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Healthy skin

What to eat and drink for healthy skin

It’s been proven that certain foods can increase brain function, reduce risk of serious diseases like cancer and boost immunity. But can your diet improve your complexion? There isn’t a lot of substantial scientific research linking diet to the skin's appearance, but there is anecdotal evidence and it seems logical that diet would impact the entire body, including skin.

“A few studies have found eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables can improve skin tone and help with complexion,” says Melissa Babcock, M.D., a dermatologist at Piedmont.

While more research is needed, reducing overall inflammation in the body may improve skin’s appearance – and it will also help reduce your risk of chronic disease. 

What to eat for a healthy body and complexion

Try these inflammation-fighting superstars:

  • Green tea. “One of the best antioxidants is green tea polyphenols. There have been scientific studies demonstrating the decrease in wrinkling and sun damage when it is applied to the skin. One study showed a decrease in the formation of skin cancers in mice that were pretreated with green tea polyphenols topically.” Look for skincare products containing green tea. While the jury is still out on whether drinking tea improves skin, research has proven tea’s numerous other health benefits
  • Salmon and tuna for omega-3s
  • Beans and lentils for meatless, low-fat sources of protein
  • Tomatoes, watermelon, grapefruit, asparagus and red cabbage for lycopene
  • Whole grains, which as oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice and whole wheat pasta, for B vitamins

Dermatologists agree that food affects everyone’s skin differently, so if you notice a certain type of food – such as dairy or sweets – seems to negatively impact your skin, it’s best to avoid those ingredients when possible.

Avoid these things for clear, smooth skin

  • Smoking. “Cigarette smoking can harm the texture and look of skin,” says Dr. Babcock.
  • Sugar. Too much of the white stuff increases inflammation, which can lead to an aging appearance in the skin.
  • Trans fat. This dangerous form of fat – found in fried foods, baked goods, margarine and more – increases inflammation, raises bad cholesterol levels and lowers good cholesterol levels.
  • Processed carbohydrates, like white bread, pizza crust and pasta, can damage the skin’s collagen, which can lead to wrinkles.
  • Alcohol. Women should limit alcohol consumption to one beverage a day and men should limit themselves to two glasses.

Need to make an appointment with a Piedmont physician? Save time, book online.


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