The best foods for beautiful skin

A smiling blonde woman with freckles and lightly tanned, glowing skin.

Don't ask what your skin can do for you - because it does that every day around the clock anyway. Instead, ask what you can do for your skin. Care, of course, that is our business. But external care is only one building block for beautiful and pure skin. Because creams & Co. unfortunately do not penetrate into the deep skin layers. It is therefore at least as important how we care for our skin from the inside. Therefore, the right foods for beautiful skin are the be-all and end-all.

In this article you will learn which foods you can use to improve your skin's appearance and prevent wrinkles; which beauty foods you can eat and drink to make your skin "beautiful". And vice versa: Which tasty culprits are responsible for many skin diseases. In addition, I'll tell you a simple recipe for a beauty drink. And as is often the case in this blog, we'll dispel a few stubborn myths about blemished skin.

Beautiful skin: What role does the right diet play?

A handful of almonds, a spoonful of walnut oil or a cup of buttermilk? You stumble across hyped superfoods at every (supermarket) corner when it comes to clear skin. But can food make for beautiful skin, really? I say quite clearly: yes, they can. But of course not for every skin condition and also not to every degree of effectiveness. But in fact, blemished skin or rosacea, for example, can be positively influenced by diet.

Skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis or psoriasis also show strong correlations with certain foods. This is because much of what we eat goes into our skin renewal processes as building material. If we eat the wrong things, we may disturb the skin or provide it with too little good material. Our diet just shows on our skin.

Healthy skin needs good food

But let's take another step back: our food ends up in the digestive tract. The stomach and intestines break down food into its tiniest components: Protein, fat and sugar molecules, for example. These enter the bloodstream and from there into the various layers of the skin. New cells are formed from the individual molecules, depending on where there is a need at the time.

3D image of cells in green color.

A supply of good nutrients is therefore absolutely necessary for beautiful and healthy skin. It becomes problematic when we take in the wrong things, too much or too little. The easiest way to explain this is sugar: Foods with a high glycemic index (GI) - for example, soft drinks, pasta, white bread or fast food - are easily digested and cause blood sugar levels to rise very quickly. The body reacts by releasing more insulin so that the body's cells absorb the sugar from the blood.

How does sugar affect the skin?

This in turn has two consequences for the skin: Firstly, the sugar activates sebum production. This means that more sebum is produced, which can lead to skin impurities. Secondly, sugar is a substance that promotes inflammation. In principle, this is not a problem. The body constantly fights inflammation, for example when germs invade through the skin. 

Wrong food for inflammation of the skin

It becomes difficult when there are too many inflammatory reactions at the same time. The immune system then lashes out so much that it also attacks the body's own tissue. This can lead to relapses of acne, atopic dermatitis or psoriasis. Permanent inflammation also leads to premature aging of the skin.

Omega-6 fatty acids are also considered to be pro-inflammatory. They are found in particular in

  • Meat,
  • Butter,
  • Sausage and
  • Inferior edible oils

contain. You should rather avoid them if you suffer from one of the mentioned skin conditions.

Trans fats: The beauty enemies from the pan

Speaking of oils, have you ever let vegetable oil get too hot so that it started to smoke? Then you've produced some pretty unhealthy trans fats. These are normally produced during the industrial manufacture of fat. They are definitely not a friend of the skin. Trans fats attack the cells, promote acne and premature skin aging. And cow's milk, long thought to be so healthy, is actually - allow me to be dramatic - another beauty enemy from the refrigerated aisle. It cranks up sebum production excessively. You can already guess the result: blemished skin or even acne.

Not only too many, but also too few nutrients pose problems for our skin. Symptoms of deficiency are not manifested by pimples, but by a sallow or cracked complexion and dry skin.

Typical signs of deficiency:

  • Inflamed corners of the mouth
  • Skin infections
  • Brittle fingernails

Deficiency symptoms can occur due to diets or a certain dietary style. However, there may also be a disorder in the intestine that causes the body to no longer absorb nutrients properly. With a blood test, a deficiency can be detected quite quickly and then counteracted with the right diet.

So skin care from the inside means to provide the skin with good nutrients and therefore you need indeed the right foods for beautiful skin.

Omega-3 fatty acids: Fatty fish for a radiant complexion

For example, anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids are very important for our skin. Omega-3 fatty acids are supplied by various foods:  

  • Vegetables like avocado, spinach and beans
  • Fatty fish, for example tuna, mackerel, salmon, trout or sardine
  • Nuts
On and around a wooden board are arranged a salmon fillet, avocado, various nuts and oil.

