Ask a Nutritionist: 5 Foods for Great Skin, i.e. The Beauty Foods!

McKel Hill | March 22, 2016

In our monthly series called, “Ask a Nutritionist,” we ask McKel Hill of Nutrition Stripped, an internationally-known registered dietitian and nutritionist, to answer our health-related queries. Up this week, we asked: What should we be eating to get that pre-summer glow in place?

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No. 1: Avocados

Our digestive health shows up on our skin quite literally. If we’re not absorbing nutrients, our digestive systems go haywire, become inflamed or sensitive to certain foods and our skin is one of the first places that shows.

Avocados are great for easing digestive woes because of the high fiber content and healthy fats that nourish our skin. Healthful fats (like monosaturated ones) reflect healthy hormones, cell eslaticity and nutrient absorption. Those healthy hormones are directly correlated to how your skin looks. Avocados also maintain vitamins C, E, and three antioxidants called beta-carotene, zeaxanthin and lutein that keep free radicals (unstable molecules that cause stress and cell membrane damage) in check.

No. 2: Brazil Nuts

Brazil nuts are high in selenium, which is great for the immune system. It calms inflammation, fights free radical damage (linked to heart disease and cancer) and helps to regulate our thyroids and therefore metabolism. Eating just 1 brazil nut a day (yes, a day!) has you covered.

No. 3: Salmon

Salmon is a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for calming inflammation in our body and providing moisture to our cells. Don’t underestimate the importance of protein with your skin, hair or nails. Consuming enough protein daily is crucial for maintaining lean muscle mass and the integrity of our skin. If you don’t eat salmon, supplement with a high quality omega-3 fatty acid (contains both DHA/EPA), or enjoy plant sources of omega-3’s like walnutschia seedshemp seeds or flaxseed oil.

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No. 4: Raspberries

Raspberries are one of the lowest-in-sugar fruits and they’re loaded with antioxidants that help fight free radical damage. Just like avocados, raspberries are packed with fiber. 1 cup of fresh raspberries has 8g of fiber — that’s about 23% of your daily fiber need.

No. 5: Pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin seeds are high in zinc — a mineral that protects our skin against UV damage and aids collagen production and hair growth. Pumpkin seeds also contain minerals and B vitamins (including biotin), which help promote healthy and strong hair. Pumpkin seeds are a great source of iron, protein, calcium and magnesium, all of which play a role in healthy blood flow to our body and hair follicles. Try sprinkling them on salads, blending them into smoothies, or adding them to granola.

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An added bonus that has nothing to do with food but everything to do with your skin: stress management and the chill pill. Stress makes us breakout because of the hormonal shifts in our body, increases cortisol and can contribute to a decrease in sleep and impaired digestion. If you need a 411 on stress management or burnout, check out this guide to self care and why you should do it.

Finally, find a skincare line you love.

Have anything to add? Weird skin tricks that you consume orally? Tell us! We want to try it!

Created by dietitian nutritionist McKel, the Nutrition Stripped Society is the best healthy meal planning and wellness membership site with exclusive seasonal meal plans, cooking videos, Q&A videos, fitness videos, seasonal detox guides and support with other members across the globe. Join the Society here. You can also follow McKel Hill on Instagram and Twitter.

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  • isabel

    love nutrition stripped and love seeing posts like this on MR!!

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    • Happy you enjoyed it Isabel!

  • Another moment when MR is reading my life or something. I needed this right now. i’ve been stressed, not eating healthy, and my skin is starting to show it.

    • Aydan

      I’ve been so stressed recently too and I realized it was showing everywhere. I’ve taken a step back this week and started yesterday off strong. Trying to stick to things that make my insides and outside feel good, so hopefully my brain will catch up with my body and feel great too!

    • Ditto! Stress causes all kinds of hormonal imbalances which can throw our skin off.

  • Seems simple, but I chug a glass of water before I go to bed and when I wake up so that your skin is prepared for that 8 hours with no hydration. I swear it makes a big difference.

    • Leandra Medine

      so is the trick BEFORE bed? because i drink a liter when i wake up.

      • I think so, that way your body has some h2o to hold it over for the 6-9 hours you’re sleeping and not drinking any liquids. Then the water in the morning rehydrates and prepares you for the day – at least that’s what I’m telling myself, I’m no nutritionist ha!

        • Meg

          I also swear by this (or at least notice a serious difference when I’m off my pre-bed hydration game.)

          • Julie

            But doesn’t drinking that much right before bed make you have to get back up and go pee? I never stop drinking water and always have a glass by my bedside but to chug a whole one at that time would interfere with sleeping. 😛

          • Meg

            No? I’m don’t chug a lot of water at night, more like 12 oz or so when I take my meds. Which science (google) tells me is less than half of what an average adult bladder can hold overnight, which accommodates for however much water is in there before. I go before bed and then when I get up. Note: doesn’t work if I’ve been drinking.

      • Debbie

        Probably both times

    • esther lee

      If i drink water before go to sleep, my face will be edema tomorrow morning T T

    • Debbie

      Personally I haven’t been able to do that yet. Im trying drink 2 cups with meals, in the morning and evening.

    • Yes, water is key for hydrating cells from the inside out (i.e. our skin). As long as you’re drinking water throughout the day (re: morning or night) you’re in good hands!

  • kduck

    I’m a big believer that your skin is a reflection of internal health. So, if my skin is feeling gross, I drink warm water (with lemon if I have it) and/or a few teaspoons of apple cider vinegar with veggie juice. You just have to be careful about not murdering your enamel with all of the acid. I also use diluted vinegar as an astringent at night.

  • Abigail

    wait i have a very good recipe for this crack-like substance with pumpkin seeds (oprah posted this recipe as well so u know it’s real) and i normally toast either brazil nuts or walnuts and add them as well its like trail mix and SO GOOD
    http://www.canyonranch.com/your-health/food-nutrition/cooking-recipes/breads-snacks/pumpkin-crunch

    • Alex

      I love bread. I LOVE bread.

  • l:ly

    what do u do if you hate avocados ugh

    • jellymo

      Sprinkle salt on top, spread on a crusty, grainy bread and you’ll change your mind!!!

      • l:ly

        it’s gonna be a lot of salt l o l

    • Des

      dude… guacamole !

    • Debbie

      Maybe eat nuts instead. Worst case you use it as a mask or as an egg/butter replacer

      • l:ly

        Omg good idea ty

    • Try coconut oil and other healthful fats like nuts, seeds, salmon, grass-fed ghee, etc.

    • Jessica H

      THANK YOU FOR EXISTING I thought I was the only one who just can’t do the avocado thing

      • l:ly

        I AM HERE FOR U AND WITH U. OMFG I THOUGHT I WAS ALONE TOO!

  • Jen

    Love these posts! For a year I had the worst eczema on my hands and every dermatologist told me it was normal and I just had to live with it. I finally changed my diet, eating so many of the foods mentioned in the post and my digestive system totally healed and my eczema went away in less than 2 months. I truly believe you can heal with food!

  • Lucy

    Seaweed! I find if to be a delicious snack, but it is also helpful to keep moisture in my skin and it is rejuvenating – it keeps the skin young.