Heal Your Skin From Within: The Top Anti-Inflammatory Foods for Skin Health
Turns out, the key to a clear complexion may be as simple as incorporating some anti-inflammatory foods into your diet. So, it's time to take a closer look at what's on your plate - your skin (and your taste buds) will thank you!April 20, 2023 8 minutes read
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Skin care is, so to speak, an internal job, as its appearance is a direct reflection of our overall health. For example, acne, psoriasis, eczema, and other skin conditions, such as dryness, may indicate chronic inflammation, overloading our immune system and making our skin more sensitive to environmental factors and stress.
One way to help your body and skin fight these inflammatory processes is through a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods. These foods will boost your immune system and help your body heal, promoting healthy skin from the inside out.
In today's article, we'll explore some of the best anti-inflammatory foods for skin health, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, and spices. We'll also discuss the science behind their anti-inflammatory properties and how they can help improve skin health. And hopefully, by the end of this article, you'll have a better understanding of how to support healthy, glowing skin through the foods you eat.
The Best Anti-Inflammatory Foods for Healthy, Glowing Skin
In essence, inflammation is a natural response of the body's immune system to injury or infection. However, the problem arises due to chronic inflammation, which contributes to the developing of many diseases, as well as inflammatory skin conditions.
Luckily, you can help your body and your skin by adding some of these foods to your daily menus:
The No.1 on our list today are berries, packed with antioxidants, protecting the skin from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals can lead to inflammation in the body, causing a variety of skin conditions, such as acne, rosacea, and eczema.
Here are some types of berries that are particularly rich in anti-inflammatory compounds:
- Blueberries and blackberries are the so-called super fruit as they are among the richest sources of antioxidants, including anthocyanins and flavonoids [source].
- Strawberries are, perhaps, the best source of vitamin C, which is vital for collagen production and can also protect the skin from damage.
- Raspberries are also rich in vitamin C and antioxidants like quercetin and ellagic acid. These compounds have potent anti-inflammatory properties, protecting the skin and helping it heal.
Therefore, incorporating these delicious fruits into your diet can be a great way to decrease inflammation in your body and promote healthy skin. Berries can be eaten as a snack, added to smoothies or salads, or used as a topping for oatmeal or yogurt.
#2: Fatty Fish
Fatty fish such as mackerel, salmon, and sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids [source]. Omega-3s are healthy fats that can reduce inflammation throughout the body, which, in turn, positively impacts the skin [source].
Besides its anti-inflammatory properties, fatty fish is also a great source of protein as well as vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin D and selenium, which are essential for the maintenance and repair of skin cells.
In addition to its benefits for skin health, consuming fatty fish regularly has been linked to numerous other health benefits, such as improved heart and brain health, reduced risk of stroke, and others.
So, try having fatty fish for lunch at least once a week. These can be prepared in a vaiety of ways: baked, grilled, or pan-fried, served as a main course, or added to salads or pasta dishes.
#3: Leafy Greens
Leafy greens such as spinach, kale, and collard greens are exceptionally high in antioxidants, such as vitamins C, E, and beta-carotene, reducing inflammation and protecting the skin from free radicals.
In addition, leafy greens are also a good source of fiber, supporting healthy digestion and promoting the elimination of toxins from the body. This also has a positive impact on skin health, as toxins in the body can lead to the development of certain skin conditions.
So, color your plate green as often as you can, and enjoy all the health benefits of this super-nutritious food. You can eat leafy greens raw in salads, cooked as a side dish, or added to smoothies or soups. You can also sauté them with garlic and olive oil, both of which offer strong anti-inflammatory effects (more on them a bit later).
Turmeric is a spice used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine to treat an array of inflammatory conditions. It contains curcumin, which has powerful anti-inflammatory properties [source].
Namely, curcumin works by inhibiting the production of pro-inflammatory enzymes, such as cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) and lipoxygenase (LOX), which are involved in the inflammatory response. By reducing the production of these enzymes, curcumin can decrease inflammation in the body.
Thanks to these properties od curcumin, this bright-orange spice is a popular natural remedy for various health conditions, such as arthritis, pancreatitis, inflammatory bowel disease, and even certain types of cancer. Studies also show that it can be effective in the treatment of some skin conditions, such as atopic dermatitis, alopecia, facial photoaging, psoriasis, and vitiligo.
