12 Dietary Habits For Firmer & More Youthful Skin

Healthy skin starts from within!

By: Lexy Parsons

When it comes to achieving youthful, radiant skin (at any age), your diet plays a crucial role. Whether you’re looking to minimize fine lines and wrinkles, firm and tighten your skin, reduce redness and inflammation, or achieve a dewy glow, the foundation for healthy skin begins from within. While skincare products and topical remedies can help, adopting the right dietary habits can support your skin and promote its long-term health and vitality — think of it as the top anti-aging secret! Essentially, these healthy dietary habits help to provide your body with the essential building blocks necessary for skin repair, regeneration, and protection against environmental damage, and all it takes is a little know-how and mindfulness. 

Ready to enhance your skin glow? The top dietary habits for youthful skin ahead. Read on for all you need to know!

Healthy Skin Starts From Within: The Top Dietary Habits For Skin Health

#1 Follow An Anti-Inflammatory Diet

If you’re struggling with acne, rosacea, eczema, or redness, the culprit responsible is none other than inflammation. Linked to a variety of skin conditions, inflammation is a significant contributor to skin aging. The good news is that consuming anti-inflammatory foods can help combat inflammation and promote healthier skin. By opting for whole food sources, you’ll also benefit from added nutrients like antioxidants, vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene! 

Here are some of the best anti-inflammatory sources to consider:

  • Berries, such as strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries
  • Dark leafy greens, such as kale, spinach, and bok choy 
  • Colorful root veggies, such as purple and orange sweet potatoes, carrots, and beets
  • Citrus fruits, such as oranges, lemons, and grapefruit
  • Herbs and spices, such as turmeric, ginger, and garlic

RELATED: 5 Anti-inflammatory Foods You Should Be Eating Regularly

#2 Consider Supplementing With Collagen

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, and a skin-nourishing superstar. It’s used to make connective tissue and is a major component of skin, and therefore plays a vital role in maintaining skin elasticity, moisture, and firmness — seemingly, a key ingredient in the fountain of youth! Although our body naturally produces collagen, the amount we make naturally declines with age. This reduced collagen production can lead to signs of skin aging, such as wrinkles, fine lines, and sagging skin. Fortunately, collagen-rich foods can help provide the amino acids necessary for collagen synthesis, thereby promoting smoother, more youthful-looking skin!

Here are some of the best dietary sources of collagen and collagen-promoting foods to consider:

What About Collagen Skincare Products?

You should also know that not all collagen is created equal. While consumption of collagen-rich foods can help boost collagen synthesis, there’s data that suggests that certain topical collagen fibers are too large to penetrate and absorb into the skin. Essentially, when collagen is applied topically, its molecules may not effectively reach the deeper layers of the skin where collagen synthesis occurs — unless it is in a hydrolyzed form. Therefore, optimizing collagen through your diet is your best bet for improving skin health!

#3 Optimize Your Daily Protein Intake

From boosting metabolism to supporting lean muscle mass, protein is necessary for so many important functions — skin health, included! Primarily, protein is essential for skin repair and regeneration. It provides the building blocks necessary for the production of collagen and elastin, two proteins crucial for maintaining skin structure and elasticity. Not to mention, it’s needed for skin hydration, i.e. the dewy, glowy look we all crave!

Make sure to include lean sources of protein in your diet, including: eggs, poultry, fish, beans, legumes, and lentils.

#4 Boost Your Intake of Healthy Fats

Healthy fats — Omega-3 fatty acids, in particular — are essential for maintaining and optimizing skin health, especially skin hydration and suppleness. These fats help maintain the integrity of the skin barrier, which is essential for retaining moisture and preventing dehydration. As a potent anti-inflammatory, omega-3 fatty acids can also help to reduce redness and irritation associated with inflammatory skin conditions like acne and eczema. And because the body cannot produce polyunsaturated fats on its own, they must be obtained through diet!

To support youthful skin through your diet, aim to include healthy sources of fat such as:

#5 Prioritize Hydration

Hydration is key to maintaining skin moisture and elasticity. Drinking an adequate amount of water throughout the day helps flush out toxins and keeps skin cells hydrated from the inside out. Aim to drink at least eight glasses of water daily, and consider incorporating hydrating foods like cucumbers, watermelon, oranges, and celery into your diet. Herbal teas and coconut water are also excellent hydrating alternatives to water that can contribute to healthy, glowing skin. 

