Fruits that help clear skin include some of the most common fruits like oranges, cantaloupe and papaya. But there may be some fruits that you aren’t familiar with on this list. How does currant figure in when it comes to clearing up your skin? Is pomegranate better for regards to improving your complexion. This article will show you how to treat your blemished skin while also improving your overall well being.
10 Foods Scientifically Proven to Clear Up Your Skin
The idea that beauty starts on the inside has some truth to it. Your skin will reveal poor eating habits. You must start with what you’re putting into your body if you want a clear, glowing skin, lustrous hair, and strong nails.
Despite the fact that there are many ways to eat healthfully, some foods will undoubtedly improve your appearance. More and more individuals are looking into the connection between what we eat and how it affects how we look. As a result, focus has shifted away from quick fixes and toward longer-term plans that emphasize making changes from within. Hence, if you want a makeover, start with a diet makeover. We’ve compiled the top foods to eat to support smoother skin so you can get a head start on the first phase of skincare.
Keep reading to see the 10 foods scientifically proven to clear up your skin, as well as the reasons for their beautifying effects.
- Whitney Bowe, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist and author. She specializes in skin rejuvenation, laser dermatology, and the link between nutrition and skincare.
- Rachel Maiman, MD, is a board-certified cosmetic and general dermatologist at Marmur Medical.
- Lauren Minchen, MPH, RDN, CDN, is a registered dietitian nutritionist and the founder of Lauren Minchen Nutrition.
- Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, CDN, is the founder and director of Real Nutrition.
“Unfortunately, eating the incorrect kinds of foods and not getting enough probiotics in your diet both slow down digestion and change the sort of bacteria in your gut,” explains Dr. Whitney Bowe. “An irritated gut equals an inflamed skin, is how I always simplify it. The first step in mending your skin is to heal your gut.” Bowe advises choosing kombucha, sauerkraut, anything pickled, yogurt with live active cultures, kefir, and miso to increase the amount of probiotics in your diet.
Prebiotics are another approach to maintain a healthy gut, which in turn supports clear, healthy skin. According to Bowe, “it’s almost like fertilizer for your good bugs or your good bacteria.” “Asparagus, leeks, dandelion greens, and garlic are excellent food sources for prebiotic fiber. They aid in nourishing the beneficial flora and reestablishing a much healthier balance in your gut microbiota.”
Low-Glycemic Index Foods
High-glycemic diets, according to Bowe, have been associated with inflammation and acne in particular. These foods include refined carbs, white spaghetti, white bread, pretzels, bagels, and cookies—any form of refined, processed food. According to randomized controlled trials, if you replace some of those high glycemic index foods with low glycemic index foods, such as low-glycemic index protein sources like chicken, pasteurized eggs, vegetables, quinoa, steel-cut oatmeal, sweet potatoes, and brown rice, you can actually clear up acne.
Non-dairy milk options might not actively work to clear up your skin, but switching from dairy milk to an alternative option could make all the difference in your acne breakouts. Although Bowe says there are studies linking skim milk and dairy milk with acne (likely due to the whey and casein found in dairy), she adds that you don’t have to give up dairy completely in the name of clear skin.
“The studies show that there’s an association between milk and ice cream and acne, but there’s not an association with yogurt and cheese with acne,” she explains. “We think that’s because of the prebiotic benefit that’s found in the cheese and yogurt, so that sort of negates the negative effects of the dairy.” In other words, stick with the yogurt, but pass on the skim milk.
Blueberries, blackberries, and cranberries—not to mention the all-powerful goji berry—are high in antioxidants and packed with nutrients. Antioxidants are anti-inflammatories that aid the body to heal itself while also protecting against further free-radical damage—doing wonders for your skin.1 “Berries are rich in antioxidants, including vitamin A and vitamin C,” Dr. Maiman says. “Ellagic acid, however, appears to be the antioxidant prevalent in this food group that is also responsible for some of its skin-related benefits,” Dr. Maiman says.
“Leafy greens like spinach, kale, collard greens, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts pack a powerhouse of antioxidants and vitamins that provide a multitude of skin benefits,” Dr. Maiman says. They provide the body with vitamin A, which works against dry, flaky skin; vitamin C, which undoes the sun’s damage to collagen and elastin; and vitamin E, which helps fight against inflammation. Furthermore, leafy greens contain folate, a nutrient necessary for DNA repair.
