And while scientific research is still limited as to the extent and specifics of the connection between food and skin health, the link is well established through anecdotal evidence and increasing numbers of interested dermatologists who believe that the secret to clear skin often lies in a mixture of the right medicine and diet.
Eat on the low end of the glycemic index
The dominant theory among scientists is that acne and skin problems could be a result of inflammation caused by a high sugar diet. Sugar is believed to be problematic for our skin because it increases blood levels of the hormone insulin and triggers the production of sebum, the oil responsible for clogging our pores. That’s why many dermatologists and dieticians advocate for a low-glycemic diet. Or, in other words, a diet rich in vegetables and low in processed, sugary foods.
Foods for healthy skin – Pay attention to your gut
A low-glycemic diet is one part of the picture but new research is also tapping into our gut health and its role in how we break down and process these sugars. The microbes in our gut, mostly residing in our colons, live off the fiber in the foods we digest. It’s estimated that we all have approximately 100 trillion of these bacteria in our colon and that they are responsible for how well our bodies break down and absorb the nutrients in our food. Their makeup can also be cultivated and changed by the way we eat. Evidence suggests that eating fermented foods containing probiotic strains such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium can promote so-called “good” bacteria in our gut that helps to ease our digestion. And when our digestion is working properly our body doesn’t need to eliminate toxins in other ways, including through our skin.
Read more about the fascinating connection between gut, brain, and skin and discover which foods can help you eat your way to a clearer face below.
Vegetables score low on the glycemic index and contain vital fiber and vitamins that we need for healthy skin. Kale, dark green leafy vegetables, red and yellow peppers, broccoli, sweet potatoes, and carrots are especially good for our skin. Howard Murad, MD, celebrity dermatologist explains that vitamin A present in dark green vegetables and orange produce evens our skin tone by helping regulate how our skin sheds dead cells.
Foods for healthy skin – Fruits:
While fruits often score higher on the glycemic index, they are also rich in vitamins and minerals that make our skin radiant. Most berries contain tons of vitamin A and C that help our skin fight UV aging. Vitamin C especially is a powerful antioxidant that prevents free radical damage. Other fruits like kiwi, oranges, grapes, and grapefruit also contain valuable doses of Vitamin C and other nutrients, and not to mention, make for a good morning snack as well.
While it may seem counterintuitive to some, certain fats can be essential ingredients for non-greasy, lustrous skin. Unsaturated and monounsaturated fats including omega-3 fatty acids that are found in many fish such as salmon and seeds such as chia and flax seeds, have anti-inflammatory properties and help rebuild skin cells, resulting in less skin dryness and irritation. Olive oil, walnuts, and avocado are other great sources of good fats that nourish our skin.
Foods for healthy skin – Fermented Foods:
As we mentioned above, fermented foods contain important probiotics that keep our gut microbes diverse and in prime condition to break down our foods and help our body unlock the nutrients it needs. Kombucha, yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, and raw cheese are all great ways to help your gut microbes thrive and improve your overall digestion and health.