On top of that, turmeric is a versatile ingredient and can be added to a variety of dishes, such as curries, soups, and stews, or taken as a supplement.
#5: Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds contain ample amounts of healthy fats, protein, and fiber, which are necessary for overall health. They are also rich in minerals and vitamins important for skin health as they exhibit anti-inflammatory properties. Some of the most-nutritious nuts and seeds for skin health include:
- Walnuts have a high content of omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, like ellagitannin, ellagic acid, and catechin.
- Almonds contain heaps of vitamins and minerals, like vitamin E, biotin, and magnesium.
- Flaxseeds are rich in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a type of omega-3 fatty acid that is a potent anti-inflammatory agent.
- Chia seeds are another excellent source of ALA and other anti-inflammatory nutrients, such as antioxidants quercetin, myricetin, and kaempferol.
- Hemp seeds also contain omega-3 fatty acids, as well as other anti-inflammatory nutrients like vitamin E and magnesium, sulfur, potassium, zinc, and iron.
- Pumpkin seeds are rich in antioxidants like phenolic acids and flavonoids, and also contain a certain amount of carotenoids and vitamin E.
- Sesame seeds contain sesamin and sesamol, two potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds.
It's worth noting that nuts and seeds are also high in calories, so eat them in moderation as part of a balanced diet. You can eat a handful of nuts and seeds daily as a snack, add them to salads or yogurt, or use them to make nut butters or seed-based dips.
Ginger is an anti-inflammatory spice due to its active compound called gingerol, which has been extensively studied for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties [source]. Thanks to this, ginger has been used for ages as a natural remedy for a variety of health conditions.
Basically, gingerol works by inhibiting protein kinase B (Akt) and decreasing the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which are involved in the inflammatory response. By reducing the production of these cytokines, gingerol decreases inflammatory processes throughout the body.
Ginger can help with various conditions, such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and other inflammatory conditions. Ginger has also been shown to have potential benefits for skin health, such as reducing skin inflammation and promoting wound healing.
Plus, you can add this spicy spice to a variety of dishes, such as stir-fries, soups, teas, and smoothies. You can also take it as a supplement.
#7: Olive Oil
Olive oil, particularly virgin olive oil (cold-pressed and without any additives), is rich in phenolic compounds with strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. One of those compounds is called oleocanthal, which exhibits anti-inflammatory actions similar to those of anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen [source].
Besides this, olive oil is filled with healthy fats – with oleic acid (omega-9 fatty acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid or MUFA), accounting for 50-80% of its total fatty acid content. Studies suggest that oleic acid may be beneficial in fighting inflammatory-related diseases, including inflammation and redness associated with acne.
Furthermore, olive oil contains some vitamins and minerals beneficial for skin health, such as vitamin E, vitamin K, and potassium. These nutrients prevent oxidative stress in the body and aid it in warding off free radicals damage.
All in all, olive oil can be effective in reducing inflammation in a variety of conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, metabolic syndrome, as well as inflammatory skin conditions. Olive oil can be used for cooking, as a salad dressing, or as a dip for bread.
Garlic contains sulfur compounds, such as allicin, an oily liquid that gives garlic its distinct smell and that exhibits anti-inflammatory properties [source]. Besides reducing inflammation, allicin is also a strong antioxidant and anti-bacterial agent. All of this makes garlic the oldest natural remedy for many inflammatory ailments, skin-related and otherwise.
On top of that, allicin also helps the body to produce more collagen, giving garlic anti-aging properties as well. Collagen is the skin's structural framework that degrades as we age, resulting in wrinkles and sagging skin.
You can incorporate garlic into your diet in so many ways:
- Add minced or chopped garlic to sautéed vegetables, soups, stews, and stir-fries.
- Roast whole garlic cloves in the oven and use them as a spread on bread or as a flavoring for mashed potatoes or other dishes.
- Use garlic as a seasoning for meats, poultry, and fish. Rub minced garlic into the surface of the meat before cooking, or add it to the marinade or sauce.
- Make garlic butter by mixing minced garlic with softened butter. Spread it on bread, use it to flavor pasta, or to sauté vegetables.
