Foods to eat (and avoid) to improve dry skin

JENN SAVEDGE, Mother Nature Network

If the bitter cold temperatures outside and the dry air indoors leave your skin in desperate need of some moisture, you may find yourself in the beauty aisle in search of a solution. When we think of skin care, we almost always think about the products we put on our skin. But it turns out, there are foods you can eat that will help increase moisture in your skin from the inside out.

On the flip side, there are also foods that will increase your skin’s dehydration factor. To sort it all out, we talked to the experts and dove into the science about nutrition and skin to learn which foods to eat, and which foods to avoid, to help prevent dry skin during the winter.

Fruits. Fruits are naturally hydrating, which is a plus for your whole body but especially your skin. Many fruits, such as oranges, pineapples and peppers also contain loads of vitamin C, a nutrient that not only helps fend off illness but is also important in the formation of collagen and the growth and repair of new skin cells. This large study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, looked at the diets of more than 4,000 women in the U.K. and found that vitamin C played a key role in preventing wrinkles and skin dryness as the woman aged.

Almonds. Almonds are high in vitamin E, an antioxidant that has been proven in studies to protect skin from the free-radicals that cause damage and lead to early aging. Other good sources of vitamin E include sunflower seeds and spinach.

Sweet potatoes. Your skin is susceptible to sun damage all year long. So it’s always a good idea to wear sunblock and load up on the foods that contain beta-carotene, a nutrient the body uses to protect the skin from the sun’s rays. Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of beta-carotene as are other orange veggies such as carrots and dark, leafy greens such as spinach.

Avocados. Everyone’s favorite toast topper also happens to be fantastic for skin health. It’s a good source of the healthy fats your body needs to keep skin flexible and moisturized. It also contains loads of vitamin C and E, which help to promote skin health.

Avocado toast

Seafood and seeds. Studies, such as this one published in the journal Nutrition for Healthy Skin, show that foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids promote skin health. “Eating foods high in omega-3 fats can help heal dry skin and prevent dehydration on a cellular level,” says Shannon Kenner, a certified nutrition consultant and one of the co-founders of Waxhead Sun Defense sunscreen. Foods high in omega-3s include wild salmon and mackerel as well as chia seeds and flax seeds. Fishy foods are also a good source of vitamin E and zinc, a mineral that aids in the production of new skin cells.

Walnuts. These nuts are packed with nutrients that can help prevent dry skin. Walnuts contain vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids as well as high levels of potassium, a mineral that helps counteract the drying effects of sodium on the skin.

Dark chocolate. As if you needed another reason to indulge in dark chocolate, consider this: In a study published in the journal Nutrition, participants who included cocoa powder in their diets for 12 weeks had skin that was thicker, more hydrated, and less rough and scaly than those who did not. Dark chocolate contains antioxidants that protect against free radicals as well as minerals such as selenium, zinc, and potassium, which help protect the skin.

Eating a french fry

It’s not just the foods you eat that can keep your skin hydrated but also the foods you don’t eat.

“Foods that are high in salt should be avoided, as they are generally dehydrating and can make your skin look and feel even drier,” says Dr. Marie Geyman, a naturopathic physician based in NYC, in an interview with MNN. “If you must eat or drink high-sodium products, it’s important to increase your water intake along with them,” says Geyman. Other foods that can be harsh on the skin? Sugary drinks, coffee, black tea and alcohol.

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