Various oils are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These include:

  • Canola oil,
  • Hemp oil
  • Linseed oil
  • Walnut oil
  • Chia oil

Carbohydrates are also good foods for beautiful skin

It is by no means necessary to do without carbohydrates completely. Complex carbohydrates, as found for example in

  • Boiled potatoes
  • Wholemeal bread
  • Beans
  • Natural rice

are in no way harmful to the skin when consumed in moderation. Overall, a plant-based diet with lots of raw vegetables and little meat is healthier, and not just for the skin. We provide our skin with all the important nutrients it needs: Vitamins, fatty acids, trace elements and minerals. And these are consistently good for the skin.

Food for beautiful skin are colorful

Show courage for color in the design of your plate! Color-intensive plants contain many good things for our skin, such as flavonoids. These are secondary plant substances that have a chemical structural relationship to our body's own hormones.

 As particularly effective antioxidants, flavonoids are our most powerful allies in the fight against skin aging and wrinkles. At the same time, they are the best proof that enjoyment and a healthy diet are perfectly compatible: Study results showed the first indications that flavonoids contained in cocoa and chocolate products as well as in red wine can protect against cardiovascular diseases.

However, reliable studies on the influence of flavonoids on the skin have only been available for a few years. Further studies in this area are necessary in order to be able to make reliable statements.

Red fruits and vegetables contain particularly high levels of lycopene. It belongs to the carotenoids and is found in high concentrations in tomatoes and rose hips. Lycopene is also an antioxidant and kills free radicals. Instead of the proverbial apple a day, we recommend our recipe for the daily "Happy-Skin-Juice" against wrinkles!

Concentrated food power: The juice cure for beautiful skin 

Fresh smoothies and juices are for me the ideal way to supply my body with fruits and vegetables in a time-saving and practical way. A good smoothie is so full of nutrients (vitamins, zinc, iron, etc.) that it can replace an entire meal. At the same time, I have full control over the contents and decide for myself exactly what goes into it. 

My favorite recipe for a "Happy Skin-Juice" shows you that the preparation of such a drink is quite simple. It contains the most important nutrients for healthy skin, is quickly made and requires no elaborate stockpiling and no special equipment. The ingredients are easy to keep on hand in the home or office. And the juice tastes fruity and fresh. 

The HighDroxy Happy Skin Juice 

  • 150 ml freshly squeezed carrot juice (If juicing yourself is too time-consuming: carrot juice from a jar will do, ideally from the baby shelf of relevant drugstore chains. It is gently produced, free of additives and comparatively cheap).
  • Juice of half a lemon, grapefruit or orange (To taste)
  • 1 level teaspoon tomato paste (from the tube especially handy)
  • 1 lightly heaped teaspoon of beet powder (can be bought in health food stores or online, is practical and lasts forever. But be careful: The powder colors magnificently and should be stored in a sealed jar).
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (be sure to use organic quality!)
  • Some vegetable oil (So that the valuable vitamins can be utilized by the body)
  • As needed: a little honey (to neutralize the taste of the apple cider vinegar) or a pinch of grated ginger for more spiciness (and even more antioxidants)
You don't need a blender or a shaker to prepare it, which makes this recipe so suitable for everyday use and the office. Simply pour into a glass in the order given, stir carefully - and you're done. 
Glass with red vegetable juice. In front of it are carrot sticks and beet.

And this is what it does for your skin when you drink this juice: 

  • Carrots and beet provide a large amount of beta-carotene, which improves the skin's own protection against the sun and is also a precursor of the beauty vitamin retinol (vitamin A) - in other words, the best anti-aging from within in two respects.
  • The lycopene contained in tomato paste, also a carotene, is one of the most effective antioxidants. These act against free radicals.
  • Apple cider vinegar is not only excellent in toner against inflammation and impurities of the skin, but also from the inside. Important: A single juice does not make a difference for your skin. Plan to drink this juice daily for at least a month - as a juice cure for your skin. After 2 to 3 weeks you will see and feel the difference: Your skin will be rosier (possibly a little more golden in complexion due to the carotene) and firmer overall.

Beautiful skin: Go for the carrot!

However, there is a small side effect: Your skin will turn slightly orange after a few weeks due to the carrot juice. But don't be angry with your "carrot face". You get a natural sun protection factor of 2 to 3 and can stay longer in the sun. This means less sunburn and slower skin aging.

The island of beautiful skin

Probably the most exotic proof of how much healthy food influences the skin is provided by this small island called Kitava in the Pacific Ocean off Papua New Guinea. In a study, not a single case of acne could be identified among the 1,200 islanders - although this occurs worldwide among all ethnic groups.

The researchers found that the islanders do not eat or drink industrially processed foods. Only unprocessed animal and plant foods from their own production are on the menu. The most important difference to Western eating habits: Kitavaners do not consume high-glycemic carbohydrates, which drive up insulin levels.

