You can invest half your paycheck in serums and creams - even splurge on dermal fillers and pricey facials - but none of it will get you far without a skin-friendly diet.
Of course, your skin (and the rest of you, for that matter) is best served by a well-rounded diet, including healthy fats, sufficient protein, and lots of fruits and vegetables. But there are a few nutritional standouts that make particularly important contributions to strong, glowing skin:
1. Fish: Fatty fish like salmon, tilapia, and cod are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. And that's a good thing, because our bodies cannot produce those essential lipids naturally. By adding omega-3s to your diet, though, you can bolster your skin barrier - that is, the layer of lipids that holds onto moisture and keeps irritants out.
There is even evidence that the skin-strengthening effects of omega-3s can improve chronic skin conditions like rosacea and atopic dermatitis, but more research is necessary to confirm that link.
Furthermore, many types of fish (like, once again, salmon and cod) are rich in vitamin D - as dermatologists increasingly emphasize sun avoidance, we also need to emphasize the importance of finding other sources of this vitamin, which is produced during sun exposure.
Don't eat fish? Many eggs are now fortified with omega-3 fatty acids, and plant sources include flax seed and flax seed oil, walnuts, pecans, and hazelnuts. And a daily vitamin D supplement is a good idea for vegans and meat-eaters alike.
2. Green Tea: It's inexpensive, easy to add to your routine, and one of the best-researched and most powerful antioxidants around. That's why green tea is my go-to antioxidant: I drink at least three cups a day to fight aging and inflammation. Some studies even suggest that the antioxidants in green tea reduce one's risk of skin cancer. So put down that soda and start drinking your way to healthier skin!
3. Broccoli: Rich in vitamins A, C, and K (among many other nutrients), this veggie does more than its fair share of nutritional work. Vitamin A decreases oil production, vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, and vitamin K can help prevent bruises. So whatever ails you, this green wonderfood might be just what the doctor ordered.
4. Safflower or Sunflower Oil: Omega-3s get a lot more talk, but omega-6 fatty acids - like the linoleic acid in these two oils - are also important for healthy skin. Like omega-3s, they help prevent dry skin and inflammation; they're also essential for the formation of prostaglandins, hormones that keep all the cells of the body functioning well.
While many diets are actually quite high in omega-6s - sometimes even too high - the key is to get the good ones and not unhealthy versions, like hydrogenated oils. So try sautéing your salmon or broccoli in a little safflower or sunflower oil and double those skin-soothing benefits!
5. Almonds: When it comes to boosting skin's defenses against aging, inflammation, and even skin cancer, antioxidants are so important that I'm going to add another to my list: A handful of almonds every day boosts your levels of vitamin E, one of the most important antioxidants for skin health. Studies also suggest that consuming vitamin E orally can increase the levels of this moisturizing vitamin on your skin's surface - great news for anyone prone to dry skin.