What Foods Are Healthy & What Are Damaging for Your Skin?

a close-up picture of two hands which are holding an apple in one hand and bitten donut in another
Photo: Andres Ayrton

It isn't new that you must eat good food to look great and be healthy. The beauty and health of your skin are strongly dependent on the quality of the food you regularly consume. Fresh vegetables and fruits, various nuts, and some fish will be beneficial for your complexion, while junkie food plays the main antagonist of your skin's health. So, I invite you to dive deeper into the world of nutrients and superfoods.

What should I eat for good skin?

A well-balanced diet that includes a healthy amount of calories and nutrients is considered to be the best for the overall health of the body and skin. At least, it is what most healthcare professionals and medical dieticians claim to confer health benefits. Here is what a healthy diet for glowing skin should include, according to the WHO (World Health Organization):

  • Fresh Fruits & Vegetables:

Fruits and fresh veggies contain most of the vitamins, microelements, and fibers for healthy skin. That's why they should be a key part of your daily diet. Generally recommended to consume at least 400 g. of vegetables and fruits per day, excluding starchy roots (potatoes, turnips, parsnips). They include vitamin A, also known as beta-carotene, vitamins C and E, and folic acid, which reduces levels of homocysteine. Fruits and veggies also include magnesium and zinc.

a close-up picture of a cut in half fruits laying on a silk
Photo: Sunsetoned

Why is vitamin A good for the skin? 

  • Vitamin A normalizes the function of the cells;
  • Normalizes oil production in the skin, improving its condition;
  • Assists in collagen production;
  • Reduces skin pigmentation by normalizing tyrosinase.

You can find Vitamin A in carrots, mangoes, papayas, and leafy vegetables, such as spinach, and maize.

Why is vitamin C beneficial for the skin?

  • It is a potent antioxidant, so it protects skin from free radicals damage;
  • Reduces pigmentation by inhibiting melanin production;
  • It also reduces fine lines and wrinkles.

The best sources of Vitamin C are red peppers, spinach, broccoli, strawberries, and citrus fruits.

a picture of three wooden spoons filled with different grains
Photo: Roman Odintsov
  • Nuts, Oils & Unprocessed Grains

Whole grains, healthy oils, and nuts are rich in mono- and polyunsaturated fats, zinc, selenium, antioxidants, and other advantageous elements. Unlike refined carbohydrates contained in white flour, popcorn, and rice cakes, unprocessed grains can improve your skin complexion by combating inflammation and skin damage. And nuts like almonds are filled with antioxidants, which, as you already know, combats skin-aging free radicals.

Are healthy fats good for your skin?

Particular fatty acids like Omega-3 and Omega-6 play the role of building blocks for our body and skin. They also help our bodies to absorb other nutritional elements like vitamins A and D.

  • Omega-3 keeps the skin elastic and thick and moisturized;
  • It reduces inflammatory processes, improving acne and skin irritations;
  • Fatty acids make the skin less sensitive;
  • Omega-6 helps stimulate skin and hair growth;
  • They also help to regulate the activity of skin oil glands.

Healthy fatty acids can be found in seafood, walnuts, soy, algae, vegetable oils, and avocado dark chocolate.

a close-up picture of a cake with a fork in it
Photo: Polina Tankilevitch

What foods are bad for your skin?


While some types of food are good for the skin, other types of food might contribute to several skin and health conditions. When choosing your diet, it is best to avoid certain foods that aren't good neither for the skin nor for your health in general. Here are foods, that ruin the beauty of your skin:

  • Sugar, sugar-sweetened drinks;
  • Natural sweeteners like honey, syrups, and agave;
  • Paste, white flour, refined grains, pastries (refined carbs);
  • Salty snacks;
  • Fatty meat, butter, cream, cheese (unhealthy fats);
  • Caffeine;
  • Alcohol.

Is sugar harmful to the skin?

The short answer is yes. Consuming a lot of sugar can be harmful to the skin. However, most people are unaware of the negative effects of sugar on health in general, and skin in particular. Sweet food and refined carbohydrates instantly absorb into the blood and facilitate insulin production. And high levels of insulin aren't good for those who struggle with acne

Hormone insulin activates another hormone — androgen, which accelerates skin cell growth and boosts sebum production. A well-balanced diet, which includes low-glycemic food and doesn't raise sugar levels in the blood, may reduce inflammation and the appearance of acne.

How do "Bad" Fats Affect the Skin?

Saturated and trans fats are considered to be bad for the skin. These enemies of good health increase the risks of various heart diseases and inflammations (redness, acne, eczema.) Doctor Doug DiOrio states that foods that contain processed flours and trans-fats cause inflammation in the body, making the skin more vulnerable to damage.

a close up picture of three caffeinated drinks on a table
Photo: Nathan Dumlao

Why are Caffeine and Alcohol Bad for the Skin?

Most people know the feeling of thirst after a noisy party the night before. We experience a similar feeling after a shot of a potent caffeinated drink. It is all because caffeine and alcohol dehydrate our bodies and skin. Alcohol is a known diuretic — a substance that increases the production of urine.

Dehydration is the main reason for skin sagging and premature aging. Thirsty skin appears less thick and youthful, it loses its natural glow and elasticity. The loss of moisture leads to regeneration difficulties, making it harder for the cells to grow and develop properly. Therefore, it is best to avoid overconsumption of alcohol and caffeinated drinks.

The Takeaway

We are what we eat, and so is our skin. The food we love and want may not be what your skin needs at this moment. It will be beneficial for you and your skin to find a healthy compromise, which will make a dramatic difference in the appearance of the skin. Try incorporating healthy foods for skin and other healthy skincare habits slowly, but surely. In a short period, you and your skin will experience the first positive changes, and you will not want to go back to fast food and pastries.

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