Who doesn’t want more beautiful skin? Your skin is your biggest and most visible organ. When irritated, breaking out or inflamed, our skin is trying to tell us something. More often than not these are signs of an internal imbalance or inflammation.
If you struggle with a skin condition like acne, psoriasis, eczema, rosacea, excessive dryness or simply want more radiant skin, this article is for you.
Skin issues are near and dear to me. I’ve personally struggled with both eczema and acne. Before being introduced to naturopathic medicine, the conventional treatments offered to me were birth control pills and steroid creams. Sure, they suppressed the symptoms in the short term. But I couldn’t help but wonder what was causing the issues in the first place. The good news is, skin problems are curable with nutrition and naturopathic medicine.
The first place to start is nourishing your skin from the inside out. Having a good skincare routine is absolutely helpful. But for truly healthy skin, you need to go beyond skin deep with a diet full of skin nourishing foods.
Here are a few of my favorite foods for radiant skin...
This delicious fruit is loaded with skin nourishing Pantothenic acid (vitamin B 5). This incredible B vitamin has been shown to decrease breakouts, improve wound healing (1), and increase the antioxidant glutathione (which aids detoxification and protects you from free radicals). They’re also a great source of fiber, healthy fats, and other nutrients like vitamin C, E, A.
I recommend at least three avocados a week. They are delicious in salads, with eggs, in smoothies, with Mexican food, or by themselves as a snack with some lemon, salt and pepper.
Wild salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel, anchovies
These fatty fish are rich in the essential fatty acids, omega-3’s. Omega-3’s decrease inflammation in the body. That’s great for your skin because eczema, psoriasis and acne are all inflammatory conditions.
Aim to have a palm size serving at least three times per week. Avoid farm fish unless it’s organic, wild seafood is best. You may have also noticed the fish I listed above are all small fish. That's because small fish have less heavy metals and toxins accumulated in their bodies.
Bone broth is rich with collagen and glycosaminoglycans (GAGs). These nutrients provide our dermis (the layer in your skin just below the surface) with structure. The dermis is responsible for providing nutrition to the epidermis (the outermost layer of skin). One study found that collagen consumption improved skin elasticity and moisture (2).
Bone broth has a ton of other health benefits you can read about in my article here.
Aim for a cup per day. I love using bone broth as a base for soups, but it also nice to sip.
Liver cleansing culinary herbs: turmeric, cilantro, ginger, parsley, garlic, onions
Your liver processes hormones and eliminates toxins from your body. A significant portion of adult acne is from hormone imbalance. Additionally, proper detoxification is necessary to reduce inflammation. Add these spices into your cooking daily.
Antioxidant-rich foods (colorful vegetables and fruits)
Antioxidant rich foods are critical to a healthy diet. They prevent damage to our cells from oxidation which protects our skin from UV radiation that can cause premature aging and skin cancer. Antioxidants also keep our microbiome happy.
Eating the rainbow is essential. Incorporate vegetables and fruits in a variety of colors. A good rule of thumb is the more vibrant and colorful, the more antioxidants. Think blueberries, dark leafy greens, purple cabbage, etc. Incorporate these foods with any and every meal.
When it comes to antioxidants, don’t forget about green tea. It's most well known for containing the antioxidants EGCG (read more here). It’s great for all skin conditions; however it is especially beneficial for patients with PCOS and acne. Have a cup a day.
Oysters are one of the best dietary sources of zinc. Zinc is a mineral that is anti-inflammatory, assists in wound healing, and protects against UV radiation.
This study found zinc to be a useful treatment for moderate to severe acne (3). Zinc is also important for hormone regulation, hence why they are rumored to increase libido (4).
Inflammatory foods to avoid
Sugar: avoid added sugar and sweetener
Fruit juices and dried fruit because of their high fructose (fruit sugar) content
White starchy foods like bread, pasta, potatoes, rice
Dairy: read more about this in my article about dairy
Industrial seed oils: canola, soybean, corn, peanut, safflower, sunflower, cottonseed oil and other "vegetable" oils
If you’re curious about specific nutrient levels, lab testing can help identify nutrient deficiencies and further guide you to which foods you should be eating. Ask your naturopathic doctor or functional medicine doctor to test you for nutrient deficiencies.