Turmeric does wonders for soothing inflammation and has also been shown to improve your immune system and support proper brain function. Consume it with warm water to balance your skin’s natural flora and protect your skin cells against free radicals.
Egg cream is a popular Korean beauty product for a reason. The yolk of an egg contains vitamin A, which aids in skin restoration while also nourishing and soothing the skin.
Brazil nuts contain selenium, another potent antioxidant that aids in shielding the skin from free radicals. Moreover, research have indicated that selenium can aid in skin clearing, lowering acne and breakout risks.
“Citrus fruits are a naturally rich source of vitamin C, a potent antioxidant that speeds cellular turnover, fights free radical damage and inflammation, and assists in the production of collagen and elastin,” Dr. Maiman says. It also encourages your body to metabolize faster and can help you feel less bloated.
What to eat and avoid for clear skin
Consuming the appropriate kinds of foods in the right proportions can help maintain the skin healthy and prevent unintended weight gain.
Taking in particular foods may maintain the skin clear. Certain foods have anti-inflammatory characteristics that may help reduce the severity of acne.
Yet, a number of factors, some unrelated to nutrition, can contribute to acne. If a person has acne, they might want to consult a physician or dermatologist to determine the best course of action.
This page discusses foods to eat, foods to avoid, and various acne treatments.
Food to avoid for clearer skin
Consider consuming fewer of the following foods if you’re worried about acne or just want to make sure your diet supports healthy skin.
Milk and dairy products
In certain people, skin disorders like acne may be exacerbated by milk and dairy products, according to the limited study that has been done.
2016, a review
According to a reliable source, severe acne may be associated with elevated blood levels of the hormone IGF-1. IGF-1 and adrenal gland interaction alters hormone levels and aids in the development of acne. This hormone is present in milk and other dairy products, which could account for any probable association between dairy consumption and acne.
In addition to how IGF-1 affects the hormones responsible for acne formation, additional hormones found in milk and dairy products may have both favorable and unfavorable effects on acne, according to Trusted Source. For instance, the female hormone may actually lessen acne.
Consuming dairy products, especially skim milk, was linked to having more acne in certain studies of young girls and boys. This might be because skim milk has less estrogen than whole milk.
Acne may also be influenced by other milk product ingredients. For instance, dairy contains the amino acid leucine, which encourages the synthesis of sebum in skin cells, according to an earlier studyTrusted Source.
Foods with a high glycemic index
Acne may be exacerbated by high glycemic index (GI) diets, according to research from a reliable source.
Foods with a higher GI increase insulin levels and blood sugar more quickly than meals with a lower GI.
A high GI diet stimulates the body to make more insulin. Excess insulin in the body boosts the skin’s production of androgen hormones and sebum, which can result in acne.
Foods with a high GI are frequently seen in Western diets and include:
- refined grains
- sugary cereals
- white bread
- sugary beverages
- foods with added sugars
If a person eats the foods on this list in moderation, it is unlikely that any one of them will result in acne. Yet, eating a diet that frequently contains a lot of these items may be a factor in acne development.
Does chocolate cause acne?
According to anecdotal evidence, a lot of individuals think eating chocolate causes acne.
Yet a 2016 evaluation
According to a reliable source, there is no conclusive proof linking eating chocolate to one’s level of acne. After consuming this dish, some people develop serious acne, while others do not.
Research on the topic of chocolate and acne have come up empty. If there is a connection, it might be caused by the milk and sugar that some chocolate varieties include.
Foods that may help with clear skin
To keep the skin at its healthiest and help reduce acne, consider increasing consumption of the following foods.
Fatty fish is a source of omega-3 fats, an essential part of the diet with several well-documented positive health effects.
A 2020 review found that consuming omega-3 fatty acids, such as those found in fatty fish, helped manage inflammatory skin conditions, including:
- skin ulcers
Additionally, including omega-3s in the diet reduces the likelihood of developing skin cancer and may also decrease the effect certain drugs have on the skin.
Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables have positive effects on skin health. A 2019 studyTrusted Source notes that they contain sulforaphane, which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Sulforaphane may also help prevent premature skin aging by stimulating several protective processes in skin cells and promoting stem cell renewal.
There is not much evidence on the direct effects of broccoli on acne. However, one review articleTrusted Source found this vegetable and several other plant foods contained low amounts of leucine, an amino acid involved in sebum production.
When the skin produces too much sebum, it may leadTrusted Source to acne.
Soy may have beneficial effects on the skin.
