How Your Diet is Affecting Your Skin

how diet affects skin

Here on Makeup.com we spend a lot of time talking skin. From vitamins that can benefit your complexion, to the best anti-aging regimens, to surprising facts you might not know, there are few skin topics left untouched on our watch.  But while we could rattle off our favorite skincare products in our sleep, and tell you how to exfoliate those hard to reach places without batting an eye (skills, we tell ya), one concept we’ve only scratched the surface on is how our diet affects our skin. We’d like to think that a diet of coffee, cupcakes and wine doesn’t affect our lovely complexion in the slightest, but unfortunately, this delusional idea was quickly squashed in our conversation with Dr. Adam Friedman, Assistant Professor of Medicine (Dermatology) and Director of Dermatologic Research at Montefiore – Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Here’s his expert take on how your nutrition is affecting your complexion.

1.    You Are What You Drink

“While there is little evidence to support the age old theory that drinking the token 8 -11 glasses of water a day will prevent or treat the signs of aging, not drinking enough water, or drinking things that dehydrate us such as alcohol or caffeinated drinks will definitely result in a mottled glow. When skin is dehydrated, its turgor (ability to return to normal when stretched) is decreased, which is what happens naturally as we age,” Friedman says.

So what should you sip if plain water just doesn’t do it for you? “An ideal beverage would be one rich in antioxidants without the burden of fruit derived or artificial sugars (as seen in many sports drinks). Green tea is one such drink. Its polyphenols have anti-inflammatory properties, it’s protective to the cell membrane, and it may even help prevent or reduce the risk of skin cancer,” Friedman says.

“Drinking too much of certain beverages can also do more harm than good. Milk, an excellent source of calcium, vitamin D, and other nutrients, in excess can cause unwanted pimples. Milk and other dairy products contain growth factors and hormones (regardless of organic status) that can increase oil production and cause pore blockage when in excess. Drinks high in sugar such as soda can also cause the skin to grow over and block pores as well as stimulate oil production, also potentially increasing acne breakouts. In terms of wrinkles, drinking sugary beverages increase the production of advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs), which damage collagen and elastin over time resulting in accelerated skin aging,” Friedman says.

 2.    You Are What You Eat

“Though easier said than done, a balanced diet is far more important in keeping wrinkles at bay than overindulging in glasses of water. Vitamins A, B, C and E, contained in a range of fruits and vegetables, help keep the skin elastic, protect it from age-related damage and help with the growth of new skin.

Foods also rich in antioxidants such as blueberries, strawberries, plums, artichokes, beans, prunes, and pecans, can help the body fight off free radicals which damage the membrane of skin cells, potentially allowing damage to the DNA of that cell. The antioxidants and other phytochemicals in these fruits can help protect the cells from damage and disintegration, guarding against premature aging. In this respect, these fruits may very well help keep your skin younger looking longer,” Friedman says.

MDC Tip: Not sure what free-radicals are? Check out this Dermatologist Dictionary.

Essential fatty acids are integral for maintaining healthy cell membranes, which is not only what act as barriers to harmful things but also as the passageway for nutrients to cross in and out and for waste products to get in and out of the cell. Because it is the cell membrane that also holds water in, the stronger that barrier is the better your cells can hold moisture. And that means plumper, younger looking skin.

The best-known essential fatty acids are omega 3 and omega 6, which must be in balance for good health (and good skin). Though we all seem to get enough omega 6, many people lack omega 3s. Fish, walnut, and flax seed oil are among the best sources. Salmon, walnuts, canola oil, and flax seed all offer essential fatty acids, and therefore are also key foods for healthy skin,” Friedman suggests.

The state of our skin just may be enough to stave off sugar cravings, so goodbye diet soda and cookies, hello green tea and blueberries!

Would you alter your diet for the health of your skin? Fill us in below friends!

Photo: Veer