- Add raw minced garlic to salad dressings, dips, and spreads, like hummus or guacamole.
- Make a garlic-infused oil by heating olive oil with garlic cloves in a saucepan. Use the oil for sautéing or as a flavoring for salads or pasta dishes.
Or you can eat it plain raw if your stomach and your family members (hello, bad breath) can handle it. And while garlic is considered a healthy food that can benefit skin health, it's important to note that some people may be sensitive to it and experience allergic reactions. Additionally, consuming too much garlic can lead to digestive issues in some people.
Avocado can improve skin elasticity and is considered an anti-inflammatory food due to several components it contains:
- Healthy fats: Just like olive oil, avocados are rich in the so-called good fats, like monounsaturated fats (like oleic acid) and polyunsaturated fats [source], lowering levels of inflammatory markers in the blood as well as bad (LDL) cholesterol.
- Antioxidants: Avocado contains a range of antioxidants, including carotenoids like zeaxanthin and lutein, as well as vitamin E and vitamin C, which have anti-inflammatory properties [source]. These antioxidants protect the body against oxidative stress, which can trigger inflammation.
- Fiber: Avocado is an excellent source of fiber, which reduces inflammation by feeding the beneficial bacteria in your gut. These bacteria ferment fiber in the large intestine, producing short-chain fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory effects.
Overall, avocado's combination of healthy fats, antioxidants, fiber, and phytochemicals makes it a super-nutritious anti-inflammatory food. Avocados can be eaten as a snack or added to a variety of dishes, such as salads, smoothies, or sandwiches.
#10: Zinc-Rich Foods
Zinc is an essential mineral neccesary for many functions in the body, including our skin. Zinc has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties [source], and it's also involved in the production of collagen, which is important for skin elasticity.
Here are some of the best zinc-rich foods that can benefit skin health:
- Shellfish, such as oysters, crabs, and mussels, are among the richest sources of zinc. A single serving of oysters can provide up to 500% of the recommended zinc intake.
- Beef is a good source of zinc, particularly grass-fed beef.
- Pumpkin seeds are a good plant-based source of zinc, and they are also high in other vital nutrients, such as magnesium and fiber.
- Chickpeas are another excellent source of plant-based protein and fiber, and they are also a good source of zinc.
- Spinach is an excellent source of zinc, as well as other important nutrients, such as iron and vitamin C.
Zinc can also be taken as a supplement. But you should consult with your health care provider before taking any new dietary supplementation.
All in all, incorporating anti-inflammatory foods into your diet will help your body better deal with inflammatory processes, leading to improved overall health as well as the health of your skin. Berries, fatty fish, leafy greens, turmeric, nuts and seeds, ginger, olive oil, garlic, avocado, and zinc-rich foods are all excellent choices for promoting healthy skin.
So, try making your dishes with these foods on a regular basis. Remember, a healthy diet is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to optimal skin health. It's also important to stay hydrated, get enough sleep, and protect your skin from the sun.
What is the fastest way to reduce inflammation in the skin?
You can take an oatmeal bath or use a cool compress for faster relief of skin inflammation, irritation, and redness. However, to help your skin in the long run, you should consider eating a well-balanced diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods, like garlic, avocado, ginger, and others.
Do anti-inflammatory foods help the skin?
Yes, anti-inflammatory foods, such as foods rich in zinc, nuts and seeds, garlic, olive oil, turmeric, and berries, can calm chronic inflammatory processes throughout the body, including your skin.
What is the number 1 inflammatory food?
The No 1. food group that can cause inflammation in your body is processed foods, including sugar, processed meat, and refined grains, such as white bread and white rice. Also deep-fried and fast food should be avoided.
What fights inflammation in the skin?
If you have serious inflammatory skin conditions caused by bacteria or fungus, it would be best to visit a dermatologist and get appropriate therapy. However, eating foods rich in anti-inflammatory compounds can help you prevent these inflammations from recurring.
What fruit is good for skin inflammation?
Generally, eating fresh fruits daily can help your overall health as well as your skin. But, some of the best anti-inflammatory fruits would be berries, as these contain the highest amount of vitamin C and other vitamins and antioxidants.