Water: the best food for beautiful skin?

How often have I seen this before. A supermodel, optionally also a female Hollywood star, is asked about his secret for young and beautiful skin and answers quite modestly, there is nothing like still water. The ultimate tip is always: drink 3 liters of water a day and beautiful skin is guaranteed. Researchers at the Charité hospital in Berlin have investigated whether this tip is true. Led by Dr. Michael Boschmann, the team investigated the effect of water on the skin.

Study confirms: Water is good for the skin 

The fact that water has a positive effect on the skin actually sounds logical; after all, the skin consists of 80 percent water. One third of our body's liquid reserves are bound up in the skin. Healthy skin needs moisture in order not to lose its elasticity.

And indeed: the researchers at Charité were able to confirm that clear skin benefits from good water consumption. Because when we drink a lot of water, the blood flow to the skin improves. This means that the skin is supplied with more oxygen and its metabolism is stimulated. On the face, this is clearly visible in the form of plumper skin, fewer wrinkles and a healthy, radiant complexion. 

However, the study was able to dispel one myth:

For this effect, the body does not need a whopping 3 liters of water. Half - that is, 1.5 liters - will do. Your body and especially the skin would certainly not complain about 2 liters of water.

Help or humbug: dietary supplements for beautiful skin 

Carrots are rabbit food and vegetables, fish & Co. are also otherwise rather a horror for you? Then you're a sitting duck for the cosmetics industry. In addition to creams and serums, the cosmetics industry also has a number of drinks and dragées full of nutrients that promise magical effects for the skin. The magic word is cosmeceuticals, a portmanteau of the English terms "cosmetics" and "pharmaceuticals. Together, they make up a "cosmetic" in German, so to speak. This booming product category includes not only creams and serums, but also dietary supplements. 

Cosmeceuticals are supposed to be bursting with highly efficient active ingredients. The trick is that they contain just enough of them to fall below the threshold of a drug. This point is enormously important for manufacturers. For drugs, the effect must be proven in independent studies. That is the law. 

Do cosmeceuticals really improve the skin?

And this is exactly where we come to the casus knacktus: Much of what we have already talked about in connection with food for beautiful skin can be found in cosmeceuticals: antioxidants, vitamin E, vitamin A, vitamin B, peptides, collagen or the unsaturated fatty acids. All things that are actually good and right for our skin renewal or for dry skin. 

The only thing is that not a single independent scientific study has yet been able to prove a visible effect of these often quite expensive dietary supplements. References such as "dermatologically tested" mean at best that no skin irritations occurred in the test subjects. 

Fewer wrinkles - but not visible 

In cases where studies are available, one has to look very closely. Not infrequently, the study leaders turn out to be employees of the cosmeceuticals manufacturer who commissioned the study. Or commissioned private institutes or universities actually prove effects, but in an area that can at most be seen with a microscope. But who benefits from wrinkle reduction that cannot be seen with the naked eye? 

"Despite their marketing and extensive use, most cosmeceuticals lack sufficient scientific evidence to support their therapeutic claims," New York University dermatologist Evan Rieder told Der Spiegel. Therefore, one must be wary of "marketing claims that exaggerate evidence, even if the presumed mechanism of action may sound plausible at first," Rieder added. 

Collagen powder: no more than expensive gummy bears

A good example are the currently very popular collagen powders or drinks. Collagen is particularly important for the elasticity of the skin. Manufacturers recommend taking about 2 to 3 grams of collagen daily as a dietary supplement. This costs more than one euro per day. In studies, the manufacturer has allegedly proven the effect. 

The problem is that the studies did not document how much collagen the test subjects consumed in their other food. Collagens are also found in meat, among other things, and are also processed into gelatine. So if you eat a handful of (non-vegan) gummy bears, you are estimated to have consumed just as much collagen as you would in a collagen drink - and spent less money. Apart from that, it is not at all certain that collagen can work at all in this small quantity. After all, about 3600 grams of a 60 kilogram woman consists of collagen. The 2 to 3 grams she would consume would therefore be less than 1 percent. 

Biotin for skin and hair

Another myth is the much vaunted biotin. Yes, it is important for beautiful skin, hair and nails. But our body needs extremely little of it. Deficiency occurs only in very few cases, for example, when there is alcohol dependence or other rare diseases. Taking more biotin than the body needs does not improve the appearance of the skin. 

That's why biotin simply doesn't make sense as a dietary supplement. It can even have a negative side effect: Artificially supplied biotin alters the blood count. If the blood is examined for heart attack markers or hormone abnormalities, the results can be falsified by the dietary supplement. Incidentally, this does not happen with biotin supplied via normal foods, for example mushrooms, oatmeal or eggs.