When it comes to keeping our skin as healthy as possible, most of us take an outside-in approach. We focus mostly on what we put on our skin, and pay little attention to how to eat for healthy skin. (There’s a reason the global skin-care industry is estimated to be worth $300 billion plus!)
However, our skin is an organ—our largest organ, in fact—and all of our lifestyle choices (including the food we eat and how much water we drink) impact it. Throughout my experience coaching clients towards greater health and wellness, I’ve seen firsthand how nourishing our skin can help it become more vibrant, elastic, and glowing.
That’s why I recommend taking an inside-out approach to maintaining healthy skin. Here are the must-have nutrients—and big-time no-no’s—I talk to my clients about most.
The first step in eating for a brighter complexion is cutting these two culprits from your diet.
Healthier skin is just one of many reasons to cut back on sugar.
Unfortunately, many Americans get almost half of their daily calories from refined sugars, flours, and oils. Though all three of these highly-processed foods have a harmful impact on the skin, sugar is the worst offender of all.
Sugar also makes collagen—the protein that gives skin its structure—less flexible, which exacerbates signs of skin aging.
Focus on cutting back on simple carbohydrates like refined sugar, white bread, and soda. (I recommend limiting added sugars to no more than 10 percent of your daily calories.) Instead, opt for fresh fruit when you need that kick of sweetness.
Cutting back on alcohol is my second greatest dietary recommendation for better skin.
Alcohol is a toxin. In addition to offering zero nutrient value, it works to reduce liver function, spur inflammation, and dry out and age skin.
Reduce your intake of alcohol to no more than one drink per day for women and two for men, and you’ll almost immediately notice better skin. When you do drink, opt for clear, unflavored, non-grain-based alcohols to limit the damage.
So, what can you eat now that I took your sugar and alcohol away? Plenty, don’t worry. I promise your skin (and overall health) will thank me for enjoying more of the following.
1. Dark Chocolate
Let’s start with a food that’ll ease the pain of losing alcohol and sugar: dark chocolate.
First of all, dark chocolate contains a ton of antioxidants, which can help fend off free radical damage that ages our skin. It also contains several essential vitamins (A, C, D), that nourish your skin from the inside out and help skin stay hydrated.
Just make sure that you are consuming a high-quality dark chocolate that is greater than 70-percent cocoa and minimally sweetened.
Enjoy up to an ounce serving per day!
2. Healthy Fats
Healthy fats—like fatty fish, nuts and seeds, and the ever-amazing avocado—are also great for your skin.
Many of these foods provide immune- and skin-boosting omega-3s, along with a slew of nutrients that also nourish skin.
Aim to consume about 30 to 40 percent of your calories from healthy fats.
3. Water, Water, Water
My absolute best diet advice for better skin: Drink more water than you can imagine.
Thanks, in part, to the fact that many of us get a lot of our fluids from coffee and other caffeinated beverages, most Americans walk around dehydrated. This causes dull, flaky, dry skin.
I recommend aiming for 100 ounces of water a day. It’s an easy-to-remember number—and drinking this much water will not just make a massive difference for your skin, but for your energy levels and metabolism, too.
Supplements That Support Healthy Skin
In addition to eating a skin-supporting diet, we can also incorporate a few smart supplements into our routine to help our skin look and feel its best.
No surprise here, supplementing with collagen—a crucial component of our skin and other connective tissues—can help our body maintain healthy skin.
You can get collagen in capsule or powder form—or by drinking bone broth. I keep it simple by supplementing with YouTheory’s Advanced Formula Collagen capsules.
2. Vitamins A & C
Additionally, for extra antioxidant support, I recommend vitamins A and C. On top of helping the body beat off free radical damage, vitamin A supports healthy cell turnover, while vitamin C promotes collagen production and helps keep skin hydrated. A good multivitamin—like the plnt brand Whole Food Women’s Multivitamin—can help you meet your A and C needs.
Liz Josefsberg is a weight loss and wellness expert with over 15 years in the industry, as well as a member of The Vitamin Shoppe’s Wellness Council. A mom, author, fitness enthusiast, and weight loss success story herself (65 pounds lost!), Liz consults all over the world. She loves testing every diet, exercise regimen, device, and piece of gear she can get her hands on.