I often get asked about how to get healthy skin, and not just because of the work that I do with Beautycounter. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how expensive or ‘good’ your skincare products are, if you aren’t eating well and maintaining good health, it’s going to show up in your skin. People have long known that certain foods can have an impact on acne (as a teenager, do you remember your mom saying to stop eating chocolate to avoid a zit?), or that other things like poor liver health can lead to yellow or dull skin.
That’s not to say that if you have acne, psoriasis, or other skin issues then you’re unhealthy. But, if you do have issues with your skin then it’s worth looking at the foods you’re eating and how they may impact your complexion.
Why is it important to nutritionally support your skin?
Our skin is our bodies’ largest organ and first line of defense when it comes to the outside world. When your skin is inflamed and irritated, it’s a sign that your first line of defense isn’t as strong as it can and should be. Cracks and other openings on the skins surface leaves you vulnerable to infections that can easily turn in to something larger and more severe in the body.
And also, people are vain. I believe that all people on some level, do care about the way they look. On that same note, people also totally suck at times and are completely judgmental, especially when it comes to our appearances. Having healthy skin can definitely help with confidence as you encounter this world full of judgmental trolls on a daily basis. ☺
The role that hormones play in skin health
Eating out of balance can cause hormonal issues that can result in acne, rashes, and discoloration and dullness. Especially if you’re seeing that your skin is oilier than usual resulting in breakouts, or if you’re experiencing acne breakouts along your jawline or around your mouth, that’s a sign that things are imbalanced hormonally and you need to evaluate what could be causing that. I’ve seen vegans who seemingly eat very healthy diets develop acne issues because of an over consumption of carbohydrates that stimulate an insulin response because they haven’t balanced the carbohydrates with enough protein or fat to keep that hormonal (insulin) response level.
The role that your gut plays in skin health
I’ve written about the importance of gut health before as it’s THE foundation for health in everyone, and the same is true for skin health. When your gut flora (bacteria) are imbalanced, leaky gut can occur which can lead to skin issues (in addition to chronic illness and inflammation in the body). Things like psoriasis and eczema are directly tied to gut health and high inflammation in the body. Additionally, some foods like dairy can cause people skin issues, in addition to other food sensitivities to wheat and eggs (just to name a few). Eating for optimal gut health will also be beneficial for your skin. This means that you’re consuming lots of nutrient dense foods (like vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, and clean meat), and avoiding refined foods like vegetable oils, alcohol, refined sugars and grains, and sugary drinks that create inflammation in your body.
So, what should you eat?
Like the title of this blog states, taste the rainbow. And to be perfectly honest, that’s often the easiest way to achieve overall health, not just healthy skin. Eating a colorful, whole-foods based diet truly is the best thing you can do for your overall health.
Colorful foods, because they’re high in antioxidants like Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and beta-carotene. Antioxidants fight free radicals that can damage collagen and decrease skin elasticity.
Omega-3 fatty acids. Help keep cellular membranes strong and intact, and reduce inflammation.
Foods high in zinc and magnesium. Zinc helps regulate the production of oil in the skin and promote wound healing, so it makes sense that those who suffer from acne often also have low levels of zinc in their diet. Magnesium helps to stabilize hormone levels and improves cellular processes.
DRINK WATER. Like, real H2O. Not fruit flavored or carbonated, plain real water. It’s truly the easiest thing you can do to support your skin and overall health. It helps keep you hydrated to support strong cells and collagen production, it also helps to keep things moving throughout your body and support detoxification. It always amazes me at how resistant people can be when it comes to eating real food and drinking water (IT LITERALLY HAS ZERO FLAVOR), but, the good thing is that you’re an adult and you can do hard things, so get on it and you’ll get your gold star.
Eat clean and still struggle? Learn how to manage stress
Lastly, there will be some people who read this who have issues with their skin and will say ‘but I already eat a clean diet and I still struggle with my skin’. That’s where I ask you about your stress levels and how you manage that. My parents split up just before my 16th birthday, and as you can imagine it was a very hard and stressful time. Just before that I had been diagnosed with severe acid reflux syndrome (which is something commonly found in stressed out adults over 40), I also developed really painful cystic acne. It was all over my face, all over my chest and back. Besides the fact that I was a already hormonal teenager and definitely wasn’t a healthy eater, I do believe that stress 100% caused that acne to occur. When things calmed down in my life, my cystic acne went away. What am I getting at? Stress SIGNIFICANTLY impacts your hormones, and your body isn’t able to differentiate between the sources of that stress/inflammation (similarly to how it doesn’t tell the difference between sugar- sugar is sugar and results in a blood sugar spike and resulting insulin and cortisol response)… Whether the source of stress is from inflammatory foods, work, family/relationships, finances… it doesn’t matter, your body will respond the same way. So if you’re finding that even after you’ve cleaned up your diet that you’re still struggling with skin issues, I ask that you evaluate what’s going on in your current situation and if maybe, just maybe, a stressful situation is causing that. And then from there I ask that you consider various (healthy) ways to manage that stress like removing yourself from the situation (if you can), finding a new hobby or distraction that brings you joy, meditation, exercise, etc.
Have you struggled with acne or other skin issues? If so, what have you done to improve the situation?