Your skin is your body’s largest organ, and what you eat and drink feeds it. If your diet is lacking, your skin will show it...

When it comes to your skin, you really are what you eat.

There’s much evidence to support that eating antioxidant-rich, healthy foods not only improves your health, but also reflects positively on your skin, giving you a more youthful, fresh appearance.

What’s more, one study found that people with a healthy glow to their skin were more attractive and desirable to others. Researchers reported in the International Journal of Primatology that the colour of a person’s skin “affects how healthy and therefore attractive they appear”.

The researchers used specialist computer software and asked a group of people to manipulate the skin colour of male and female faces to make them look as healthy as possible. What they found was that most people chose to increase the rosiness, yellowness and brightness of the skin.

“Skin that’s slightly flushed with blood and full of oxygen suggests a strong heart and lungs, supporting our findings that rosier skin appears healthier,” the researchers concluded.

Foods to eat for a healthy glow
How does one achieve this healthy glow that’s not only a sign of good health, but attractiveness too?

Fortunately, the solution may be fairly simple – eat more fruits and vegetables.

One study found that fruit and vegetable consumption is directly related to changes in how red or yellow the skin appears. The researchers monitored the fruit and vegetable intake of 35 people over six weeks and found that skin redness and yellowness increased with more fruit and vegetable consumption.

This was further confirmed by another study in Evolution and Human Behaviour, which found that eating vegetables can give you a healthy tan. The study showed that eating a healthy diet rich in fruit and vegetables can actually provide your skin with a healthy golden glow – even more so than the sun. The research furthermore showed that the more portions of fruit and vegetables consumed each day, the more golden your skin colour becomes.

This could possibly be attributed to substances called carotenoids, antioxidants that soak up damaging compounds produced by the stresses and strains of everyday living.

So, to ensure you’re feeding your skin with the best possible foods, indulge in these skin-friendly foods on a daily basis:

    • A wide variety of fruits and vegetables, including more dark green and orange vegetables such as spinach and carrots.

    • Calcium-rich foods such as legumes and nuts and some dairy.

    • Low-fat or lean meats, poultry and fish.

    • Healthy fats such as salmon, mackerel and other fatty fish.



Foods to avoid
While natural foods such as fruits and vegetables can contribute to a healthy glowing skin, others can drain the colour and contribute to spots and patchy skin, generally having an unfavourable reaction that shows in the skin.

These foods tend to include:

    • Alcohol: Apart from the fact that alcohol is a diuretic, which dehydrates the skin and can make wrinkles and lines appear more pronounced, binge-drinking often goes hand-in-hand with hangover-busting junk-food binges, which have an extremely negative effect on the skin.

    • Sugar: Foods with a high sugar content raise the blood-sugar levels, which in turn can weaken the skin by affecting collagen, leading to wrinkles.

    • Foods high in salt: This can cause water retention and the appearance of bloating.

    • Too much dairy: Some people react badly to a diet with too much dairy.

    • High GI foods: A diet high in starchy foods such as white breads, pastas and cakes causes blood-sugar spikes and has been linked to acne.



Image via Thinkstock

Sources:
- You are what you Eat, EurekAlert: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-03/plos-yaw030512.php
- Looking good on greens, EurekAlert: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-01/uon-lgo011111.php
- Skin colour gives clues to health: EurekAlert: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-11/s-scg111609.php
- What to eat for glowing, healthy skin, Science Daily: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071109201438.htm