Glow from the Inside Out: How to Get Better Skin

From destination weddings to beach trips to rooftop soirees, summer is stacked with special occasions to show off your skin.. But don’t wait for warmer weather to focus on improving your skin’s appearance—it’s something you can and should work on all winter long, so that your skin will look great when bikini and backless dress season finally rolls around..

If you want a more gorgeous glow, your goal should be to minimize “oxidative stress”—in short, an imbalance between free radicals and the antioxidants that counteract their cell-damaging, skin-aging effects on the body. This means avoiding prolonged sun exposure (which may be easier this time of year!), using SPF, not smoking, getting adequate sleep, and limiting the amount of stress in your life. Beyond these healthy habits, your diet can also help curb levels of oxidative stress.

“When you choose foods that are nutrient-dense and in combinations that provide stable energy, you will feel great on the inside—and this will reflect on the outside,” says Amanda Carlson-Phillips, vice president of performance nutrition and research at EXOS. Here are four food strategies to get your skin ready for summer.

Fight inflammation with omega-3s, antioxidants, and fiber

Glow from the Inside Out: How to Get Better Skin

While chronic inflammation has been linked to diseases like diabetes and cancer, when it comes to your complexion, it may also play a role in the development of wrinkles and fine lines, redness, puffiness, and other issues.

Fortunately, omega-3-rich foods, like walnuts, flax seeds, and fatty fish help keep inflammation levels in check. (Bonus: Their fatty acids can help prevent dry skin.) Same goes for high-fiber grains (think quinoa, kamut, and barley), beans, and legumes with at least 3g of fiber per serving. These pantry staples help stabilize energy levels, which can stabilize hormone levels and keep inflammation in check. High-antioxidant foods like tea, berries, cherries, and pomegranate are also inflammation fighters.

The foods you don’t eat play just as big a role in the fight against chronic inflammation. Limit trans fats and omega-6 fatty acids, added sugar and artificial sweeteners, refined grains, processed meats, and artificial colors and flavors.

Optimize hydration by thinking beyond the water bottle

Glow from the Inside Out: How to Get Better Skin

Drinking plenty of H20 is a no-brainer when it comes to healthy skin. Each day, strive for at least .5 to 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight. If you weigh 140 pounds, for example, aim for 70 to 140 ounces of water. Naturally non-caloric beverages such as green tea count, too, but stick to mostly water.

But don’t forget about hydrating foods, too. Veggies like cucumbers, celery, lettuce, and tomatoes are made up of mostly water and are also very low in calories and high in a variety of skin-health-supporting nutrients (more on these in a minute).

Remember that the holidaysyour special occasion might be fighting against you. Airplane travel, alcohol, and being away taking a break from your regular routine—these  can all negatively impact hydration. Plan ahead by bringing your water bottle to fill up frequently—and think before you drink.

Get in tune with your gut health

Glow from the Inside Out: How to Get Better Skin

On the day of a special occasion, it’s a good idea to avoid bloat-inducing foods, like beans, broccoli, carbonated beverages, or foods you know from experience do a number on your stomach. We are all different, and our bodies tend to tell us when they don’t care for a particular food.

It’s also important to think about your gut health in the days, weeks, and even months leading up to a big day (and for the rest of your life).

Why: A healthy gut helps you absorb more nutrients—including the ones that make your skin look better—from the foods you eat and supplements you take. To boost the amount of good bacteria in your gut, reach for fermented foods like kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, and kimchi, consider taking a probiotic supplement, and limit your intake of processed foods.

ID food allergies and sensitivities

Glow from the Inside Out: How to Get Better Skin

If you’re struggling with a condition like acne, rosacea, or eczema, your diet may be one of the culprits. “Food intolerance or allergies can play a role in breakouts and other chronic skin issues,” says Carlson-Phillips. You can thank your immune system for this one—if you’re sensitive, allergic, or intolerant to a certain food, your body will set off an inflammatory response. Enter redness, rashes, and blemishes.

If you suspect an underlying intolerance or allergy is making your skin turn against you, talk to your doctor, who may recommend eliminating certain foods for particular periods of time in order to pinpoint the problem.

Cheat Sheet

Ready to work the above nutrients into your skin-healthy diet? Screenshot the below list and take it with you on your next grocery store run. A salad is a no-brainer way to incorporate a variety of foods and nutrients into a single meal, and one that won’t require you to turn on the stove when it’s 85 degrees outside.

  • Antioxidants: Aim for a variety of highly pigmented fruits and vegetables
  • Vitamin A: Carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, mangoes, papaya
  • Vitamin C: Kiwi, bell peppers
  • Vitamin D: Fatty fish, egg yolks
  • Vitamin E: Sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach
  • Prebiotics and probiotics: Yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha
  • Omega-3s: Fatty fish (like tuna and salmon), walnuts, flax seed and flax seed oil
  • COQ10: Beef, chicken, trout, peanuts
  • Zinc: Nuts and seeds, seafood, oysters
  • Curcumin: Foods that contain the spice turmeric. You can also add turmeric to eggs, roasted vegetables, or even a smoothie.