Skin food: What to eat for healthier skin

It’s been said that you are what you eat, and when it comes to skin care there’s truth to that: some foods provide our bodies with the kinds of nutrients that help nourish and protect our skin while others can make it harder for our skin to do its job. The good news is that giving your skin the right stuff can be pretty simple—no need to throw out your pantry. Here are a few tips on what to eat for healthier, happier skin:

Skin-friendly foods

Dark chocolate

We know what you’re thinking . . . eating chocolate for your skin is too good to be true. But two ounces of dark chocolate (70% cocoa or higher) each day can be great for your skin. That’s because dark chocolate is packed with powerful antioxidants such as polyphenols and flavonoids; more, in fact, than most of our favorite fruits, including blueberries and açaí. These organic compounds target the excess free radicals that can build up in our body and cause damage to our cells.1 Just remember to look for a dark chocolate with less added sugar—in the neighborhood of 3 grams is good—and, as always, moderation is best.

Walnuts

Omega fatty acids are fats that are are helpful for our bodies and our skin. There are 11 in total, and 2 of those (omega-3 and omega-6) are considered essential fatty acids because the body cannot make them on its own. That means we must get them from foods like walnuts, flaxseeds, and fatty (dark meat) fish.2

Omega-3s are essential to our bodies because they form an integral part of cell membranes and help to strengthen our skin cells. That means our skin is better equipped to retain moisture and resist photo-damage and photo-aging. Omega 3s have also been found to help reduce inflammation and signs of skin sensitivity.3 That’s good news if you’re acne prone as less inflammation can mean fewer breakouts. The best part? A fistful of these powerhouse nuts easily provides our recommended daily allowance.

Foods to avoid

Sugar

If you’re looking for clues on what to eat for healthier skin it’s also important to know what to avoid.

By now we all know that refined sugar is bad for our health, but did you also know it’s bad for your skin? Studies have shown that consuming excess sugar leads to a spike in insulin levels, which can stimulate activity of the androgen hormone.4 That can encourage oil production and inflammation, which—you guessed it—can lead to acne.

So, for your skin’s sake, avoid processed sugars and instead reach for a healthy fruit or natural sweetener like yacon syrup, which has a minimal impact on blood sugar.

Dairy

We know that hormones can impact our skin—ladies, those spots that crop up around that time of month are anecdotal proof. But what we eat can affect our hormones too and the best example of this is dairy.

Studies have shown that people with acne have higher levels of the IGF-1 hormone. That’s significant because cow’s milk and dairy products contain casein and whey protein, which can raise certain hormone levels in our bodies like IGF-1. Raising these hormones can overly stimulate our body’s production of its natural oils, further clogging our pores. As a result, a link has been established between the consumption of any dairy, such as milk, yogurt, and cheese and increased levels of acne.5

The good news is that there are lots of non-dairy alternatives. So when the dairy need arises, try reaching for almond milk and take note of how your skin reacts.

Give your skin the good stuff

Now that you know some simple tips on what to eat for healthier skin, you’re on your way to improving your skin from the inside. But don’t forget to give your skin some love from the outside in.

At Kura Skin, our mission is to take the guesswork out of your skincare by pairing you with the best clean skincare for your needs and budget. It’s simple: head to kuraskin.com, create your skin profile, and we’ll take care of the rest.

And for more tips on how to give your skin the love it deserves see our posts on how to defend your skin against signs of aging, how to build a skincare routine, and how to navigate good and bad alcohols in skincare products.


  1. Fraga C. Plant polyphenols: how to translate their in vitro antioxidant actions to in vivo conditions. [PubMed]
  2. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: An Essential Contribution. [Harvard School of Public Health]
  3. Essential Fatty Acids and Skin Health [Oregon State University]
  4. Implications for the Role of Diet in Acne [PubMed]
  5. Dairy Intake and Acne Vulgaris: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of 78,529 Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults. [PubMed]
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