Contrary to what the beauty industry often bangs on about, good skin isn’t only about face creams and treatments. Glowing, healthy and clear skin truly begins from within.
Skin, being the largest organ of the body, can be an excellent reflection of overall health and vitality. Hair and nails can also be a great indicator of your nutritional status, because when the body becomes stressed for nutrients, things like hair and nails are often the first to be affected, as the body prioritises more “vital” organs and tissues to nourish. To be looking your best on the outside, you have to be taking care of yourself from the inside! Beauty is definitely much more than skin deep.
It is really hard coming up with a list of the foods that are best for beauty, because there are so many! But some foods definitely pack more of a punch than others, so here is a list of 10 of our favourites, and why including them in your diet can help you achieve your beauty goals. So here they are! (And if you’re in the mood for a bit of a word hunt – try to count the number of times we mention “antioxidant/s” and “Vitamin C”… it will be a few!)
So this is a whole group of foods, but there were too many amazing ones to put them on the list as individuals. Berries, in general, are super nutritionally dense, fibre-filled, energy light, and full of polyphenol antioxidants. Some of our favourites include Acai, Goji, Raspberries, Strawberries and Blueberries. Berries are the perfect snack, as they provide slow-releasing energy, taste amazing and a big handful won’t weigh you down. Berries are a particularly good source of vitamin C (strawberries win the vitamin C contest for berries by providing about 100% of your recommended daily intake per 100g). Goji berries are an amazing source of vitamin A, so amazing in fact, that you need to be really careful with how many you have – 1 tbsp of dried goji berries (28g) gives you about 300% of your RDI of vitamin A. Vitamin A assists with healthy skin production, acts as an antioxidant, is great for eye health and stimulates fibroblast activity (fibroblasts are the cells that build collagen fibres) – but too much vitamin A can cause toxicity.
Tomatoes are another low energy, high nutrient food. They are a great source of vitamin C, biotin and vitamin K. Biotin (also known as vitamin b7) is really good for helping the growth of hair and nails, and vitamin K is needed for wound healing. Another amazing component of tomatoes is a phytochemical called lycopene, which is a powerful antioxidant and is able to help protect the skin from UV rays and damage.
The humble carrot doesn’t get enough attention these days! Carrots are a great source of vitamin A (in the form of beta carotene), vitamin K, potassium, biotin, vitamin B6, fibre and antioxidants. We already know about the magical effects of vitamin A on the skin, but vitamin A is also needed for eye health. One of the other antioxidant compounds of carrots is a chemical called lutein, which is thought to protect the eye from blue light waves (which, thanks to technology, we get way more exposure to than we should). So take care of those windows to your soul with carrots!
4. Bone Broth
Bone broth provides a ton of nutrients. It provides a dietary source of collagen and Hyaluronic Acid, which is something our body produces itself (in relatively small quantities) but it’s great to be able to supplement the diet with a bit more. Hyaluronic Acid has this amazing ability to bind 1000x its own weight in water. It sits within deeper layers of the skin keeping the skin hydrated and looking plump (which is why it is often used as an injectable too!). Bone broth also contains some collagen… but collagen deserves its own spot on this list so more on that soon!
Time to thank your mum for always including a side of broccoli with dinner – because this food is an amazing one to have as a regular on your plate! It’s highly nutritious, containing a large amount of vitamin C, folate (B9), vitamin A, vitamin K, iron, manganese and potassium. It’s high fibre and has quite a high protein content for a vegetable. Broccoli also contains a range of antioxidants, so is also anti-inflammatory. Broccoli’s most studied antioxidant is a chemical called sulphoraphane – which has a huge number of health benefits, but has also been shown to improve oxygenation of the skin, promote hair and nail growth and assist the body with its natural detoxification processes.
6. Oily Fish
Oily fish (particularly think salmon, sardines and mackerel) are amazing for skin because of their high omega-3 content, which is protective and anti-inflammatory for skin. They also contain many other beneficial nutrients such as potassium, vitamin B6, niacin, vitamin E, and vitamin D. Oily fish help in the maintenance of our skin’s barrier function and keep skin calm and hydrated. A general rule for eating fish is to stick to smaller fish that are lower on the food chain. As you get higher up on the food chain, toxic heavy metals (particularly mercury) are present in higher concentrations, so are best avoided!
7. Red Wine
Red wine has to be included in this list because the French know beauty, and no one ever gets tired of hearing that a bit of wine is actually good for you (you’re welcome!). A moderate intake of red wine has been repeatedly shown to be associated with a range of health benefits compared to people who abstain completely. Red wine has high levels of a phytochemical called resveratrol (and other beneficial antioxidants such as catechin, epicatechin and proanthocyanidins) which are anti-inflammatory and help to protect the body from oxidative damage and slow the signs of aging. The words of warning that need to go with this “beauty food” is that there is a fine line between a healthy amount and an excessive amount – more is definitely not better! Another thing to look for is that some wine contains high levels of sulphites (used as a preservative) and sulphites are pro-inflammatory, often aggravating facial flushing, eczema, dermatitis and other skin conditions – so not such a great beauty food in those situations!
This delicious miracle of nature is another great food for skin! It’s high in monounsaturated fats (which are really healthy and great for skin barrier function), and avocados are also a source of the fat-soluble vitamins E, K and A. Eat the avocado, put the avocado on your face… whatever you do with it, your skin will love it!
Seeds are generally super nutritious! After all, they have to grow from a teeny tiny spec into a full-on plant which looks like a big job! Seeds tend to contain healthy fats (including our beloved omegas), and heaps of vitamins and minerals. Some of our favourites include Chia, Linseeds, Pepitas, and Hemp. Hemp is extra special because it is one of the rare plant sources that are a complete protein that provides all of your essential amino acids. Protein is definitely important for any beauty routine – as fibres that make up the structure of our skin are protein-based, and consuming adequate protein also helps to maintain and build more lean muscle.
Collagen is an amazing food to supplement the diet with. Collagen fibres make up a huge part of the skin matrix and as we age, these fibres break down at a rate faster than we can repair/rebuild them. By including collagen in your diet, you are providing your body with exactly what it needs to build its own collagen – makes sense! Studies have demonstrated that supplementing a healthy diet with collagen can reduce wrinkles and improve hydration and elasticity. So we think it’s an absolute hero for skin and can’t recommend it enough!