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Diet and Skin

We know that diet affects your erectile strength, your arteries, your testosterone, but what about your appearance?  Can you prevent or accelerate wrinkling based on how you eat?  The answer is a definitive “yes” based on many studies.  The results of this research, somtimes referred to as the Monash Study, are basically this simple:  anything in the Mediterranean Diet is good for the skin and anything outside of the Mediterranean Diet is bad for the skin.[2]  The only items a little on the fringes of the Mediterranean Diet were eggs, and, as I mention below, researchers have since found that the Lutein and Zeaxantin (found in eggs and spinach) are extremely skin protective.

I was shocked at how much of a difference eating right made on my skin.  In my case, I literally saw years melt off of my appearance and cannot encourage you enought to give it a try.  In fact, what was remarkable to me is that did not just slow aging, but it actually healed my skin and I saw a decrease in wrinkles.  Of course, that doesn’t last forever:  I’m not saying you’re going to look like you just went through puberty.  But try it:  you’ll be shocked at the results.

Below I give you some of the major foods to eat and/or avoid in order to do the same and we’ll look at a few supplements as well:

  1. Vitamin C.  It is best to get this from the diet as Vitamin C Can Be Dangerous.  But it is important to get a decent dose of Vitamin C as it is critical for collagen formation, which is the foundation of your skin.  One recent study found that Vitamin C protects DNA by fibroblast stimulation as well. [10] In fact, researchers think it may actually help to actually heal the skin.  One ACJN study (of women but the same will undoubtedly apply to men) found that partcipants with the highest levels of Vitamin C were 11% less likely to look wrinkled. [12] This may not seem like a big number, but when you consider that it is just one factor, it is actually quite impressive.
  2. Legumes and Vegetables. Lots of dietary legumes and vegetables were associated with less skin aging and damage. [2]
  3.  Lutein and Xeaxanthin. Spinach, kale and egg yolks all have an abundance of these two phytochemicals.  Spinach and kale, according to one recent study, had near miraculous results on the skin.  The study showed “increasing skin hydration by 60 percent, skin elasticity by 20 percent and the amount of superficial lipids present in the skin by 50 percent after adjustment for placebo, all while decreasing the oxidation of those beneficial lipids by 64 percent”. These can even protect your skin from sun damage! [1]
  4. Evelle. There is a supplement, Evelle, with clinically proven results to improve skin elasticity and roughness. [8] And it is no wonder, they put many known antioxidants and skin-improvers into one pill including Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Pycnogenol, Biotin, Zinc and Tomato Extract among others.
  5. Saturated Fats and Meat.  Avoid these bad boys:  they were associated with additional skin wrinkling.
  6. Sugar.  Table sugar is composed of a molecule of fructose and a molecule of glucose and both are hard on the skin.  A good skin formula to keep in mind is Sugar=Wrinkles[2]  It is no wonder as researchers have found that both glucose and fructose increase the formation of these Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs). What are AGEs?  These are simply by products of digestion and the problem is that sugars, especially fructose, rapidly accelerate the pace of these AGEs.  Even worse for your appearance is the fact that these Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs) actually damage your collagen, which is backbone, if you will, of your skin. This has actually been demonstrated in a study on rats where they fed the animals a control diet and a fructose diet and then did extractions from the skin. [8]
  7. Fish.  Fish was found to be skin protective. [2]  And why not?  Fish helps with just about everything else from the heart to the brain.  Read this great link on the Omega-3 Connection to Skin Protection.
  8. Berries.  One phytochemical in berries, elagic acid, was given to mice and found to be photoprotective against UVB radiation. [14]  I am unsure what dosage this translates to but this wonder chemical decreased wrinkles, decreased inflammation, promoted collagen and thickened skin, all Holy Grails of the skin care world.
  9. Tea, Prunes and Apples.  These nutritional powerhouses were associated with less skin wrinkling. [2]  Probably any dark colored fruit or vegetable packed with antioxidants and flavanoids like these will have the same effect.
  10. High Flavanol Cocao.  One study (on women) showed that high (and not low) flavanol cocao thickened skin, increased skin hydration and protected against UV damage. [15]
  11. Lycopene.  The lycopene in tomato sauce, tomato paste and ketchup has been shown in one study to be very protective of your skin from sun damage. [9] Researchers gave participants shown in one study to be very protective of your skin from sun damage. [9] Researchers gave participants the equivalent of 5 tablespoons of tomato paste per day and noticed 33% less damage from UV radiation, which is roughly the equivalent of SPF 1.3.CONCLUSION:

    Simply by eating a diet filled with antioxidants, my skin has improved dramatically.  I eat/drink spinach, one egg yolk, blueberries, red wine, brocolli, olive oil, green tea, black tea and carrots nearly every day and all have strong antioxidants that make their way to the epidermal tissues. In addition, a Low Fat, Low Glycemic Diet (such as the Ornish Diet) minimizes oxidative damage as well.


1) “Clinical Evidence for Lutein and Zeaxanthin in Skin Health, Part 1: Comparison of Placebo, Oral, Topical and Combined Oral/Topical Xanthophyll Treatments,” was conducted in Italy on female subjects, ages 25 to 50, over a 12-week period. The test product utilized in the study contained FloraGLO Lutein, manufactured by Kemin Health, L.C. It was administered daily at 10 mg (oral supplementation) and 50 ppm (topical formulation) to subjects in the study’s different test groups.

2) J of Amer College of Nutr, Feb 2001,20(1):71-80, “Skin Wrinkling: Can Food Make a Difference?”

3) The Sugar Fix, Richard J. Johnson, M.D., 1998.  p. 97.


7) Cell Metabolism, Aug 6 2009, 10(2):99-109, “Intestinal Cholecystokinin Controls Glucose Production through a Neuronal Network”, Grace W.C. Cheung, et. al.

8) J of Nutr, Sep 1998, Vol. 128(9):1442-1449, “Long-Term Fructose Consumption Accelerates Glycation and Several Age-Related Variables in Male Rats”, Boaz Levi and Moshe J. Werman

9) Brit J of Dermatology, Apr 2008, 158(4):885-886, “Lycopene protects against biomarkers of photodamage in human skin”: O17.


12) Self, Aug 2009, p. 82.

13) J of Dermatological Treatment, Jul 2004, 15: 222-226, “Supplementation with Evelle improves smoothness and elasticity in a double blind, placebo-controlled study with 62 women”

14) FASEB Journal, “Ellagic acid prevents ultraviolet radiation-induced chronic skin damage of skin cells and in the hairless mice”

15) J Nutr, Jun 2006, 136(6):1565-9, “Long-term ingestion of high flavanol cocoa provides photoprotection against UV-induced erythema and improves skin condition in women”

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