Eating Your Way to a Clearer Complexion

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By Mia Johnson
Freelance writer & Fitness Expert
Sydney, Australia

If you’re like most people, you probably care about your skin health and your complexion. Not everyone is blessed with perfect skin from the get-go, sometimes you have to work hard to keep it looking young and healthy. There’s only so much you can do with products and treatments, which is why it helps to start from the bottom up. 

Your diet has the most effect on what your skin will look like. When you have a balanced set of vitamins and nutrients, coupled with some antioxidants, you can expect your skin to start looking even better. Don’t know where to start? Here are some of the best foods to improve complexion and skin health. 

  • Oily fish

If your skin is oily and prone to breakouts, oil is probably the last thing on your mind. After all, it makes sense that oil would cause an increase of oily substances in your skin, right? However, this isn’t quite how it works. The sebum in your skin doesn’t come from the amount of oil in your body. Certain types of oil actually help strengthen your skin and improve complexion. Fish oils are chief among them for skin health.

There are many reasons why fish oil improves a person’s skin. For starters, this oil contains lots of biotin. This is a B vitamin that is essential for metabolizing amino acids and producing fatty ones. Amino acids form the building blocks of our cells, including the ones in our skin. When they aren’t properly integrated with the skin, this weakens it. It’s not uncommon for people with a deficit of this vitamin to have scaly skin. It’s not a desirable option for anyone that wants to improve the look of their skin.

  • Water

Water isn’t exactly considered “food”, but it’s important enough to warrant a special mention. Everyone knows that water is essential for skin health. It’s why so many people often remind others to drink lots of water to stay hydrated. However, the extent to which water helps keep skin healthy shouldn’t be underestimated.

Improving your hydration is the single best thing you can do for your skin. To start, it helps give skin elasticity and turgor, which are easily noticeable. Flaking is reduced by giving skin the water it needs to keep its cells functioning. Plus, water helps in all sorts of ways throughout your body, which can reflect itself on the skin. 

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  • Oats

Oats are pretty divisive food. Some people swear by them and eat them every single day along with their breakfast, while others aren’t really keen on eating them. The latter group feel that they are crude and tasteless, which makes them basically inedible. However, opinions would swiftly change if people knew how good oats were for the skin.

Oats provide the body with a plentiful supply of selenium, an antioxidant that is especially active in skin cells. It helps prevent their damage and skin is able to replenish itself in a more manageable way. Oats also contain prebiotics, which helps stimulate healthy digestion. It’s a lot like probiotics, but it also helps the immune system properly adapt, thus preventing inflammation. 

  • Watermelon

Fruit will, in general, have a very positive effect on your skin. This is because the fruit is mostly made up of water. Eating a lot of fruit will keep you well-hydrated and your skin will be prevented from getting too dry. As its name suggests, watermelon ranks even higher when it comes to water content. Just two cups of cubed watermelon equal one cup of regular water. It’s like you’re drinking water and healthy nutrients at the same time.

Watermelon also boasts some nice vitamin content. It contains lots of vitamin C and beta-carotene. Both of these are great for your skin. The vitamin C acts as an antioxidant, protecting the cells in your skin. Beta-carotene is found in carrots, and it gives a tiny boost to the skin’s colour. Plus, it helps keep skin healthy and firm. 

  • Whole grains

There isn’t much debate when it comes to processed vs food with whole grains. The whole grain clearly comes out on top with its various health benefits. Grains like buckwheat and wheat germ have lots of skin-feeding nutrients that might interest anyone looking to improve their skin complexion and health. 

They all contain lots of biotin, which is a vitamin that stimulates hair, nail, and skin growth. This means it helps skin regenerate faster and makes for a much healthier look. Bread made from whole wheat also has tons of selenium, something everyone could use in their diet. It’s especially good for protecting your skin from oxidative damage.

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  • Olive oil

Would it surprise anyone that olive oil would be good for the skin? At this point, it seems like olive oil is the ideal superfood. The substance is seemingly good for just about every part of our body, including the skin. You’ve probably seen it here and there in skin products. However, what is it that olive oil does? How does it keep the skin healthy?

Olive oil contains important polyphenolic compounds that protect cells from disruption. They also improve blood flow in the peripheral tissues, such as skin. This helps bring nutrients to the skin and keep it alive. These healthy fruits are also packed with antioxidants, which have already been established as being good for the skin. The nutritional value of olives can’t be disregarded. They contain good fats that help keep the skin healthy and shining well.

Next time you’re making Greek salad, remember not to go easy on the olive oil. Your skin will be thankful for it. 

  • Garlic

Everyone’s favorite cooking ingredient has one more trick up its sleeve. If you don’t mind the strong smell that goes along with it, eating garlic can be extremely beneficial to your skin. A clove or two per day is more than enough to show some great improvements in skin health.

