- According to a doctor, healthy and vibrant skin starts with good nutrition.
- Individual nutritional needs vary, but many people could benefit from more magnesium, zinc, and fiber.
- Reducing added sugar and processed foods can help reduce inflammation for a healthier appearance.
Don’t rely on expensive lotions for a glowing, youthful appearance — eating the right nutrients for your unique needs can help your skin look its best, according to a doctor.
“We spend so much time, energy and money smearing our face in hopes of getting nutrients to the skin, but it’s the blood flow that delivers the essential nutrients,” said Dr. Mark Tager, author of “Feed Your Skin Right”. : Your personalized nutrition plan for radiant beauty,” Insider said.
He said it was difficult to provide a one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition because individual needs vary based on factors such as age, genetics, lifestyle, medications, etc.
“There is no other person on the planet with skin exactly like yours. There are recommendations that experts will give you that are general but some have to be specific,” he said. “It’s a dance of multiple nutrients in the body coming together.”
However, a few basic principles and food groups can help you find the ideal diet for healthy skin, hair and nails.
Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables
According to Tager, one of the easiest ways to start eating for healthier skin is to incorporate more fresh produce into your diet, which provides a wealth of vitamins and minerals you may be lacking.
For example, citrus fruits and other fruits are full of vitamin C, which is essential for cell healing and protection.
Dark leafy greens are rich in iron, folate, vitamin C, magnesium and more. Together, they can help maintain healthy levels of compounds like collagen that provide structure and elasticity to skin, Tager said.
“Vitamin C, along with iron, is needed in good amounts to create collagen,” Tager said. “One of the problems with vitamin C is that it is easily oxidized and rendered ineffective, so the emphasis should be on ‘fresh’.”
Fruits and vegetables are also high in fiber, a nutrient that feeds beneficial bacteria in the human digestive system that produce compounds that help protect skin, Tager said.
Magnesium-rich foods like beans and cereals help prevent dryness
Tager said that even if you’re not medically deficient in certain nutrients, you might not be getting the optimal amount.
Many people don’t get enough magnesium, a mineral essential for more than 300 chemical reactions in the body, Tager said.
Eating more whole grains and legumes can provide magnesium for better cell repair and maintenance to protect skin against dryness and damage.
“One of the things you want for a vibrant appearance is a healthy skin barrier,” Tager says.
Although you can get more magnesium and other nutrients through supplements, focusing on whole foods may be a more effective approach for overall health, according to Tager.
“There’s no way to supplement a crap diet, so it all has to start with nutrition,” he said.
Seafood and nuts are good sources of zinc for clearer skin
Tager said another common compound missing from a typical diet is zinc, a mineral that helps reduce inflammation in conditions like acne.
Fish like sardines, herring and anchovies, and nuts like cashews and almonds are high in zinc.
Seafood, nuts, and seeds can also be good sources of healthy fats called omega 3s, which help keep your skin healthy.
Minimize processed foods and sugary drinks
One of the worst food groups for healthy skin is also something most of us eat daily, according to Tager.
“The biggest culprit we have is processed foods,” he said.
The combination of added sugars, unhealthy fats and other preservatives in many processed foods can hasten the development of fine lines in the skin and worsen inflammation, he said.
“Skin inflammation is often reflected in the breakdown of structural elements that keep skin healthy and beautiful,” Tager said.
Sodas and other sugary drinks can be particularly harmful because they’re high in added sugar and can replace plain water, making it harder to stay hydrated, Tager says.
He said it can be difficult, time-consuming and expensive to eat more nutritious whole foods, but taking small steps can make a big difference in how you look and feel over time.
“It’s easy to supplement, but it’s hard to cut back on sugar and reduce your addiction to processed foods,” Tager says. “We’re all going to eat processed foods at some point, so it’s really a balance and a minimization.”
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