Good nutrition affects not only how you feel, but how you look as well. You might only think about how the foods you eat affect your weight, but they can play a role in skin health as well. Although the old wives' tales of greasy foods and chocolate causing acne are just myths, a nutrient-rich diet can help you achieve clear, healthy skin.
For healthy skin, skip the doughnuts, pastries and maple syrup-coated pancakes that often grace the breakfast table. Associate professor of dermatology Meagan McCusker told "The Washington Post" that her top advice is to avoid sugar, which causes inflammation. Start your day off with a cup of probiotic-rich yogurt with fresh fruit such as grapes, which contain antioxidants that can help treat inflammatory skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema, says nutritionist Rachelle Wood. While the probiotics in yogurt -- and kefir -- boost skin health, McCusker says, avoid other forms of dairy because they can worsen acne. Or combine yogurt and fresh fruit in the blender for a smoothie as your morning meal.
Lunches for Healthy Skin
To get as many nutrients as possible, focus on taking in colorful produce at lunch by eating an extra-large salad topped with nuts, avocado and salmon. Start with a bed of dark leafy greens, and top it with nuts, such as almonds and cashews. Both of these nuts offer healthy fats, protein and zinc, which helps promote skin integrity and heals wounds. This is especially beneficial if you have any red, raw pimples you've picked at. Salmon contains omega-3 fatty acids, which also helps support healthy cells in the skin, while avocado is a rich source of vitamins E and C, which reduce skin inflammation. During winter months, mix chopped greens such as collard greens, spinach or kale into a beef stew -- 3 ounces of chuck roast provide 47 percent of the daily value of zinc.
Continue to regulate your blood sugar levels by swapping processed white carbohydrates for their whole-grain counterparts at dinnertime. Fill a quarter of your plate with a whole grain such as brown rice, which contains vitamin B. This vitamin, according to Wood, helps decrease breakouts by regulating hormone levels. Add a clove or two of garlic, which contains a chemical called allicin that kills harmful bacteria in your body. Round out the meal with colorful vegetables and a source of lean protein. If you didn't eat an oily fish at lunch, add a serving of mackerel, salmon or other cold-water fish.
Avoid drinking sugary soda or alcohol in favor of plenty of water throughout the day to see clearer skin. The Institute of Medicine recommends that men drink 125 ounces of water a day, while women should drink 91 ounces a day. Dermatologist Alan Dattner calls the skin "a third kidney" in a "Washington Post" article, saying it needs plenty of water to work properly.