Can we talk about food for skin for a moment?
I know we’re all skincare obsessed here. Decoding skincare labels and finding gems on the beauty aisles is what makes our hearts flutter.
But even the best skincare products won’t help your skin that much if you sabotage them with an unhealthy diet.
Truth bomb: you (and your skin) are what you eat.
So eat healthy. Here are 5 food rules to follow for clear, glowy skin:
1. Eat The Rainbow
You know how I always keep banging on about getting as many antioxidants as possible in your skincare? Same goes for your diet too.
Antioxidants are your skin’s BFF. The patrol your body (and skin) looking for free radicals, the criminals that damage your collagen, elastin and everything else they find in their tracks, leaving a trail of wrinkles and dark spots behind. When they spot one, they destroy it pronto.
Here’s where it gets tricky: there are lots of different types of free radicals. Every antioxidant can only deal with one or two. You see now why it’s so important to eat as many antioxidants as possible instead than relying on just the one, no matter how powerful it is?
You’ll find antioxidants in green and brightly coloured vegetables (usually, it’s the antioxidants that give them their colour), berries, fruits, legumes, seeds and green tea.
Related: What The Heck Are Antioxidants And How Do They Keep Your Skin Young?
2. Cut Down The Sugar
Why oh why must everything that tastes good be bad for your skin?!
Ok, a bit melodramatic here (can you tell I have a sweet tooth?). Berries are delicious and they’re good for skin. But, as a rule, too much sugar (and that includes natural sugar like honey and fruits) does more harm than good.
Sugar causes glycation, a bad word that describes how sugar reacts with fats and proteins in an abnormal way. In a nutshell, when they come together, they produce something called “advanced glycation endproducts” (or AGEs for short – oh, the irony!).
Here’s how glycation makes you age faster:
- It destroys collagen and elastin, the proteins that keep your skin firm and elastic
- It causes dark spots
- It triggers chronic inflammation, which in turn forms wrinkles
Sodas, sweets and anything with processed sugar are the biggest culprits here. I still eat them a little because girl needs cake every once in a while (seriously what is life without cake?!) but the more you manage to cut sugar down, the slower you’ll age.
Grains (did you know they turn to sugar in the bloodstream?), natural sweeteners like honey and agave nectar and fruits high in sugar like banana and mango cause glycation too. But, they also have their fair share of antioxidants so they’re not as bad as processed sugar.
If you eat too much of those, you may want to cut back a little. In moderation, they’re cool.
3. Eat Raw
No, I’m not suggesting you turn into a rabbit. You don’t have to eat only raw stuff (phew!). Just eat a bit more than you do now.
Remember them? They’re the unwanted “present” sugar leaves behind in your body. High-heat cooking methods like broiling, frying or roasting make AGEs too. 🙁
Some of the worst offenders are:
- Roasted chicken skin (9,897 AGEs)
- Breaded & fried chicken breast (8,750 AGEs)
- Beef steak pan fried with olive oil (9.502 AGEs)
- Bacon fried with no oil (11,905 AGEs)
- McDonalds Big Mac (7,801 AGEs)
Lesson learned: meat and frying don’t go well together. Not if you want to keep your skin young anyway. 🙁
FIY, there are ways to eat meat without making so many AGEs. You just have to replace broiling/frying/roasting with low-heat cooking methods like steaming and poaching. For example, a poached chicken breast has only 968 AGEs. That’s a huge difference!
Fruits, vegeatables and all the raw stuff barely have any AGEs. Make them a big part of your diet, use low-heat cooking methods whenever possible and, every now and then, enjoy a fried treat for being a good girl.
P.S. It’s all about moderation, not deprivation. 🙂
4. Stay Hydrated
Let’s be clear: there’s NO scientific proof that drinking 2 litres of water a day hydrates your skin. That’s a myth.
Drinking water isn’t a treatment for dry skin either. You get dry skin when your skin’s protective barrier is damaged. Any water you put into your skin just evaporates through its cracks. Bottom line: if you want to treat dry skin, fix your protective barrier (check this article to find out how).
The kernel of truth in all this nonsense? A couple of small recent studies show that if you’re not drinking enough water already, upping your water intake will give you softer and smoother skin.
FYI: many vegetables and fruits are loaded with water. They count towards your daily water intake too.
If you’re eating your rainbow and drinking water or green tea regularly throughout the day, you don’t have to change anything. But if you’re partial to sodas and fast food, drinking more water or eating more water-rich foods can make a difference.
Related: Can 8 Glasses Of Water A Day Hydrate Skin?
5. Eat Fermented Foods
We’re only just starting to understand the role our gut bacteria play in our body. Hint: it’s a huge one.
A balanced microbiome (i.e. the community of bacteria that lives in your gut) regulates metabolism, boosts digestion, supports the immune system and brain function and even improves your mood.
In skincare, this translates to brighter skin, fewer pimples. Research here is only at the beginning but the first studies show that a healthy microbiome can reduce both acne and eczema.
Problem is, few of us have a healthy microbiome. A diet poor in fibres and antioxidants, too much alcohol and antibiotics can all kill the good bacteria in your gut and make the bad bacteria thrive.
That’s where fermented foods come in. They’re loaded with probiotics, the good kind of bacteria that can restore the balance in your gut. If you have acne, eczema or sensitive skin, they are a MUST.
So where do you find them? Some of the most popular fermented foods are sauerkraut, kimchee, kefir, kombucha and pickles.
Take your pick.
The Bottom Line
Good skincare starts from your diet. Follow these 5 food rules as much as you possibly can and you’ll see your skin become clearer and glower.
What food rules do you follow for beautiful skin? Share them in the comments below.