Diet For Healthy Skin

By Mel Thomassian (RD)


Bob Moawad once said, “Quality begins on the inside, and then works its way out.” I think this is very profound, and not only true of how you are as a person, but can also be said of your health. In fact, there’s good reason to believe the food you put into your body has a huge influence on how healthy and glowing you look on the outside too.

So, forget all the lotions and potions of the day, a healthy balanced diet is the best way to keep your skin in tip top condition!

A 2001 study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, found that Swedish participants aged 70 and older, had the least skin wrinkling in a sun-exposed site when compared to four other ethnic groups. The study data suggests,

“Subjects with a higher intake of vegetables, olive oil, and monounsaturated fat and legumes, but a lower intake of milk/dairy products, butter, margarine and sugar products, had less skin wrinkling in a sun-exposed site.”

7 Steps to Healthy Skin

1. Stay Well Hydrated
Keeping your body well topped up with fluid will go a long way in maintaining healthy looking skin.

Interestingly a 2004 study published in Journal of Investigative Dermatology found that the polyphenols in green tea (specifically EGCG the main antioxidant) may help prevent UVB skin damage.

For maximum benefit aim for at least 8 cups of fluid per day, preferably from water, or green tea (aim for around 2-4 cups).

2. Choose Healthy Carbs
If your diet’s packed to the brim with refined carbohydrates how can you expect your skin to look its best?

Switch white bread, cookies, and pasta for their healthier wholegrain cousins and you’ll also be getting a good dose of anti-aging antioxidants and fiber to help eliminate toxins.

3. Avoid Too Much Protein
In her book “The Beauty Diet,” Lisa Drayer (MA, RD) states that when protein intake is very high it causes water loss from the body as a way of breaking down the products of protein metabolism.

Editor’s note: DRI for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram body weight (adults). Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range (AMDR) states 10-35% of energy should come from protein each day.

4. Go For Healthy Fats
We know how important healthy fats are for all-round good health, but they are also important for healthy skin.

Essential fatty acids are important for healthy cell membranes, and since the cell membrane is what holds water in, the stronger that barrier is, the better your cells can hold moisture. This equals plump, younger looking skin.

To make sure you’re getting enough omega-3s in your diet eat one portion of fatty fish each week, such as salmon, mackerel, and herring. In addition to this you could also include vegetable oils (soybean, canola, walnut, and flaxseed), or walnuts and flaxseed in their whole from.

5. Eat The Whole Food
If you tend to eat only the fleshy part of the fruit and vegetable you could be missing out on the skin friendly benefits.

Silica, found in plant-based foods, can help maintain the elasticity of your skin and improve your complexion. You can find silica in the parts often discarded from the fruit and veg such as the strings and peels, so where possible try to include these.

6. Choose a Colorful Diet

  • Vitamin C is really important in helping your skin look younger, being involved in the formation of collagen, which keeps skin firm, and reduces wrinkles. Vitamin C is found in berries, oranges, grapefruit, kiwis, red bell peppers, and broccoli, etc
  • Selenium is said to play an important role in the health of skin cells. Some studies show that skin damaged by the sun may suffer fewer consequences if selenium levels are high. Plant foods such as vegetables, are the most common dietary sources of selenium (depending on the soil where they were grown). Brazil nuts, fish, shellfish, red meat, grains, eggs, and chicken are also good sources of selenium.
  • Anthocyanins have antioxidant properties, which can help rid the body and skin cells of free radicals, and therefore help to prevent damage leading to skin aging and skin cancer. Anthocyanins are the pigments found in blue, purple, and red fruits such as in berries, pomegranates, grapes, and plums.

7. Avoid Too Much Sun Exposure
While a little sun may be beneficial for vitamin D production, too much sun can lead to wrinkles, melasma, and sun spots. By avoiding this danger, you can save yourself from expensive skin bleaching procedures and wrinkle removal treatments in the future.

Since your skin is the largest organ in the body, it makes sense that how you nourish yourself will show from the inside out. What are your tips for healthy looking skin?

Photo credit

Natural Scabies Treatments– Get rid of scabies in the most natural ways possible that will be good for your skin.


