Got a love-hate relationship with your skin? It’s okay, that’s pretty normal. We believe nutrition plays a big role in maintaining skin health and keeping your skin vibrant and beautiful. It starts from within. It’s an internal thing. Skin is the largest organ with many functions including regulating body temperature, protection from external environment, as well as wound healing. You may be at high risk for wrinkles, dryness, acne, or dehydrated skin if you smoke, drink too much alcohol, have a poor diet or you are stressed, just to name a few. Genetics play a huge role in skin health too. No worries though, we have some basic nutrition tips that may help you maintain that glow.

Eat your colors

Are you making half your plate fruit and vegetables? If not, it’s time for change! If you consume a wide variety of fruits and vegetables on a regular basis, chances are your body is being fueled with lots of these cool substances called antioxidants. Antioxidants protect the skin by fighting against free radicals (the bad guys) that can damage the skin. So here’s the deal, certain colors of foods indicate that there is an abundance of specific nutrients. For example, green fruits and vegetables such as asparagus, spinach, and kale are high in vitamins K, B and E. Red, orange and yellow fruits and vegetables (like tomatoes, carrots, and yellow peppers) are abundant in vitamins C, and A. We could go on, but we just want to give you a few reasons why you should boost your fruit and vegetable intake.

Are you eating protein foods?

Protein is found in eggs, soy, nuts, some plants, and more. Protein helps repair cells that have suffered free radical damage. During the digestion process, protein breaks down into amino acids, the building blocks of the cells in the food, which help to speed the repair and regeneration of skin cells and collagen. Everyone has different protein needs and if you are a vegan or vegetarian, make sure you are aware of plant based protein foods. If you aren’t consuming enough protein, you are depriving your skin of the amino acids that go into making collagen and elastic tissue which makes your skin strong and supple. Your protein needs depend on your age, sex, and level of physical activity. A general recommended amount for a healthy woman is about 5-6 ounces of protein per day such as lean meat, chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, and nuts. Again, this will vary depending on other health conditions if you have any, activity level, age, and more. Consult with a Dietitian for specific protein needs, if needed.

Limit your simple sugar intake

Research shows that consuming high amounts of sugar can lead to obesity and chronic conditions like heart disease and even diabetes. But did you know that it can also have an effect on our skin? Let’s break this down. When you consume sugar or high glycemic foods like candy, cookies and cake, your body breaks down these carbohydrates into glucose, which raises your insulin (Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that allows your body to use sugar from carbohydrates in the food that you or to store glucose for future use) level. Simple carbohydrates like refined sugar (soda, white bread, candy) causes insulin spikes, which causes an inflammation in the body and can break down the collagen in your skin and create skin problems.

The kind of sugars to consume:

Shoot for complex carbohydrates. These are usually low glycemic foods, like whole grains, beans, vegetables, nuts and high fiber foods which delay sugar absorption and help control blood sugar levels.

Got healthy fats?

Believe it or not, consuming a diet that incorporates healthy fats like salmon, sardines, walnuts and avocados can help to maintain healthy and supple skin. Fat is one of the main components of our skin and high intakes of omega 3 fatty acids may help protect against UV radiation and sunburn. Consuming a diet with healthy fats doesn’t only have benefits for your skin, it also helps protect you from heart disease. Choose cooking oils like extra virgin olive oil, canola and corn oil. These oils are a game changer for maintaining healthy skin. Visit the American Heart Association for more information on healthy oils.

Drink more water

There’s nothing better than drinking just plain old H2O. If you are not staying hydrated throughout the day, your skin can lose elasticity and become dry, making your skin vulnerable to germs. Research suggests that proper hydration improves the health of your skin by keeping the surface moisturized. Consuming fruits and vegetables like watermelon, tomatoes, and cucumbers adds to your water intake, especially because of the high water content. Everyone has individual water needs depending on age, sex, health conditions and more. Pay attention to your urine color if you don’t already. This helps to show how hydrated you are. The lighter the color, the more hydrated you are.

So basically, eating frequent balanced meals throughout the day and staying hydrated may help you to maintain healthy skin. Research is still evolving in the area of skin and nutrition, but it is important to remember that other aspects of life, such as environmental factors and genetics can affect our skin health as well. Good nutrition may assist in keeping your skin beautiful, but good nutrition alone cannot cure skin problems. Consult a dermatologist to maintain optimal skin health.