Drab skin, inflammation, premature ageing and breakouts are some of the most common problems affecting the skin.  What we eat and drink significantly affects the health and appearance of our skin. Read on for some top tips on how to channel your inner glow.


Antioxidants against redness


Antioxidants are our best friends when it comes to skin care. These  food chemicals (naturally occuring in veggies and fruits) are there to protect us in and out from daily damage caused by pollution, exposure to harmful chemicals, excessive sun time and stress. While all vegetables and fruits have antioxidants to some degree, the dark coloured ones are the ones we want to focus on; these include dark greens, reds and purples. Add collard greens to your plate, snack on cherries and add blueberries to your morning oats. Antioxidants are also found in tea and coffee.


Probiotics against breakouts


A healthy inside reflects on the outside. To avoid those breakouts (that somehow always seem to appear at the worst possible time), it is important to consider our gut health. Since the gut is a barrier for unwanted components, damage to it may allow unwanted toxins to leak through and later show up on our skin. A way to avoid this is by ensuring we are populating our gut with the beneficial bacteria it needs (a.k.a. probiotics). High-quality yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, and kimchi are all food sources of probiotics. To this, we can add some prebiotic fibres, which are basically food for the good bacteria in your body (because once the good guys are in there we wan them to stay). Prebiotics are found in unripe (green) bananas, artichokes, leeks and apples.


Healthy fats againts dryness


Dry skin may be a result of insufficient hydration, so drinking water regularly throughout the day is a good idea. In addition, we can help manage skin dryness by consuming sufficient favourable fats. This means adding avocados, olives, nuts and seeds to our plates. Having some oily fish (sardines, salmon) and vinaigrette, both of which add to your fat intake and help achieve glowing (as opposed to dry) skin is as additional strategy.  And don’t forget coconut, which you can both eat and smear all over yourself. For cooking try some ghee, which is also a source of vitamin E, key for skin health.


Water against puffiness


Hydrate, hydrate, and then hydrate some more. While it might seem counterproductive to put more water into our body when we have that puffy feeling, it works. When cells are in a dehydrated environment, they pull more water in than is necessary, thus the puffiness. So, by making sure we have enough fluids in our body we are helping the puffiness go down. Plain water too boring for you? Try green tea (which comes with the added antioxidant effect), herbal teas or infused water. Adding citrus fruits, cucumbers and ginger makes a drink more exciting and adds to our self-care practices.


Collagen against wrinkles


This one is a long term strategy. Collagen is a food protein that helps maintain the elasticity and tone of our skin tissue, helping us avoid wrinkles over time. It is the main component of other tissues as well, including tendons, ligaments, muscles and bones. We find collagen in bone broth, sardines, and now also as a powder supplement. If on a vegan lifestyle you can opt for collagen-precursors such as kelp and other types of seaweed.  Food high in proline, vitamin C, vitamin A, and anthocyanidins also support collagen formation, so adding some egg whites, cabbage, blueberries, and nuts to our plates helps.


On a final note, stay away from too much sugar. Consuming excessive amounts of sugar adds to the visible signs of ageing, giving us a more tired look. This advice also goes for highly-processed foods. Take care of yourself naturally, and love the skin you are in.


This post was originally published in Hip&Healthy.