provide these same benefits, but in a more powerful way by healing from the inside out.
Beta carotene is the pigment that gives orange and red plant foods their colors, so yellow and orange peppers, squash, yams and carrots provide benefits for the skin, too.
How to Add More Pumpkin to Your Diet
Don’t count on Starbucks pumpkin spice lattes for providing beta carotene. Instead, add pumpkin to your homemade stews, soups and chilis. Pumpkin also makes a delicious protein smoothie when combined with vanilla protein powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla extract and almond milk.
Celery is an amazing skin food because of its high fiber and high water content. Now, we’ve mentioned that moisture is key for keeping skin looking plump and youthful, which is why staying hydrated is one of the best ways to improve the appearance of your skin. Aside from drinking your water, you can also hydrate from eating high water content veggies, too.
In addition to fiber, celery also contains a gut and skin supportive nutrient called lutein, which is said to be protective against colon cancer .
How to Eat More Celery:
Natural remedies for acne recommend drinking celery juice first thing in the morning to clear up skin. You can try blending celery with water and a splash of lemon as a homemade clear skin tonic, or add celery to your green smoothies for an extra boost of fiber. If you get the craving for something crunchy, celery also makes a great snack when topped with organic cashew or almond butter.