An older studyTrusted Source asked people to consume 160 milligrams of a compound from soybeans called isoflavone every day for 12 weeks. The research found participants receiving the isoflavone had significantly decreased acne lesions, or pimples, after treatment compared with the placebo group.
The treatment group also had decreased androgen hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT) levels, which is related to testosterone.
High levels of DHT and testosterone play a role in increasing acne development, according to an older 2009 paperTrusted Source. However, researchers believe the hormone estrogen decreases sebum production, in part by inhibiting testosterone.
The isoflavonesTrusted Source in soy are structurally similar to estrogen and can bind to estrogen receptors in the body. This may explain the link between soy intake and estrogen-related health outcomes, including skin elasticity, pigmentation, and vascularity.
There is some evidence that consuming soy products may reduce wrinkles and increase the amount of collagen that the body produces, which in turn promotes skin integrity.
Red grapes and red wine contain the compound resveratrol, which may have several health benefits.
One older in vitro studyTrusted Source on the bacteria that cause acne found that resveratrol was somewhat toxic to acne bacteria and worked to inhibit them over the long term. The researchers recommended more studies to investigate resveratrol further as a potential therapy for acne.
A 2020 studyTrusted Source found that resveratrol may beneficially affect the skin in several other ways.
This substance may protect the skin by helping it stay moisturized and preventing it from losing heat.
Additionally, resveratrol may protect against UV damage. This may help protect against premature aging and other signs of sun damage, such as wrinkles and liver spots.
Resveratrol also has an antioxidant effect that may help prevent skin aging, reduce the appearance of acne, and the development of skin disorders. This includes skin cancers, such as melanoma.
However, it is important to note that when a person consumes resveratrol from dietary sources, they may notTrusted Source see any meaningful effect as the concentration of resveratrol would be too low.
The Clear Skin Diet: What to Eat to Keep Your Skin Healthy and Blemish-Free
You take the time to carefully choose your cosmetic products, ensuring sure they are the best fit for your skin type and devoid of any potentially dangerous components. After all, what you put on your face matters.
If you have acne, you need to be even more watchful because the smallest error could result in a breakout.
You might be surprised to learn that, at least in terms of skin health, what you put in your body matters just as much as what you put on your face. While some meals can worsen your skin’s health and condition, others can prevent breakouts.
How can you determine which meals promote clear, healthy skin and which ones do not?
Fortunately, there isn’t a difficult routine or recipe that will give you flawless skin. It only entails feeding your body—as well as your skin—healthy nutrients that battle inflammation and lessen acne.
Let’s look more closely at the root causes of acne and the various foods that can help lessen and avoid outbreaks for clear, healthy skin.
Inflammation, Oxidative Stress and Adult Acne
Broadly speaking, acne is an inflammatory, chronic skin illness that most usually affects the face, shoulders, back, neck, and chest. It can also affect other parts of the body. It frequently results from excessive oil production, blocked pores, shifting hormone levels, and microorganisms.
For many years, the widely accepted clinical theory regarding acne claimed that an existing non-inflammatory comedone or blackhead would evolve into an inflammatory papule when acne-causing bacteria, primarily Propionibacterium acnes, entered the sebaceous gland.
Yet, more recent clinical investigations contend that inflammation exists throughout the entire acne development process. The terminology used to define acne—typically noninflammatory vs inflammatory—may really be completely inaccurate, according to a study that was published in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology.
According to a recent clinical study, oxidative stress brought on by persistent inflammation is a major contributor to the development of acne. This hypothesis is supported by research findings that were published in the journal Mediators of Inflammation.
In this 2005 study, 43 acne patients and 46 controls were used to compare the effects of oxidative stress on acne vulgaris. Researchers found that oxidative stress is more prevalent in acne sufferers because they measured its parameters and compared them to the severity and spread of acne.
They also determined that supplementary antioxidants may be effective in combination with other acne treatments.
What causes inflammation and how does it lead to oxidative stress?
Oxidative stress results from an imbalance between the body’s ability to eliminate reactive oxygen species (ROS), a particular kind of free radical, and the synthesis of such molecules.
Free radicals are oxygen-containing molecules that destroy healthy cells in the body, starting a chain reaction that results in oxidative stress and chronic inflammation. By stabilizing free radicals, antioxidants halt the progression of damage.
Therefore it stands to reason that consuming more antioxidants will help tilt the scales in the right direction to lessen oxidative stress and, consequently, lessen acne.