Spices like garlic and ginger are great at reducing substances called glycation end products, also known as AGEs. These compounds are responsible for quite a bit of damage to the skin, which is why slowing their build-up is beneficial and can improve skin health.

  • Grapes

Another representative of fruit shows its true colors when it comes to protecting and preserving skin. Grapes have proven themselves to be pretty good at maintaining skin health. All three colors of grape provide the skin with some protective nutrients that prevent its breakdown. 

Red and black grapes have a lot of ellagic acid and resveratrol within them, and these substances provide the skin with a great protective combo against degradation. They combat oxidative stress and keep the skin cells from getting damaged. However, there is apparently more to it. Even grapes that are low in these compounds are shown to improve skin, which means there are some more things that grapes contain that have yet to be identified.

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  • Leafy greens

Parents always warn kids that they should eat their leafy greens to stay healthy. These words have merit, as leafy greens provide our bodies with some very healthy substances. Some of these are especially healthy for our skin.

Leafy greens contain lots of carotene compounds that go into creating skin cells. Substances like lutein and zeaxanthin are essential for the protection of skin. They keep the cells hydrated and keep oxidative damage at bay. 

The great thing about leafy greens is that you can put them in just about anything. They’re usually made into salads, but there’s a lot more than you can do with them. You can sauté them and even put them in sandwiches. Some people even use leafy greens for their healthy morning smoothies. It would be quite the breakfast for your skin. 

  • Shellfish

Other than being delicious, what are shellfish good for? A surprising number of things, actually. Shellfish contain many compounds that are beneficial for our bodies, including our skin. Both oysters and shrimp are pretty good for our complexion, as it turns out.

They contain zinc, which is an essential element for keeping skin healthy. It boosts the immune system in the skin and this helps prevent damage from metabolites and other sources. Boosting the immune system is pretty good in general, as well. The benefit to the skin is a nice positive side-effect.

It helps that shellfish are also pretty healthy in terms of protein content. Skin needs lots of protein to rebuild itself every other day. With its lower calories, shellfish are a good source of healthy protein. 

  • Tomatoes

People’s favorite ketchup ingredient boasts some wonderful health benefits. Who could have thought that tomatoes would be good for the skin? Nutritionists have known this for quite a while. However, tomatoes also contain substances that directly impact our complexion by adding a little bit of colour. 

This is due to the lycopene contained in tomatoes. It’s a pigment that is normally found in the skin, but in smaller amounts. Increasing it does wonders for your skin. For starters, it improves colour and gives a healthier glow. Alongside the colour, you also get some UV and oxidative protection. If that weren’t enough, it also neutralizes free radicals that come from damage by the sun. 

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  • Eggs

The common egg might not seem like much of a superfood, but it most certainly is. It’s one of the healthier sources of protein and cholesterol, which already makes it great for breakfast. However, eggs are also pretty good for the skin, even when you disregard the protein they give.

They contain lots and lots of lutein, which helps in skin hydration and firmness. Plus, they help stimulate the flow of our natural oil, preventing it from backing up. 

  • Mangoes

Turns out that fruit is especially good for skin health. Examples like mangoes contribute towards proving this theory right. Other than their amazing water content, mangoes also help with keeping skin elastic and healthy.

This is because they are loaded with beta carotene. It’s one of the most important compounds for skin health and anything that contains it is going to be great for the complexion. To keep your skin extra healthy, mangoes also contain vitamin A. Cells will regenerate at a much healthier rate if you add some mango to your diet. 

  • Whey protein

When you think of whey protein, you’re probably imagining muscle gains being the main benefit. After all, it’s mostly athletic people eating as much whey as possible to support their muscle growth after working out. However, whey has some more hidden benefits under its sleeve.

Did you know that whey protein powder shakes are pretty good for your skin? The protein helps skin regenerate faster and more efficiently. Collagen is mostly protein, after all, and it needs a steady supply of amino acids to be built. Whey protein has free amino acids as well, speeding up this process and making it more efficient.

  • Sunflower seeds

Sometimes, a quick snack is all you need to improve your skin health. Sunflower seeds are a good example. Nuts and seeds alike are very good for your skin health and elasticity. This is especially true for sunflower seeds. 

This is because they contain vitamin E, which helps protect the skin. It’s also been shown to improve circulation and reduce the risk of heart disease, which means it’s even better for long-term skin health. It helps that you can put sunflower seeds in just about anything. They’re great as a quick snack and you can sprinkle a few in any meal that you feel might benefit from the texture. 


Everyone wants to have skin that is worth admiring. Sometimes it takes a little more effort than you might have expected, but it’s always manageable. Starting with your diet, you could make some major improvements in your skin health by just ingesting the right food. With some of these examples in mind, start cooking up some healthy meals and include as many pro-skin foods as you can. You’re going to be shocked by the positive results that come soon after.

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