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The best foods for healthy skin (and what to avoid)

Jessica Sepel

4 minute read
Woman eating breakfast in kitchen next to a healthy variety of fruit and vegetables on the counter

When it comes to good skin, here’s the bottom line: it’s what you put on the inside that shows on the outside. Your skin is your body’s largest organ, so it’s important to nurture it from a holistic point of view. Luckily, there are plenty of nutrition tips to put your skin in good stead.

Here are my top tips for healthy, glowing skin:

- Eat real food

This means fresh, seasonal whole foods and dark, leafy greens with every meal. For the best results, eliminate processed, packaged and sugar-laden foods.

- Up your protein intake

Our skin and hair cells need amino acids to repair and regenerate, so eat up! Many vegetarians and vegans suffer from skin issues due to a lack of protein; if you’re one of them, try to up your intake of protein-packed meat-free alternatives such as non-GMO tofu, tempeh, legumes, nuts and seeds.

- Enjoy antioxidant-rich foods

This includes berries, citrus fruits, tomatoes, greens, nuts and seeds. These foods work to protect and nourish your skin’s cells.

- Enjoy low-GI foods

Think whole grains, veggies, berries, animal protein, beans, eggs, nuts and seeds. By keeping your blood sugar levels stable, these foods help to improve skin health.

- Up your seafood intake

Fish contains zinc, omega-3s and selenium, which are important for skin health, so try to eat oily fish at least twice a week.

- Consume more zinc

You can find zinc in seafood, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds and legumes. It’s excellent for acne and anti-ageing.

- Up your essential fatty acids

Opt for salmon, avocado, nuts, flaxseed oil, seeds, olive oil, coconut oil and tahini. Include one source of good fat in every meal. This honey-soy salmon recipe is full of healthy fats and nutrients.

- Increase vitamin C consumption

This is present in citrus fruits, capsicum, strawberries and greens.

- Get more fibre

Opt for legumes, veggies, chia seeds, psyllium husk, oats and flaxseed. Fibre supports digestion and hormonal health, and promotes clear skin.

- Stay hydrated

Each day, aim to drink two litres of water. This can be aided by enjoying some herbal tea and putting two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar into your water bottle to sip throughout the day.

An infographic explaining what to eat and what to avoid for healthy skin

For healthy skin, reduce your intake of the following foods:

- Processed and packaged foods

If the packaged food you're eating has a long list of ingredients, throw it out. Here’s a guide to interpreting a food nutrition label that could come in handy.

- Dairy

Cut it out for two to four weeks and see if you notice a difference. Some skin conditions, like acne and eczema, are often signs of a dairy intolerance. If you can’t give up dairy, swap to organic versions and limit yourself to two serves each day.

- Gluten

This is the culprit of many skin issues, so eliminate it for a trial period of two to four weeks and note any changes.

- Alcohol

Alcohol can have a big impact on our overall health. It clogs the skin and impacts blood sugar levels, stress and digestion – all of which are directly linked to your skin. Save alcohol for the weekends, and drink plenty of water.

- Refined sugar and artificial sweeteners

Both have a huge impact on skin health. Sugar can damage collagen, dull your skin and even increase wrinkles.

- Trans fats and hydrogenated vegetable oil

They’re found in virtually all processed, packaged, fried and baked foods as well as margarine. These bad fats are incredibly hard for the body to break down.

- Too much red meat

This can affect digestion, and one of the signs of a sluggish digestive system is spotty or dull skin. Stick to two serves each week.

- Too much caffeine

Stop at one cup of coffee a day (preferably before 10am) for hormonal health.

- Soft drinks

They can have an inflammatory effect on the body, which may impact your skin’s texture and oil content.

- Table salt

Switch to Himalayan salt and you should notice a difference, especially if you have puffy eyes.

Check out more articles by Jess, including the delicious and healthy recipes she’s created exclusively for nib.

Founder of JSHealth, author of two best-selling books and accredited nutritionist, Jessica Sepel is passionate about taking a balanced approach when it comes to food. Jess believes we need to give up ‘diets’ to overhaul our relationship with food and advocates for moderation, mindfulness at meals and healthy body image.

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