#6 Incorporate Probiotic-Rich Foods

Keeping our gut healthy and happy is one of the best ways to support our skin from within. And thanks to probiotic-rich foods, it’s simple and delicious to do so! According to research, probiotics have a beneficial effect on a variety of skin conditions, including acne, eczema, dry skin, and even sun-damaged skin. They help to improve the skin barrier, balance skin pH, and reduce oxidative stress and the effects of sun damage — impressive. 

Including a daily dose of probiotic-rich foods in your diet (such as yogurt, kefir, kimchi, and sauerkraut) can do wonders for balancing your gut microbiome and supporting your skin. 

#7 Opt For Nutrient-Dense Whole Foods

One of the best things you can do for your skin health (and overall well-being) is to simply opt for nutrient-dense whole foods. Unlike processed foods that have been refined and stripped of their nutrients, whole foods provide a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that not only support overall health, but also provide the essential nutrients needed for maintaining youthful and vibrant skin. If you’re not already, it’s wise to shop the perimeter of the grocery store! It’s here you’ll find whole foods in their freshest form. 

This includes:

  • Colorful fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Legumes
  • Lean proteins
  • Healthy fats

#8 Limit Alcohol Consumption

As a natural diuretic, excessive alcohol consumption can dehydrate the skin, leading to dullness, dryness, and premature aging. Over time, chronic dehydration can contribute to the formation of fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin, quickly accelerating the aging process. Alcohol can also wreak havoc on our skin health by causing systemic inflammation and interfering with the body’s ability to absorb essential nutrients — a recipe that can trigger and exacerbate a variety of skin conditions.

While the occasional drink is nothing to stress over, limiting alcohol intake and opting for healthy mocktails over cocktails can help maintain skin moisture, calm inflammation, and promote a youthful glow!

#9 Avoid Excessive Sodium Intake

Sodium is a sneaky ingredient that is found in so many foods, which is not so great for our skin!  When consumed in excess, sodium can lead to water retention, inflammation, and puffiness — especially around the eyes and face — giving the appearance of dull, tired-looking skin or skin that looks bloated, irritated, and aged.

To maintain healthy, radiant skin, try to limit your consumption of processed foods (which are often loaded with sodium) and always remember to read the ingredient label. Instead, opt for whole, unprocessed foods and season meals with herbs, spices, and other whole foods full of natural flavor

Does this mean you need to cut salt out of your diet completely? Not at all. It’s all about choosing the right type and incorporating it into your diet with mindfulness. While table salt is highly refined, unrefined salts (such as sea salt, Himalayan salt, and Celtic salt) contain essential minerals, including magnesium, potassium, and calcium, which are beneficial for skin health.

#10 Be Mindful of Food Sensitivities and Allergies

Food sensitivities and allergies can manifest in various skin issues, including acne, eczema, and dermatitis. In fact, breakouts, rashes, and inflammatory skin issues are often signs of a deeper imbalance. Be mindful of how your skin reacts to certain foods, and consider eliminating potential triggers if you suspect a sensitivity or allergy. This could be major allergens like dairy, gluten, and eggs, or sensitivities more specific to your body.

Working with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian is a great idea, as it can help identify and manage food-related skin issues!

#11 Eat The Rainbow

If you’re a creature of habit, listen up! While we all have those staple meals we just can’t get enough of, eating the same foods day after day — even if they’re nutrient-dense whole foods — can lead to potential nutrient deficiencies and imbalances in your diet and gut health. Our gut microbiome thrives on variety, so feeding it with a diverse selection of whole foods (i.e. the rainbow!) is ideal. The more color in your diet, the better, as each color represents different vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are crucial for maintaining healthy skin and overall well-being.

#12 Consider Supplementing With Superfoods

While a colorful whole foods diet can go a long way in supporting your skin, incorporating specific superfoods into your diet is an additional step you can take if you want to go the extra mile! Superfoods like goji berries, spirulina, and matcha can provide potent antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that reduce inflammation and support skin regeneration, leading to increased collagen production, skin radiance, and anti-aging benefits.

The Recipe To Glow From The Inside Out

Our skin is a direct reflection of our internal state, so by prioritizing your inner health, your outer appearance will shine. By consuming anti-inflammatory foods, incorporating collagen and superfoods, eating enough protein and healthy fats, optimizing your hydration, and opting for colorful whole foods, you can support your skin’s natural ability to stay firm, youthful, and radiant with ease. Give these simple dietary skin habits a try, and watch your skin and overall health glow.