Have you ever wondered how some women manage to have glowing, vibrant skin despite having a low-maintenance skin care routine? I happen to know a few of them—and they don’t even spend exorbitant amounts of time and money on skin care regimens and weekly facials. So how do they do it? A simple routine of burst training combined with weight resistance and at least eight hours of quality sleep keep them lean, toned and vibrant. But, more importantly, they put a premium on their diets.
Keeping a well-balanced diet is more than just counting calories and going low-sugar impact. Here are seven diet strategies to help you achieve a healthy, glowing complexion—naturally.
1. Ditch the milk (and other highly reactive foods). Gluten, dairy and other highly reactive foods can wreak havoc on your skin. One of the largest and longest studies ever, the Nurses’ Health Study, looked at 77,761 nurses over 12 years. Researchers found that those who drank the most milk as teenagers had higher rates of severe teenage acne. The only way to find out how these highly reactive foods affect you is to cut them out for at least 21 days. If your skin clears up, your hair perks up, your energy levels rise and you drop weight…well, as they say, to see is to believe.
2. Up your fat intake. I mean the healthy fats, also known as essential fatty acids. Not only do these fats help produce your skin’s natural oil barrier, which keeps your skin hydrated, it also prevents inflammation and premature skin aging. Switch out the inflammation-inducing vegetable oils for extra virgin olive oil (for drizzling), olive oil (for sautéing) and organic coconut oil (for high-heat cooking). Then increase your intake of healthy fats-rich foods like avocado, olives, coconut milk and slow-roasted or dehydrated nuts and nut butters.
3. Bring in more color. For healthy skin, pile on leafy and cruciferous veggies like Brussels sprouts and spinach. Their rock-star nutrient, antioxidant vitamin C, helps synthesize collagen and prevent breakdown that contributes to wrinkles. Focus on low-sugar fruits like berries, which are rich in antiaging antioxidants like resveratrol that prevent age-related skin disorders.
4. Get rid of sugar—gradually. We all know how sugar wreaks havoc on our skin: It attaches to collagen to form sticky proteins called advanced glycolated end products (AGEs), which decrease skin elasticity. But beware: Going cold turkey doesn’t work. Focus on building a slow-but-sure strategy that will get you off sugar for good.
5. Boost your protein. Among their benefits, protein-rich superstars like wild salmon, free-range organic poultry, grass-fed beef and (if you’re not intolerant) barnyard eggs provide collagen-building amino acids. My favorite way to start the day is a protein shake. Combine non-soy, non-dairy protein powder with unsweetened coconut milk, berries, kale and flax or chia seeds—a fast, filling, fat-burning breakfast that’s fabulous for your skin!
6. Drink up.I’m talking water here. (Although red wine provides antiaging resveratrol, and green tea contains skin-protecting polyphenols.) Thirst signals dehydration, and your skin reaps the consequences. Remedy that by sipping on filtered water to hydrate cells so nutrients stay in and toxins get out. When you’re optimally hydrated, you also sweat more efficiently to keep skin glowing. One study found just two cups of water daily could improve blood flow to your skin.
7. Choose your supplements wisely. At the very least, a good multivitamin can serve as insurance that fills in the nutrient gaps you’re probably not getting in food. Many vitamins and minerals contribute to glowing skin. Vitamin A and zinc work as powerful antioxidants to protect your skin from free-radical damage, while manganese helps with collagen formation.
READERS—What one strategy would you add here for healthy, glowing skin? Share yours in the comments section below.