  1. Spectra

    My skin looks great now and I barely ever break out anymore. I think a big key to it has been the fact that I eat a lot of dark green leafy veggies, lots of fruits, tomatoes, carrots, etc. Foods that are high in antioxidants, basically. I’m pretty sure that since plants are constantly exposed to the sun, they have the compounds necessary to protect themselves from it. So it only makes sense that if we eat those foods, we’ll be protected as well.

    I also disagree with #3…it’d be pretty tough to eat so much protein that it would interfere with your body’s water balance. For good skin health, it’s more important to avoid the white carbs than it is to avoid excess protein.

  2. Melanie Thomassian

    Hi Paprika,
    Thanks for your comments. For clarity the DRI and AMDR % for protein has been added.

  3. Ryan

    I totally disagree the mention of vegetable oils in #4. These fats are very high in Omega-6, which fights Omega-3 for absorption. The Omega-3 is also ALA, which has poor conversion rate. Also, saturated fats increase the utilization of Omega-3.

    I use butter, cream, tallow, lard, and egg yolk from pasture-fed animals instead.

  4. Kellie - My Health Software

    Yes! I stopped drinking coffee or any caffiene drinks 8 years ago. I was pregnant with my first child and couldn’t stand the smell of coffee at the time. I found my skin stopped breaking out and was thrilled. At the time I thought it was the hormones and ‘pregnancy glow’ that improved my skin.

    My youngest is now 6 and the pregnancy hormones are long gone, but my skin is still beautiful. I do think that stopping coffee has been a key reason I don’t get acne anymore. I love the smell of coffee but wont touch it. It can be a bit anti-social, but I enjoy having good skin too much. Trent, try going without coffee and caffeinated drinks for a few weeks to see if it helps you too. I would love to know.

  5. paprika

    Number three was hilarious:
    “Instead go for a protein intake of around 80-100 grams, which is about 25% of total calories (1,500 calorie diet). ”

    1. I know NO ONE who eats less than 2000 calories a day; mostly people who eat more (yes, including the women).

    2. Most Americans only get 10% – 15% of calories from protien. To suggest that people eat too much protien is a bit off. A diet that is 25% protien is actually considered a fairly high protien diet; the highest protien diet that most humans can tolerate without ill effects is in the 35%-40% range.

    3. This bullet point will, sadly, scare some people off of eating more protien — when in reality, they could maybe use more. It is satisfying (helps prevent overeating) and necessary for just about every function in the body.

  6. Jody - Fit at 51

    I definitely think doing this is better vs. not for sure & helps BUT I do think at some point, your genes from parents come into this…. some people do it all & it does not matter.. plus from experience, aging causes issues that no amount of right eating will help. Saying that, eating healthy is better vs. not but there are just some things that need other help.

  7. Yum Yucky

    Really? I’m protein illiterate, but trying to learn.

  8. Jonathan Aluzas

    I have rosacea, which sucks. I notice how much clean eating (lots of fruits and veggies), plenty of water and green tea and consistent, rigorous exercise seem to keep it in check. On those occasions when I’m eating crappy, under-hydrated and not working out worth a damn my face suffers.

  9. Barry

    #1 and #4 are good. #3 is complete and total nonsense.

    Even if #3 were true, following #1 would negate #3.

  10. Yum Yucky

    I’ve been eating so much better and I see the benefits in my skin, but it’s good that you break it down so I understand WHY I see these changes.

    I just ended my life-long relationship with white pasta. It tastes really nasty to me anymore. But based on your info, there’s still lots of room for me to improve.

    Thanks for this!

  11. FitJerk - Flawless Fitness Blog

    Nope… I drink one cup everyday (no more though) and my skin stays pretty awesome.

    Water, Healthy fats (omega 3’s 6’s 9’s), and getting your daily vitamins has shown to have the most profound effect on skin from what I’ve seen.

    I’m also not too sure about this “too much protein” nonsense. I take in a LOT of protein and everything seems to be just dandy. I also know quite a few people who take in ALOT of protein and they have great skin…

  12. Trent

    Does anyone else find that drinking coffee increases breakouts? I definitely see a correlation between the coffee I drink and the complexion of my face, which is a shame because I do like coffee. I try to limit my drinking to only 2 days a week. I’m 30 and the type of guy that still uses Clearasil every night.