“You are what you eat.”, as the saying goes.
When it comes to your skin, that advice couldn’t be truer. Our skin is our body’s largest organ, and like our hearts, brains, eyes, etc., we need the right blend of nutrients to help it stay healthy and function properly.
Your skin relies on your diet to get the right micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) to maintain your radiant, youthful glow. While we don’t require them in nearly the same amount as macronutrients like proteins, healthy fats, and carbohydrates, they’re still necessary for everything from cell repair and collagen production to protection against UV damage.
A Spectrum of Skin-Nourishing Produce
Now that we’ve covered why your skin needs a variety of fresh produce, let’s talk about each of the colors and what benefits they provide:
Reds for Radiant Skin
Red fruits and vegetables, including tomatoes, strawberries, red bell peppers, and cherries, get their stunning scarlet shades because they are rich in two antioxidants: lycopene and anthocyanins, which combat free radicals that cause many of the signs of aging like fine lines and uneven tone.
- Lycopene-rich tomatoes and red bell peppers prevent oxidative damage and offer some protection against UV rays.
- Strawberries and cherries are ripe with anthocyanins and vitamin C, which our skin’s fibroblasts need to create the protein collagen to keep our skin firm and more wrinkle-resistant.
Oranges & Yellows for Skin Repair
The vibrant orange and yellow hues in carrots, sweet potatoes, oranges, and lemons come from beta-carotene, which converts into vitamin A, or retinol. That’s right! Eating beta-carotene-rich veggies is a natural way to accelerate cell turnover for smooth, soft skin.
And that’s not the only anti-aging effect that these bright foods can provide. The boost of vitamin C in citrus fruits also contributes to your skin’s radiance and helps reduce hyperpigmentation.
- Carrots are particularly rich in the vitamin A precursor beta-carotene.
- Earthy sweet potatoes contain beta-carotene and vitamins A, C, and E, making them one of the best sources of anti-aging actives.
- Oranges’ vitamin C works with the flavonoids in this refreshing fruit to brighten your complexion and reduce hyperpigmentation.
- Lemons boast an abundance of AHA citric acid and vitamin C.
Greens for a Youthful Glow and Overall Health
Head for the greens– kale, avocado, spinach, broccoli, and cucumbers— if you want a little of everything from your veggies. Depending on what you choose, you’ll get a variety of nutrients:
- Kale is loaded with vitamins A, C, and K, which help reduce skin inflammation and promote overall skin health.
- Avocado is high in healthy fats to increase elasticity and moisture retention.
- Spinach contains omega-3 fatty acids to soothe inflammation. It’s also an excellent way for mommies-to-be to get the folic acid their little ones need for healthy development.
- Broccoli boasts vitamins C, E, and fiber, all of which help you maintain a clean, clear complexion.
- Cucumbers are 96% water, which makes eating them an excellent way to ensure your skin’s getting the hydration it needs to maintain its moisture barrier.
Blues and Purples for Antioxidant Protection
The same anthocyanins that give reds their color are even more abundant in blueberries, purple grapes, plums, blackberries, and eggplants, resulting in deep blue and purple shades.
- If you’ve ever heard blueberries referred to as “superfoods,” now you know why! It’s one of the plant kingdom’s best sources of antioxidant anthocyanins.
- Purple grapes contain a familiar skincare active, resveratrol, a favorite ingredient in anti-aging products, thanks to its ability to improve skin tone and elasticity.
- Plums are an excellent source of vitamin C, a catalyst for collagen production.
- Blackberries provide a juicy burst of fiber and vitamin K to keep your skin plump and supple.
Whites and Browns for Skin Strength
While not what we typically think of when we picture a rainbow, white and brown produce, including garlic, mushrooms, and nuts, have much to offer our skin’s health.
- Garlic is rich in allicin, an antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory that can help keep acne at bay. It’s also an excellent ingredient to eat more of if you have sensitive skin or conditions like rosacea.
- Mushrooms are packed to the gills with selenium to maintain skin elasticity and prevent oxidative damage.
- For macro- and micronutrients, snack on your favorite nuts. Almonds and walnuts, in particular, are rich in fats and zinc. The fats help your skin retain moisture, while zinc is acne’s worst enemy. This mineral is an anti-inflammatory, aids in wound healing so you’re less likely to scar after a breakout, and keeps oil production under control.
Easy Ways to Add Some Color to Your Diet
Not sure where to start with your new approach to skin-loving foods? Here are a few tips to make your skincare routine more delicious:
Start with Breakfast
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so use it to kickstart your skincare routine in new, delicious ways. Do you prefer a sweet start to your morning? Add berries or sliced banana to your oatmeal, or blend your favorite fruits into a smoothie. If you’re feeling extra healthy, toss in a few handfuls of spinach for an extra dose of nutrients. For folks who prefer savory options, you can’t go wrong with an omelet. Prepare your favorite veggies like spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, or bell peppers the night before to make it easier to practice your gourmet chef skills in the morning.
Cut up colorful fruits and veggies and store them in reusable containers for easy, on-the-go snacking. Carrot sticks, cucumber slices, nuts, and apple wedges are great for a quick bite that benefits your skin.
Spice Up Your Salads
Tired of the same old salads? Try something new by using a greens mix of kale, spinach, endive, or whatever else you have in season where you live. Then, top it off with peppers, tomatoes, carrots, oranges, or strawberries. The more color, the better!
Makeover Your Main Dishes
Next time you plan a grocery trip, get creative with your main courses. A delicious way to eat more veggies is with a stir-fry with a mix of vegetables, or if you’re in the mood for something more indulgent, top your pizza with bell peppers, onions, and olives.
Don’t Skip Dessert!
Fruit-based desserts are a guilt-free way to end your meal with something sweet and skin-loving. Experiment with fruit salads, berry parfaits, homemade sorbets, and baked stone fruits to find your new favorite treat.
We’ll leave you with a bit of food for thought–pun intended: While we love our skincare products, and they provide undeniable benefits to help us meet our skincare goals, another secret to youthful, radiant, healthy skin is in your kitchen. By filling your plate with a rainbow of fruits and veggies, you’re giving your skin the deep nourishment it craves, and building a solid foundation that only helps your favorite creams, cleansers, serums, and toners work even better!
At AST and ADCI, we’re passionate about helping our clients build a skincare routine that nourishes from the inside and out. Give us a call, and let’s set up an appointment to help you discover the right blend of natural nutrients and dermatologist-approved products and treatments that will work together to reveal the age-defying skin within.