With the changing seasons and weather often came changes in our skin — and not in a good way. Now that the cold is approaching, many of us will find ourselves with dry, flaky skin. You can lather on all the expensive creams and lotions you want, but luckily you can also take the natural (and cheaper) route by eating foods that help to moisturize your skin.
Relieving dry skin from the inside out may not be the first thing we think about when planning our meals, but just like the rest of our bodies, our skin needs certain nutrients to help heal and repair itself and keep itself in optimal condition. Healthy foods can not only keep you hydrated, but they can work on a cellular level to keep your skin smooth and supple.
"If you eat foods high in salt content or preservatives, you will notice not only that your skin is puffy, but that it also is dry,” skincare expert Dr. Arleen Lamba, tells Bustle. “Some good ingredients to look for are omega-3 fatty acids, silica rich foods, and of course foods that are antioxidant rich."
Next time your skin is feeling a little less than ideal, try eating the following seven foods that will help nourish your skin and keep it healthy and moisturized.
Fatty fish such as salmon, herring, tuna, and trout contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which help retain moisture and strengthen your skin's barrier, Dr. Lamba says. Symptoms of omega-3 deficiencies include dry skin, so load up on fish and other omega-3-rich foods such as flax seed to keep your skin hydrated. These foods are not only recommended for good skin, but good health as well, as they are known to decrease inflammation throughout the body, according to Mayo Clinic. In fact, eating fish is so good for you that it is recommended you have one or two servings twice a week in order to maintain heart health. If you are a vegetarian, omega-3-rich foods such as flax seed can also keep your skin hydrated.
Nuts are the healthy snacks that are recommended as excellent sources of proteins and nutrients, but they’re also great for preventing dry skin. Board-certified dermatologist and celebrity beauty expert Dr. Anna Guanche, tells Bustle, “Nuts provide natural oils, which can be used as building blocks for components of the skin barrier, and enrich the sebum, or natural skin oils. They are packed with vitamins and oils that benefit skin health.”
Nuts are also rich in vitamin E, which has long been touted as a skincare savior. Vitamin E protects the skin from oxidative cell damage, and like omega-3 fatty acids, protects the skin barrier from external damage such as UV rays. The vitamin E found in nuts can also be used to help ease itchy, irritated skin and eczema.
Like nuts, avocado is rich in vitamin E and over 20 other vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. The fruit is also rich in monounsaturated fats, which not only keeps skin moist, but reduces inflammation. Avocados are healthy for your body, inside and out, making this the reason why so many face masks contain the fruit as a main ingredient. Avocados are highly recommended because they contain the aforementioned monounsaturated fatty acids, which can also help lower cholesterol, improve the function of blood vessels, help regulate insulin and blood sugar levels, according to the Mayo Clinic. Plus, who doesn’t love avocado toast?
4. Sweet Potato
These delicious vegetables contain an abundance of vitamin A, one of the most important nutrients for preventing dry skin. These antioxidants help repair tissue damage and help keep skin healthy. Sweet potatoes are sometimes called moisturizers because of their ability to heal skin and help it retain moisture — a 2007 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who consumed half a sweet potato daily for three years saw an improvement in their skin by 11%. Guanche says, “Sweet potatoes are packed with antioxidants such as beta carotene, which can turn into vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A helps build collagen and gives skin a supple appearance, just like Retin-A. Vitamin A deficiency can lead to dry, sallow-appearing skin, so eating a lot of sweet potatoes can help.”
Oysters are not just aphrodisiacs — they can hydrate your skin! Guanche says, “The omega fatty acids in oysters (and in all seafood) can help skin build natural oils. However, and most importantly, oysters are full of the nutrient Zinc, which helps aid the immune system, repair the skin and build collagen. Oysters also contain iron, which aids in many important skin processes.” Zinc is also a key mineral in repairing other skin issues like inflammation, acne, and scarring. Other foods high in zinc include beef, beans, and wheat germ.
6. Olive Oil
Olive oil contains vitamin E, monounsaturated fats, and omega-3 fatty acids, making it a nutritional powerhouse when it comes to your skin. This heart-healthy oil can help protect your skin from UV rays and protect from skin conditions such as dryness and eczema.
Guanche says that consuming olive oil can be beneficial to your skin. “Olive oil can help with dry skin by providing raw materials for the sebum, or natural skin oils. We find that it is best to consume olive oil rather than slather it on your facial skin, which could lead to breakouts in acne-prone individuals,” she says. “When you eat foods containing olive oil, or cook with more olive oil, or even take a spoonful each day, it gives your body the building blocks to make more natural skin oil and moisture. It also provides the essential building blocks to maintain a healthy skin barrier and reinforces the cell membrane.” Cures for dry skin usually include oil-based moisturizers, so why not use an inexpensive, natural oil over a pricey face-cream filled with chemicals?
Cucumbers contain vitamin A and vitamin C, which both work to help soothe skin and fight damage, including dryness. Not to mention, cucumbers contain one of the highest percentages of water content, which can help the skin remain hydrated, dermatologist and psychiatrist Amy Wechsler tells Huffington Post. "Silica found in water-rich vegetables such as cucumbers can help increase moisture leading to increased skin elasticity," Dr. Lamba says. In fact, cucumbers are so full of water and other nutrients that they can even be used to treat other skin issues like irritation or sunburn. Cucumbers have even been known to be key ingredients within moisturizing masks and creams.
Everyone’s skin is different and it’s important to find out what works for you and your skin. At the end of the day, although adding certain healthy foods into your lifestyle can help alleviate dry skin or other skin issues you might be facing, if your skin problems seem consistent, you may want to talk to a doctor or specialist to figure out what your skin might need in order to look and feel its best.
This post was originally published on April, 2016. It was updated on June 13, 2019. Additional reporting by Syeda Saad.
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