Now that you have a good idea of the basic diet and lifestyle for maintaining healthy skin, there are some specific foods and choices that you can incorporate into your diet to help alleviate certain skin issues: aging, sun damage, acne, eczema, rosacea, and psoriasis.Sun exposure can do extensive damage to your skin and age you more quickly than anything. It delivers UVA rays, which penetrate deep into the skin causing discoloration, wrinkles, and skin cancer over time. It also delivers UVB rays, which can cause a painful burn that not only damages skin in the short term but has been linked to certain skin cancers.
Certainly you should wear a natural safe sunscreen (containing titanium dioxide and zinc oxide) on all exposed skin whenever you are outside or near a window (that includes in the car!). However, there are foods you can eat that will help protect you from the sun, as well.
To fight the signs of aging, eat the following fruits, which are naturally low in fructose and provide a powerful boost of antioxidants:
To lessen the appearance of wrinkles, especially those around the eyes, eat green and yellow vegetables, including peppers, squash, and green beans.
To undo the effects of sun damage and protect against future damage, eat:
- Eat lots of red produce: cooked tomatoes, red berries and red peppers
- Drink green tea
You can greatly reduce your acne by altering your diet. In part, this is because many of the foods that we eat as a matter of habit actually cause inflammation, which contributes to acne. If you wish to reduce your breakouts, therefore, it is important to reduce your consumption of foods that cause inflammation while increasing your consumption of foods that calm inflammation.
Furthermore, to the extent that some acne is brought on by stress, eating a healthful diet that nourishes your body will help you to avoid physical stress from malnutrition and your healthy body will help you to cope better with mental and emotionally stressful situations. In other words, a healthful diet can help to attack the problem of acne (and other inflammation-related skin issues such as rosacea, psoriasis, and eczema) from multiple sides.
To reduce your breakouts avoid the following:
- Refined sugars and flours
- Processed foods
- Foods high on the glycemic index
- Milk and dairy products
- High Fructose Corn syrup
- Sugary sodas, sports drinks and energy drinks
- Processed cold cuts meats (salami, sausages, ham, etc.). Instead, cut your own sandwich meat from roast turkey or roast chicken breast.
- Foods that are low on the glycemic index
- Zinc-rich foods (like pumpkin seeds and lentils)
- Omega 3 fatty acids
Foods containing omega 3 fatty acids are a natural anti-inflammatory that will help reduce your skin’s reactivity and decrease acne breakouts. Zinc is a natural anti-inflammatory, as well, and topical products containing zinc can be an excellent natural treatment for acne. Eating a diet that includes the daily recommended dose of zinc, vitamin B3, copper, and folic acid has been found to clear up acne problems.
By changing your diet in this way, you should see calmer skin and no new breakouts within ten days. By the time a month has passed, you should see smooth and clear skin with an absence of cysts.
Rosacea is a chronic condition that appears as a general redness in the central part of the face (nose and cheeks) that can include small red bumps, whiteheads, enlarged pores, thickened skin, and dilated capillary veins on nose, cheeks, and chin. People with rosacea tend to flush or blush easily. It is a very common disorder.
It is triggered by spicy foods, hot beverages, alcohol, hot showers and baths, and hot climates. Natural treatment involves avoiding triggers, eating anti-inflammatory foods, and some topical treatments.
If you have rosacea, do not consume or limit consumption of the following:
- Spicy foods such as salsa, hot sauce
- Natural flavoring
- Soy sauce
Particularly keep an eye out for MSG. It is best known for its use in Chinese food, but can be found in many common food items, including potato chips, barbecue sauce, prepared chicken stock, and salad dressing. Always read the labels!
Do eat probiotics, zinc, and omega 3 fatty acids.
Topical natural treatments for rosacea can also calm and clear skin, as well as reduce flare-ups. When looking for natural, topical treatments that will effectively combat your rosacea look for colloidal oatmeal which relieves skin irritation and itching.
Eczema is characterized by an itchy red rash that can become dry, cracked, and crusted. Skin is flaky and dehydrated, and signs of inflammation include red patches and itchy bumps. It often starts inside the elbows and backs of the knees, and then travels to the neck, chest, and back. However, it can appear anywhere on the body.
Flare-ups can be caused by stress, winter weather, and exposure to harsh detergents and soaps. To help avoid flare-ups through your diet, avoid or minimize consumption of eggs, particularly the yolk, and gluten.
Gluten is a protein found in grains such as wheat, barley, and rye, and it shows up in many foods, including:
- Ice cream
- Canned soup and gravy
On food labels, look out for “modified wheat starch,” as this indicates that the product contains gluten. Naturally gluten-free foods include corn, potatoes, rice, sweet potatoes, quinoa, and chickpeas.
Flare-ups can also be caused by the following foods:
- Baked goods
- Processed foods
Psoriasis is a chronic condition that produces patches of intensely red, inflamed skin covered by thick, scaly, or flaky blisters, bumps, or spots. It normally shows up on the outside of elbows and knees but can spread to the whole body, even your scalp. It is not contagious.
Psoriasis and eczema have somewhat similar symptoms, so if you are unsure which you have, it is best to check with your doctor.
If you have psoriasis, you can reduce the intensity and frequency of flare-ups by avoiding the following foods:
- Gluten, also called “modified wheat starch.” See the list of foods that often contain gluten in the section on eczema for more detail.
Do eat probiotics and fish with omega 3 fatty acids to help improve the overall health of your skin and avoid inflammation.