It’s easy to believe that a glowing complexion is hidden in the bottom of a cream, lotion or potion. Many days I wish it was true, but in reality a truly clear and bright complexion is acquired from what you put into your body and not what you put onto your body.
It can be helpful to remind ourselves that our skin is a living organ, just as our heart and lungs are living organs. Our skin, as with all other of our organs, is comprised of thousands of individual cells — it’s the health of these individual cells that determine the health of that greater system. Contrary to popular belief, our cells do not run on fancy drugstore serums but rather thrive when fed a diet rich in nutrient-dense foods. Don’t get me wrong: I am a huge fan of skin products. Think of these products as the cherry on top of a nutrient-dense sundae — it is the nutrients that do the heavy lifting and provide your skin with a lifelong glow while the serums, potions and lotions might help refine that glow.
So lets get specific! Here are the top six guidelines to eating a nutrient-dense diet that will support your skins best and brightest complexion!
1. Eat the Rainbow
“Eat the Rainbow” may sound like a silly PBS slogan, but it’s backed by an incredible amount of science. All fruits and vegetables get their color from chemicals known as phytonutrients. There are thousands of different phytonutrients that all provide varying benefits to the health of our skin including providing bright and even skin tone — that includes brightening the skin beneath our eyes (hello, dark circles!).
It can be tempting to travel down the rabbit hole of trying to research or even memorize what each and every fruit and vegetable provides for your skin — trust me I’ve done it — but a better option is to just eat a variety! Each day, aim to eat a variety of different colored fruits and vegetables, not only choosing different colors but also choosing different types of produce within that color family, and you will be sure to get the full spectrum of beautiful skin loving goodness!
TIP: Adding in one fresh juice a day to your existing routine is a great way to promote a colorful diet and a glowing complexion!
2. Have Healthy Fats
Quite possibly my favorite skin-loving category of food, healthy fat works as an internal moisturizer providing that much desired dewy and youthful glow. Healthy fats are integral to the structure and hydration of our skin cells as they are key in building the external barriers that protect each and every cell of our skin. These healthy fats also help our body to absorb fat-soluble nutrients A, D, E and K that can be found in all those colorful fruits and vegetables.
Notable foods rich in skin loving healthy fats include avocados, olive and coconut oil, nuts and seeds including chia and flax seeds, walnuts and almonds, sunflower and pumpkin seeds among many others, fatty fish such as sardines and wild salmon and even egg yolks. A little goes a long way, but don’t shy away from adding one of these healthy fat superstars to each meal — your hair, nails and skin will thank you!
3. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that water makes the cut as a skin loving nutrient. Dehydration causes many symptoms and dull, dry, flat skin is one of them! A good rule of thumb is to consume half your body weight in ounces of water each day. If you are very active add an additional 16-32 ounces on top of that especially if you are in a hot climate or hot room.
Find water boring? Try these tips:
- Add lemon. Add in some freshly squeezed lemon to increase flavor and add a punch of vitamin C to promote your skins production of collagen for that youthful taut tone.
- Sip on herbal tea. Herbal teas are also a great way to promote hydration with an added dose of goodies. Varieties such as green tea, white tea, peppermint, dandelion and calendula teas provide an additional antioxidant boost that help increase blood flow and reduce inflammation for a fresh, vibrant glow.
4. Have Fresh Herbs and Spices
Herbs and spices can be overlooked for their incredible beauty boosting power. Remember our “Eat the Rainbow” conversation from above — well, the same rules apply! Herbs and spices are packed with colorful phytonutrient compounds that promote our skins internal health and external glow.
Try out the beauty boosting properties of turmeric, cinnamon, black pepper, basil, cilantro, parsley…the list goes on. Herbs and spices are amazing ways to add flavor and depth to meals, so go forth and season generously. It helps to know that you are not only adding flavor but also complimenting your already good looks too!
5. Reduce Refined Sugar, Flour and Processed Foods
The list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning some of our skins greatest culprits: high sugar, refined flours and processed foods. These ingredients are devoid of nutrients and can actually contribute to our skins lackluster appearance. For some of us that might be due to eating too many of these beauty zapping foods and not enough beauty boosting foods. The good news, there is always a happy balance.
6. Welcome in the 80/20 Rule
You may have heard this rule discussed in relation to juicing, where the aim is to have a greater proportion of veggies to fruits in order to reduce the sugar content of the juice. It’s a great rule to follow, but I also believe this rule can be applied in general to many areas of life beyond juicing, such as the health of our body and glow of our skin!
When making decisions around what to eat, 80 percent of the time you should aim to choose foods that are nutrient-dense such as the foods listed above and in general most foods that grow from the ground. The other 20 percent of the time, choose foods that make you happy — now that might be more nutrient-dense foods; however, this also creates the opportunity for you to have that special treat without unnecessary guilt. Balance is beautiful.
The best longterm beauty boosting dollars you can spend aren’t at the drugstore or spa but rather can be found in your very own pantry or refrigerator…well, that’s true at least 80 percent of the time.