Boost Antioxidant Concentrations to Combat Inflammation
Several plant-based foods, including fruits, vegetables, green tea, red wine, and dark chocolate, to mention a few, naturally contain antioxidants. Antioxidants come in a variety of forms, and the majority of them fall into one of two categories: direct antioxidants or indirect antioxidants.
Here is an overview of these two types of antioxidants:
- Direct Antioxidants – These are simply antioxidants derived from whole foods in the form of vitamins and minerals. Some examples include vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, beta-carotene and anthocyanins.
- Indirect Antioxidants – These are substances which stimulate the body to produce its own store of antioxidants – they also activate and recycle the body’s detoxification enzymes. Some examples of indirect antioxidants include sulforaphane, resveratrol and glutathione.
The term “antioxidant” is most often used to describe natural, whole-food direct antioxidants. Yet, it’s vital to remember that indirect antioxidants are actually more potent because they effectively remove heavy metals from the body and continue to assist the body fight free radicals for hours after consumption.
Direct antioxidants, on the other hand, run out after neutralizing a free radical.
So, what are some ways to boost your antioxidant intake? Start by changing your diet in a healthy way. Many blogs can provide you with healthy recipes and motivation to make better dietary choices if you don’t know where to start.
When it comes to food, the unit of measurement for antioxidant capacity is Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC). The higher the ORAC, the stronger the antioxidant capacity. By including foods with high ORAC ratings in your diet, you can fight oxidative stress and reduce inflammation.
Here are some of the highest ORAC foods you should include in your clear skin diet:
- Leafy Greens – Dark leafy greens like collards, spinach and kale contain numerous antioxidants, including carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin.
- Cruciferous Vegetables – Vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and turnips are rich in antioxidants and a variety of other phytonutrients.
- Orange/Yellow Foods – Foods that are orange or yellow in color like carrots, mangoes, sweet potatoes and apricots contain carotenoids which offer antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting benefits.
- Red Foods – Red pigmented foods like tomatoes, watermelon, papaya and pink grapefruit are rich in lycopene, an antioxidant which fights cancer and heart disease as well as general inflammation.
- Blue/Purple Foods – Foods like blueberries, red cabbage, beets and plums contain pigments called anthocyanin which, in addition to their antioxidant benefits, also protect against heart disease and the harmful effects of carcinogens.
- Green Tea – Both green and white tea are rich in polyphenols that fight inflammation. In fact, green tea contains roughly 30% polyphenols by weight and also includes a type of natural antioxidant called catechins which prevent cell damage and reduce inflammation.
- Dark Cacao – While it may not be wise to fill your diet with sugar-laden milk chocolate, chocolate with high cocoa content is also high in antioxidants. Look for raw cacao or dark chocolate with at least 70 percent cacao content for the best benefit.
- Red Wine – Red grapes and red wine contain high levels of polyphenols which provide a number of health benefits, particularly for heart health. Flavonoids are the most active polyphenols in red wine and they offer powerful antioxidant benefits.
Reducing inflammation to fight acne is just one component of the clear skin diet. Keep reading to learn more about reducing acne and improving skin health through simple dietary changes.
The Foundations of a Clear Skin Diet
Acne is an inflammatory skin condition so, by reducing inflammation throughout the body, you can ease your acne symptoms. Foods rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids are the foundation of an anti-inflammatory diet and the first step in creating a clear skin diet.
Step 1: Decrease Inflammation
In addition to the antioxidant-rich foods listed in the previous section, you should include some of these omega-3-rich foods in your diet as well:
- Cod liver oil
- Chia seeds
- Flaxseed oil
- Soybean oil
- Canola oil
- Fortified yogurt
- Fortified milk
- Fortified soy milk
While increasing your intake of omega-3s is important to fight acne, you also need to balance your intake with omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-6 fatty acids are pro-inflammatory while omega-3s are anti-inflammatory. Research suggests, however, that a balance of both is the key to reducing inflammation. The best diet to fight inflammation is rich in omega-3s and low in omega-6s.
The best sources of omega-6 fatty acids to include in your diet are as follows:
- Flaxseed oil
- Hemp seeds
- Hempseed oil
- Safflower oil
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sunflower seeds
Plant oils like corn oil, safflower oil, soybean oil, sunflower seed oil and cottonseed oil are also rich in omega-6 fatty acids but they also tend to be processed or refined which may limit their nutritional value.