We know first hand that there’s a lot you can do to your skin to give it a glow—but beauty is mostly an inside job. How much you sleep, your exercise routine, how noisy your day is, how well you hydrate and what you eat all show up on your skin, whether you like it or not.
That’s because every single cell in your body contains “powerhouse” parts called mitochondria, which regulate the transfer of energy. When your mitochondria are in good, healthy working order, they block harmful free radicals and the associated oxidative stress from the sun’s UV rays, toxins, and pollutants. “Leaky” mitochondria don’t do as good a job, and that’s where you’ll see cell damage. Inside your body left unchecked, it can result in chronic disease, hardening of the arteries and organ damage. Cell damage can show up on your skin as wrinkles, dryness, discoloration and sunken, sallow skin.
The best way to keep a fresh, healthy look isn’t to repair your skin—it’s to avoid damage in the first place. There are lots of ways to work in foods that help shore up your skin health.in the first place. There are lots of ways to work in foods that help shore up your skin health.
Fatty fish helps to protect your skin from sun exposure—and it’s especially important to get your vitamin D from food or supplements instead of the sun because we’re so often indoors or slathered in sunblock. You’ll find vitamin D in salmon, tuna, mackerel and other fatty fish (and their oils). Try this gorgeous recipe from the New York Times.
Spinach and nuts contain vitamin E. When you consume vitamin E (as opposed to applying topically), it gives your skin an added phytoprotective boost to protect the skin against sunburn. Martha Stewart brings it all together on your table in this Spinach Salad with Walnuts.
Olive oil contains powerful antioxidants and vitamins as well as antimicrobial properties (vinegar does too!). In addition to benefits for your skin, you’re getting a reduced risk of heart disease from oleic acid and oleocanthal and a bump in protection against other diseases and strokes. This primer on a basic vinaigrette from The Kitchn is infinitely adaptable to whatever aromatics and acids (try cider vinegar, lemon juice or white garbanzo beans for a healthy, protein-packed salad.
The humble tomato and other reddish/orange foods (looking at you, papaya, watermelon, guava, red grapefruit, and carrots) have high levels of lycopene and other carotenoids, which add a protective factor to the skin so it won’t burn as easily. Tomatoes are especially powerful after they’ve evolved into their ultimate forms of sauce and pastes—but it does take a while for the lycopene to build up in your system, so plan on eating them regularly. You can’t go wrong with Lynne Rosetto Kasper’s classic tomato sauce recipe over pasta or Eataly’s Tomato Bruschetta.
Turmeric has wonderful anti-inflammatory properties, which can help prevent wrinkles and discoloration, a 2009 study showed. It can also help encourage a natural glow and help fight skin diseases and promote wound healing. Bulletproof has a long list of turmeric recipes, including a Bloat-Busting Pineapple Turmeric Smoothie, Golden Milk Turmeric Ice Cream and Keto Broccoli Soup with Turmeric and Ginger.
Grapes contain resveratrol, which helps protect against a number of skin disorders, including damage from the sun, as well as certain cancers. The good news is that you can get a dose in red wine—but the bad news is that you’d have to drink about 1,000 bottles a day to get the full protection that supplements or topical applications provide. Still, we offer you this Red Wine Sangria recipe from Food & Wine to get you started on your way.
Blackberries and strawberries contain anti-inflammatory and wound-healing compounds called polyphenols. You can also use strawberries on your skin to tighten and smooth as well as to help dampen the pain when you get a sunburn. Rachel Ray has this inventive and delightful Berry Tiramisu that’s calling your name.
Green tea is a sort of wonder beverage that contains polyphenols that to help protect skin from UV rays. In addition, it can reduce acne and boost the immune system. You can also use cool, damp tea bags on your eyes when you’re a little puffy. A hot spiced green tea may be just what you need to get into the holiday spirit—and get your gorgeous on.