There’s no full-proof diet for better skin, but Debra Breneman MD, a dermatologist at Group Health, says adding certain foods to your plate certainly can’t hurt. “Theoretically, just eating a good, healthy diet is going to be good, pretty much across the board,” she explains.
#1: Prevent Aging with Fruits and Vegetables Rich in Antioxidants
When it comes to skin health, antioxidants are critical in protecting the skin from free radicals, which break down the skin and lead to premature aging. “Antioxidants can help quench free radicals, and protect the collagen, the elastin and the hyaluronic acid, and, theoretically, help prevent aging in the skin,” Dr. Breneman explains.
What to eat: Foods that are high in antioxidants are green, leafy vegetables, like spinach, broccoli, cabbage and brussel sprouts. Fruits high in antioxidants are strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and cranberries.
#2: Keep Skin Hydrated with Fatty Acids and Healthy Fats
There’s a myth that drinking large amounts of water keeps the skin hydrated, but Dr. Breneman says, unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. “Drinking water doesn't directly translate into hydrated skin. Moisture is held in the skin by certain lipids or fats.”
What to eat: Eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like fish, nut oils, flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, canola oil, soybeans and walnuts is helpful in preventing dry skin. Adding omega-6 fatty acids, which are found in corn and safflower oil, may be helpful as well.
#3: Eat Lower Glycemic Index Foods for Clearer Skin
While Dr. Breneman warns there is not a significant amount of research to support this theory, she says some studies show that eating foods with a higher glycemic index leads to an increased production of sebum, which contributes to inflammation and acne.
What to eat: Foods with a low glycemic index include soybeans, lentils and dried beans, milk and yogurt, nuts and seeds, bran cereals and oatmeal, and vegetables. Fruits with a low glycemic index include peaches, apples, grapefruit and pears.
#4: Avoid Processed Foods for Bright Skin
Certain research shows that eating a diet high in processed foods, like soft drinks, candy bars, white bread, chips and pretzels, may leading to dull, aging skin.
What to eat: Aim for natural foods, like fruits, vegetables, nuts and beans, instead of foods that come from a package.