- The skin is the body’s largest organ, and good nutrition is important for keeping it healthy.
- Getting plenty of vegetables and staying hydrated promotes clearer skin, an expert says.
- Avoiding processed food, sugar, and alcohol can reduce redness and swelling.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
If you’re suffering from issues like acne, redness, or swelling, the problem may be more than skin deep.
“People think of the skin as a reflection of what’s happening on the inside,” registered dietitian and licensed aesthetician Meg Hagar told Insider.
What you eat can make a big difference, particularly if it involves cystic acne (bumps deep beneath the skin), or if the problem areas don’t respond to topical treatments, according to Hagar.
“Focus on eating whole foods, not processed, and don’t get caught up in the idea that it has to be a crazy diet or cleanse,” she said.
Eat different colors of fruits and vegetables
Load your plate up with fruits and veggies of every color, such as red peppers, leafy greens, and orange carrots or yellow squash — different colors of produce indicate different micronutrients, Zeitlin said.
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli are an especially good option for healthy skin, because they’re rich in nutrients like folate and
that support healthy cells, Hagar said.
Cut back on added sugar
To avoid irritating your skin with inflammation, Hagar recommends limiting processed foods, especially added sugar.
One way to cut sugar is to be mindful of how many packaged foods you’re eating, since those are a common, but unexpected, source.
“I think people would be really surprised looking at the label where it shows up,” Hagar said.
Don’t waste money on trendy cleanses or supplements
You might be tempted to boost your vitamin and mineral intake with pills, but Hagar said it’s not worth your time or money.
“You get so many more benefits out of eating the actual food,” she said.
Whole foods offer multiple nutrients at once, along with fiber, an important factor in healthy digestion.
Hagar said fad diets or detoxes are similarly unhelpful, since your body will naturally eliminate toxins if provided with the right nutrients.
“A more realistic and sustainable way to detox is to feed your body whole, plant-based foods,” she said.
One simple thing that can help your body flush out toxins is drinking plenty of water. You can also add in herbal or green tea for a more fun way to hydrate, Hagar suggested.
“Green tea is my favorite to recommend because it’s anti-inflammatory,” she said.
Be mindful of caffeine and alcohol consumption
However, too much caffeine, or concentrated sources like energy drinks, can raise stress hormone levels which can have a negative effect on your skin over time.
It’s also best to drink alcohol in moderation if you enjoy it, since it can interfere with your ability to process other toxins, Hagar said.
“Our bodies just don’t like alcohol, but it can have emotional value because enjoyment and socialization is good for your skin,” she said.
“It’s about what and how often you enjoy, and finding that balance for yourself.”