Are You What You Eat?

How diet affects complexion.

The adage “you are what you eat” rings true regarding skincare. For insight, nutritionist Natalie Rosenstock, MS, RD, weighs in on the intersection between cuisine and complexion.

Q: What are some skin super foods?

A: Eggs, kale, nuts and oysters do wonders for the skin. Eggs provide a good source of vitamin A, granting anti-aging and anti-acne properties. They also offer protein for cellular skin repair and growth, and some eggs now contain omega 3 fatty acids, helping to moisturize the skin. Kale is loaded with vitamins and nutrients, while nuts offer essential fatty acids and anti-inflammatory properties. Lastly, oysters represent the best dietary source of zinc. Essential for wound healing, the mineral reduces scarring and deters acne, eczema and psoriasis. Zinc also provides B-complex vitamins and vitamin C, which promotes collagen production.

Q: Which foods tarnish the complexion?

A: Refined carbohydrates— carbs processed to remove their fiber— lead to a spike then subsequent drop in blood sugar. This can stress and inflame the skin. White rice, sugar, juice, soda, bagels, pretzels and chips represent refined carbohydrates.

Q: How do omega 3 and 6 play a role in skin’s look and feel?

A: Omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids are essential fatty acids (EFAs). EFAs must be in the diet because the body does not produce them naturally. Consuming EFAs reduces stress to the skin and slows aging. While they’re anti-inflammatory, EFAs also help skin cells to regulate fluid and the passage of nutrients. To reap comprehensive health benefits, consume an about 1:1 ratio of omega 6 to 3. Sources of omega 3 fatty acids include walnuts, flaxseed and oily fishes, such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring and cod. In oil-based salad dressings, we often get sources omega 6, including safflower oil (the richest natural source), and corn, sunflower, sesame, soybean and walnut oil. Whereas olive oil lacks the healthy omega 3 fat of seafood, it bolsters the anti-inflammatory effects of omega 3. Olive oil also ups the suppleness of skin and helps combat free radicals that quicken the signs of aging.

Q: How many glasses of water should a person drink each day?

A: At least eight. Water assists in ushering out toxins. Water also hydrates and moisturizes the skin.

Smoothie for the Skin

  • 1 Tbsp. flaxseed oil
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup Fage 0% Total yogurt
  • 1 cup ice
  • ½ cup acai juice
  • Splenda or honey to taste for sweetness

According to Rosenstock, blueberries have the highest antioxidant level of any fruit. Yogurt serves as an anti-inflammatory due to its probiotics, or good bacteria. Flaxseed offers omega 3 fatty acids, and acai offers antioxidants, amino acids and essential fatty acids. Drink up to better health, inside and out.