5 Foods For Healthy Skin

A few weeks ago I went to the Natural Products West Expo for work.  If you aren’t familiar with that, it is the largest show for natural food and cosmetic products in the U.S.

This is a great place to spot new food trends and see where the food industry is heading.  One trend that really struck me was the number of collagen drinks and supplements throughout the exhibits.  According to many of the vendors, collagen is supposed to help keep your skin healthy. It is touted to be a savior for aging skin by plumping it and preventing wrinkles along with making your bones and nails less brittle.

The collagen thing is kind of intriguing.  One of my colleagues asked me while we were walking the show if it worked, and what I thought about it.  I had only read a little about it and what I read was anything but positive, so I told her that and said I was skeptical, but that kind of gnawed at me.  What if there is something to it and I was being too judgemental? Yes, I fully admit I can be judgemental, especially when it comes to diets and dietary supplements. But I also fully admit, there is some merit to some dietary supplements so I decided to do some more research.

I don’t know about you, but I sometimes look at that person looking back at me in the mirror and wonder when those fine lines started showing up. Face creams and sunscreen and cover-up are a regular part of my life.  But, is there something to collagen water or drinks and would it make any difference?  

Collagen is what provides plumpness to our skin.  It really is what holds us together, helps repair joints and tendons and is found in our bones and skin. Collagen is a protein that is made up of a string of amino acids.  If you eat meat, chicken or other animal protein foods you are getting those building blocks that are needed to make it.  However, as we age, we do lose more than we make and that is part of why you see an increase in lines and wrinkles. 

The thought is that supplemental collagen will provide the extra that is needed.  There have been a few small studies that have shown a benefit in people who ingest 2.5 – 5 g of collagen a day.  The caveat is that these are very small studies and there are just as many that have shown no benefit. 

So the jury is out and much more research needs to be done.  Because, as with other dietary supplements, these really just supplement your diet – they don’t replace eating a good healthy diet.  You can get collagen from food and there are other foods you eat to help ensure healthy skin. 

There are 5 foods you can eat that will help your skin stay beautiful. 

  1. Fruit–Most fruits are packed with Vitamin C along with antioxidants and water.  Vitamin C helps your body produce collagen.  A study looking at the daily intake of over 4000 women found that those who ate more foods rich in vitamin C had a less wrinkled appearance.   An added benefit is vitamin C helps wounds heal quickly so those little cuts and scrapes that seem to take forever to heal may be less of an issue. 
  2. Vegetables – especially the dark green leafy and deep red veggies!  These babies are full of antioxidants and nutrients called flavonoids and polyphenols that help destroy free radicals.  What is a free radical?  Think about an old iron gate that has rusted.  If you had put a protectant on the iron it might have prevented the oxidation and the rust.  Free radicals are the protectant for your body.  They prevent oxidation that destroys healthy cells and protects them.  Lutein, zeaxanthin (found in dark green veggies and avocados) and lycopene (found in tomatoes) have been found to work on free radicals that develop from UV light.  Don’t skip the sunscreen, but eating more veggies can only be an added benefit.
  3. Nuts – specifically almonds and walnuts have been found to be most beneficial.  Almonds are rich in Vitamin E and walnuts are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, both help protect the skin. They also provide healthy oils that seal in moisture and help reduce inflammation.  
  4. Meat, chicken, fish – These protein-rich foods are full of the amino acids that help your body produce its own collagen.   Fish is rich in omega 3’s and b vitamins that reduce inflammation.  Red meat is also rich in zinc that helps produce collagen and helps reduce inflammation.     
  5. Water – Yes, staying hydrated will keep your skin hydrated!  Drinking plain water, eating fruit that has a high water concentration like melons, or drinking green tea all will help with hydration. Drinking more water or eating more foods that have a high water concentration can actually help reduce water retention and puffiness in healthy people.  The antioxidants in green tea will help with inflammation as well!

Bottom line, there probably isn’t a need for a pricey collagen supplement. I prefer eating good healthy food and quite honestly, after trying some of those supplements, I’ll stick with a bowl of delicious berries, a handful of nuts, a cup of tea, a nice filet or salmon steak for dinner and salad any day.

P.S.  I did try a collagen supplement for 2 weeks. Trying to not be judgemental, I gave it a try. I had a teaspoon in my coffee every morning.  It was over $7 for a tiny little bottle and added a distinct, and a not very good, flavor to my coffee. It was not a great way to start my morning. But I stuck with it to see if after 2 weeks I noticed a difference.  I did. I have more broken nails and my skin looks just as wrinkled!  I’ll stick with eating more fruit and go back to my regular, delicious coffee. Spring is coming and berries will be hitting the grocery store shelves soon!

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Hi! I'm Laura, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, recipe developer and writer. I love to cook and learn about and write about food. I'm a history buff, wine lover and wannabe gardener.

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