What wouldn’t you do for clear skin? Americans spend billions on over-the-counter acne treatments every year, but those expensive scrubs, masks, and creams won’t fix any breakouts if it’s the inside that’s calling the shots.
Skin is how our bodies talk to us and if we don’t pay close attention to what we put into our bodies, any message we get will no doubt be in red.
So how do we make sure the gut-skin communication is flawless?
Research has shown that low-glycemic, high-protein foods play a significant role in improving acne. So, start with a clean, wholesome foundation, like a diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables!
Here are 5 of the best foods to help make zits and blemishes a thing of the past.
Kale outshines the other members of the cabbage family because it’s the most nutrient dense.
High in fiber, this low-calorie superfood is packed with:
- vitamins A, B-6, C, and K
The antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals in kale work to reduce hyperpigmentation, which is the key to evening out your skin tone. Vitamin C also promotes collagen formation, helping to repair acne scars faster by increasing cell turnover rate.
To try: Add a cup of kale to your morning smoothie or lightly sauté it as a tasty side dish for lunch or dinner.
2. Sweet potatoes
Retinol, a vitamin A derivative, is ideal for fighting acne and warding off wrinkles. There are hundreds of retinol creams and serums on the market that promise to make your acne disappear, but for those who are under age 30, this strong ingredient may be too harsh for the skin.
So, eat it instead! Or at least, the original form.
Beta-carotene, which gets converted into vitamin A, is one of the reasons sweet potatoes have their rich, beautiful orange color.
After eating sweet potatoes, your body will convert beta-carotene into vitamin A. This vitamin has properties that will act as a skin barrier against discoloration, inflammation, and clogged pores often brought on by free radicals.
To try: Sweet potato casserole is synonymous with holiday dinners, but serving them up as baked fries or a creamy bowl of soup is an easy way to get these benefits all year.
There may be a season for pumpkin-infused everything, but there’s a lot more to this gourd than pie and lattes.
Loaded with fruit enzymes, zinc, and alpha hydroxy acids, pumpkin can soften skin and restore pH balance. It’s why you also find it in many masks and exfoliating products.
But internally, all that fiber and zinc will do you good too. Zinc helps to regulate the amount of oil production.
To try: Whisk pumpkin puree into pancake batter for a fall-themed breakfast or simply roast the seeds, adding a little oil and a dash of salt.
What do chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils, and peanuts all have in common? These legumes are low-glycemic, so they’re associated with more consistent blood sugar levels and fewer acne flare-ups.
High glycemic foods, including chocolate, breakfast cereals, bagels, and white rice, may cause a spike in blood sugar. Research shows this not only leads to type 2 diabetes, heart attack, and stroke, it may also take a toll on your skin.
To try: Add them to soups and stews or sprinkle some on top of your salads for a nutrient-dense meal.
Papayas contain a digestive enzyme called papain. On your skin’s surface, papain is powerful enough to:
- exfoliate dead skin cells
- unclog pores
- fade acne scars
- hydrate skin
- prevent any future breakouts
For the inside, this exotic fruit does wonders too. Its vitamins and minerals improve skin elasticity and can help banish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Benefits of papaya:
- vitamins A, C, and K
- B vitamins, including folate
To try: They’re fabulous in a tangy salsa, smoothie, sorbet, or curry. You can also try it topically as a rejuvenating mask for softer, brighter skin.
A cup of cooked quinoa has 17 to 27 grams of fiber, so you’ll experience less constipation. Pooping regularly eliminates toxins from your body, resulting in clearer skin and fewer dark spots.
To try: Quinoa tastes fabulous in a salad or as a side dish, but it also makes a great substitute for wheat flour in cookies, muffins, and other baked goods. Feeling adventurous?