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Tara Miller, a Toronto-based holistic nutritionist and founder of Health Hut, says beauty products can only do so much. "For long-lasting true healing, you need to look at the inside as well." From her experience, a change in eating habits can offer skin improvements in as little as three to 10 days, though long-term changes will lead to better long-term success.
Here are some key things she recommends eating and eliminating for healthy, glowing skin.
Load up on fruits and veggies.
The antioxidants found in brightly coloured fruits and vegetables do more than promote your health inside. "Antioxidants help with any free radical damage like sun damage or pollution or even wind that does long-term harm to your skin," explains Miller. They also have natural anti-aging properties. Vitamin C—which is found in high levels in oranges, kiwi, bell peppers and broccoli—is essential for collagen formation, which means it can help with preventing sagging and wrinkles, says Miller.
Get healthy fats.
If your skin needs moisturizer to help with dryness, you probably aren't moisturizing enough from the inside, says Miller. To achieve lush, hydrated skin, she recommends getting a good dose of healthy fats—particularly omega-3s. Be sure to include plenty of fish, nuts, seeds and avocado in your diet. "It's making sure your cells are being moisturized from within," says Miller.
Drink water, and drink some more.
Of course, fats aren't the only key to hydration; water is vitally important. "If you have really dry skin, it's internal dehydration as well," says Miller. She recommends drinking water throughout the day, and matching each cup of coffee or tea with a glass of water to counteract any diuretic effects.
No matter how many skin-healthy foods you're eating, if you have poor digestion, you'll never see the benefits on your face. That's where probiotics come in. "The balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut is central to all health," says Miller. Eating probiotic-rich foods (a.k.a. those populated with healthy bacteria) helps to ensure that your digestion is in good working order and your body can therefore absorb all of those beautifying nutrients. To give yourself a probiotic boost, try fermented foods like kimchi and kombucha, as well as yogurt.
Cut out common culprits.
Miller says many of us experience skin troubles—such as acne, dullness or eczema—because of an underlying food sensitivity. No matter how much healthy fats and antioxidants you're getting, this trigger food will overtake your battle for beautiful skin. If you're struggling with a skin issue, Miller recommends experimenting with eliminating wheat or dairy from your diet (give it about 10 days) because these two foods are some of the most common causes of trouble. If that doesn't solve the problem, see a naturopath to get a food sensitivity blood test or spend some time listening to your body. "If you feel gassy, bloated or tired after eating, chances are that food could be bothering you, which could then be aggravating a skin condition," says Miller.
Detoxify for your face.
Does acne tend to form around your chin or jawline? Chances are hormones are to blame, says Miller. She says that giving your liver a little boost in its natural detoxification process can help to balance those hormones. Miller recommends trying milk thistle or turmeric to help support your liver's detoxification.
And no matter what skin issues you face, we can all benefit from ridding our diets of processed foods. "Processed foods can wreak havoc on our digestive systems," says Miller. "If you eat a balanced variety of whole, clean foods, your face will express that."
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