Dialog Box

Skin Health Institute

Nutrition for Healthy Skin


Feed Your Skin from the Inside Out

The below nutrition advice is brought to you by Ambassador Dr Joanna McMillan, Nutritionist and Vice president of The Australian Lifestyle Medicine Association


There is no doubt that skin care has come a long way and there are many products that can help you to have the healthiest, most vibrant youthful looking skin possible. But there is little point in spending your money on what you put externally on the skin, and lets face it you can spend a small fortune on such products, if you’re not taking care to feed your skin from the inside out.

What you are eating can make an enormous difference to how your skin looks and feels, as well as having an impact on common skin conditions and your risk of skin cancer.If you suffer from acne consider the types of carbohydrate-rich foods in your diet. Australian research has shown that a low GI diet can help reduce the symptoms of acne and improve the quality of your skin. This basically means eating more wholegrains and legumes, and reducing or cutting out processed foods. The knock-on effect is that your overall health will benefit and not just your skin.

For all of us there are key nutrients, antioxidants and other phytochemicals that have been shown to be beneficial or essential for healthy skin. Here are my top 10 foods for skin.

Dr Joanna's Recommended Top 10 Foods for Radiant Healthy Skin

1. Nuts & seeds

Nuts & seeds provide all the right kinds of fat that nourish our skin. They are also rich in the antioxidant vitamin E to combat free radical damage, which contributes to the ageing of your skin.

2. Barley

Australian research has recently shown that a low GI diet containing wholegrains such as barley helps to relieve acne and improve the skin. Barley also provides the antioxidant mineral selenium and good levels of several other vitamins and minerals that play roles in the growth of healthy skin, hair and nails.

3. Tea 

Different teas contain different antioxidants, but they all have the potential for anti-aging benefits. Green tea has even been shown to help rejuvenate skin cells. Tannins in tea can reduce your absorption of minerals in food however, so try to drink your tea between rather than with meals.

Image by David Dewitt at TheCozyCoffee

4. Mussels & oysters

High in protein, good sources of omega-3 fats and the clear front runners for providing zinc, a mineral essential for skin healing and preventing infections. Increased zinc can help acne and other skin conditions, but is also essential for all of us to maintain healthy radiant skin. If you are plagued with dandruff, upping your zinc just might help.

5. Salmon

Oily fish such as salmon are fabulously rich in the essential omega-3 fats. These reduce inflammation and provide essential nourishment to the skin. To gain the benefits you need to eat it a minimum of twice a week. Other oily fish include sardines, mackerel, anchovies and trout. I also recommend taking an additional daily omega-3 supplement otherwise optimal levels are hard to reach. If you suffer from eczema or psoriasis up the dose – there is good scientific backing to show it can help.

6. Carrots

This humble veggie is one of the richest sources of beta-carotene, which acts both as an antioxidant in its own right and can be made into vitamin A, which repairs and maintains healthy skin.

7. Dark green leafy veg

These are a daily must for maximum anti-ageing power. The darker the green the better as this usually indicates higher levels of antioxidants. These fight the free radicals that damage cells and accelerate aging of the skin. One of these antioxidants beta-carotene can also form vitamin A in the body – a common ingredient in face creams for good reason and an essential nutrient for healthy hair. Feed your skin from the inside out and include leafy greens daily and watch your skin bloom. Spinach, silverbeet, kale, rocket, watercress, Asian greens and dark green cabbage varieties all qualify.

8. Avocado

Rich in the essential fats we need to nourish our skin and hair from the inside out and a great source of vitamin E to help protect the skin from aging free radical and sun damage.

9. Berries

They look delectable, they taste divine and they top the charts for antioxidant power. What's not to like about berries?! They are also rich in vitamin C, an antioxidant to combat the ageing process, but also necessary for the building of collagen, the protein that gives skin its elasticity, and strengthens capillaries to help reduce spider veins and easy bruising.

10. Kiwi fruit

We tend to think of citrus fruit as being the best sources of vitamin C, but in fact the kiwi fruit ranks second only to guava but is far more widely available and easy to eat. Vitamin C is essential to make the protein collagen, which gives skin its youthful elasticity, maintain hydration and prevent wrinkles.