How many of us have ever had a skin issue, rushed off to the drugstore and hoped to find a miracle in a bottle that didn’t cost an arm and a leg (hypothetically speaking, but sometimes they can cost quite the hard-earned dollar!)? I bet we’ve all been there and at some point, we’ve all had skin issues that we know have made us desperate to find a solution. If you’ve ever had acne, struggled with discoloration, wrinkles, dry skin, or other skin conditions you know they can be quite disheartening to deal with.
While it might sound superficial to some, our skin health is actually quite important and much more than about appearance. Our skin reflects what is going on internally in our bodies, whether that’s how healthy our diet is, our stress levels, possible toxicity, hormonal imbalances, or more serious health problems. Food allergies often start out as skin abrasions, breakouts, rashes, and even eczema. And while we’re quite comfortable with aging, premature wrinkles and fine lines can actually set in early due to a high sugar and diet high in processed foods. Acne is often a correlation between what we eat and our hormone health—as you can see, our skin health tells a story. What do we want ours to say about our health?
Food is the best medicine you can use to take care of your body—which includes your skin, the largest organ you have. It’s not to be ignored or brushed off. Many foods you can eat daily contribute to great skin; whole foods are a fantastic place to start and don’t have to be expensive.
If you need to pull out the “big guns” though, try using these five foods below. They’re quite the (delicious) weapon at creating a more beautiful, healthy you from the inside out!
Pumpkin is one of the most incredible foods for your skin at such a low cost and is so easy to use! Don’t just use this food in the fall and winter; that would be a shame! Pumpkin can be added to a smoothie in place of bananas for a super low sugar, low-carb, nutrient-dense and belly friendly creaminess. Lower sugar foods enhance the skin because blood sugar spikes mean insulin spikes, which triggers acne and breakouts, not to mention nasty sweets addictions. Plus, pumpkin contains 4 grams of fiber per serving to keep you full and is very easy to digest. Using pumpkin each day is a great way to get in your vitamin A in a small serving. Vitamin A is nature’s best acne medication—eat it daily and you’ll see results in no time.
The chemical treatment Accutane is actually a synthetic form of vitamin A but it can come with some scary side effects. All orange vegetables and greens are much better sources of the nutrient naturally in the form of beta-carotene that the body easily converts into vitamin A. Pumpkin’s high iron content also ensures that your red blood cells work at optimal levels to give you that glow you’re looking for. When pumpkin isn’t in season, buy the kind in containers on the shelf that come in BPA-free packages if you want to avoid canned options, or choose an organic brand that’s BPA-free (there are plenty!). Try using 1/2 cup in this delicious Pumpkin Protein Smoothie, or just add it into your favorite smoothie!
2. Camu Camu
This superfood is one of the best natural acne and wrinkle fighters you can use. Containing over 1000 percent of the vitamin C you need each day in just 1 teaspoon, it’s the highest source on Earth! It’s also free of sugar and is a very potent tart berry sold as a powder here in the United States. Though it originates from Brazil, it’s sold through many organic and non-GMO, sustainable companies here that you can buy and keep in your kitchen. Vitamin C fights wrinkles, acne, and internal inflammation; it’s also one of the best to reduce anxiety, pain in the muscles and joints after a workout, and will also help keep your immune system thriving.
You’ll notice your skin is clearer all within a few days of using camu camu powder. Since it’s very tart and has no sugar, use it as a sprinkling on top of your smoothies, oatmeal, or other recipes since stirring it in may cause an off flavor. Always chose fair-trade, raw, organic, and/or non-GMO to be sure you’re obtaining the best kind; it’s typically sold cheaper online, though you can find it in some health food stores (but it costs much more). Remember, you only need a teaspoon a day!
3. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are another wonderful source of beta-carotene that converts to vitamin A in the body. They’re also lower on the glycemic index than white potatoes, so they’re friendly to your blood sugar and won’t cause insulin ups and downs. They also contain trytophan, a calming amino acid that reduces stress which your skin benefits from as a result. Trytophan helps produce serotonin in the body which makes you feel good, also raising good hormones that benefit your skin. Stress equals acne, dry skin, wrinkles, and more. The more “good mood” foods you eat, the happier your skin will be too!
Sweet potatoes are also a surprising source of vitamin C and potassium. Potassium lowers your blood pressure which also reduces stress, and as you know, vitamin C is a potent anti-stress nutrient too. See some healthy ways to stuff your sweet potatoes and skip the butter and dairy cream that breaks you out. You can also check out other ways to use sweet potatoes and all of our recipes while you’re at it!
Spinach is truly a phenomenal green leaf, and not just because you can sneak it in a smoothie without tasting it (though that makes it pretty awesome, not gonna lie!). It’s a food that promotes lean muscle mass, keeps you full, powers your muscles, gives you energy, and yes, it makes your skin glow too! A top source of chlorophyll, spinach is a fantastic option if you’re tired of, or don’t really like, kale.
Spinach is also higher in vitamin E than any other green, which is a powerful antioxidant that softens the skin, fights inflammation, and promotes a healthy level of moistness in the skin. Dry skin can actually lead to acne, wrinkles, and clogged pores that creates blackheads. Including vitamin E rich foods in your routine promotes clear skin without much else work, and is a much better option than vitamin E supplements often derived from oil or GMO soybeans.
5. Almonds (or Avocados)
Almonds and avocados are two powerful sources of healthy fats, B vitamins, and vitamin E for the skin. They lubricate the cells which reduces inflammation and aids in collagen production in the body; they also produce healthy hair and nails as a bonus. Almonds contain the added benefits of zinc, biotin, and a higher dose of amino acids which also improves the look over your skin—much more than anti-acne medications and anti-wrinkle creams will.
Zinc fights acne by balancing how the body uses carbohydrates which reduces blood sugar spikes that lead to acne and declination of the cells which promotes wrinkles. Biotin strengthens the overall skin texture and appearance, and amino acids help keep the skin strong and supple. Avocados also contain the benefits of chlorophyll, another potent natural acne weapon found in all green foods. Choose these fats in place of dairy fats. For some tips on how to do this, see How Almonds Help Support the Body When You Go Dairy-Free and How to Use Avocados to Replace Dairy in All Your Creamy Dishes.
Skip the store-bought stuff and try eating your way to beauty. It’s not only less expensive, but an easy way to stay full, healthy, and have clear skin in one easy step. See more foods for great skin and let us know what your favorites are too!
We also highly recommend downloading our Food Monster App, which is available for both Android and iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 8,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to ten new recipes per day. Check it out!
Lead image source: Jonathan Pincas/Flickr