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Food · February 28, 2019

How Your Diet Impacts Your Skin

The Food: Fatty fish and nuts

##The Benefit: Can reduce sun damage
Fish and nuts have one thing in common: Omega fatty acids. These ingredients have been shown to protect skin from sun damage, according to Kenneth Howe, MD, a dermatologist at Wexler Dermatology in New York, NY. Specifically, studies show that people taking omega fatty acid supplements developed a higher minimal erythema dose in their skin," he says. Translation: a higher dose of ultraviolet light was required to produce a sunburn in these people. That means skin naturally became more resistant to sunburns, which is pretty rad. Sun protection is still a must no matter how much fish you eat (nor will it cause existing line and wrinkles to magically smooth out), but theres still potential for omega fatty acids to reduce sun damage.

The Food: Leafy greens, like kale and Swiss chard

##The Benefit: Lower skin cancer risk
Leafy greens are packed with vitamin A, also known in the skincare realm as retinol. Not only is it an MVP ingredient when applied topically, internally "it enhances skin repair after ultraviolet damage, Howe says. It also has shown to reduce the incidence of UV light-induced tumors in mice. He points to a 2014 analysis of studies that focused on the influence of retinol intake on melanoma. It found a 20% reduction in melanoma risk in people with a high intake of retinol-rich foods, such as leafy greens, he says. Again: Sunscreen is a must (and mice studies are not the same as human trials!) but consider this yet another reason to get your greens.

The Food: Citrus fruits, like orange, grapefruit, or lemons

##The Benefit: Anti-aging
If leafy greens aren't your jam, this might be more your speed: Fire up the juicer or grab a grapefruit, because citrus fruits can deliver a ton of skincare benefits. Theyre rich in vitamin C, readily available, and delicious, he says. And thats essential, because bodies cant make vitamin C on their ownbut its necessary for said bodies to function properly. (Inconvenient but true.) Once consumed, vitamin C makes its way via the bloodstream to reach our skin cells." Within cells, it helps in collagen production and offers protective antioxidant properties, meaning it defends skin against the free radical damage caused by UV light and pollution. This two-pronged approach has big benefits. Promotion of collagen production helps reverse sun damage, while antioxidant activity helps prevent it, says Howe.

The Food: Low-glycemic foods, like whole grains, corn, and carrots

##The Benefit: Clearer skin
If theres one thing that doesnt deserve a spot on your plate, its foods that have a high glycemic index. That means it's full of carbohydrates that are absorbed lightning-fast by the body, which then leads to skyrocketing blood-sugar levels. In turn, your body releases insulin to help process it. And when that happens often enough, it can lead to insulin resistance. This can prompt the release of hormones like insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), he says, "which can be a stimulator of acne. And yes, it's true that some of the most tempting treat, like candy, desserts, and processed foods, all have high glycemic indexesand therefore can lead to breakouts. By contrast, foods with a low glycemic index, like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, release glucose at a slower, steady pace, which allows your body to better manage its insulin.

Author

Madelyne