When it comes to showing off our health on the outside, the one thing we can really take pride in is a smooth, glowing, vibrant complexion.


Considering how many products are marketed for just this purpose, it’s a pretty common pursuit. Picking natural remedies and skincare products in place of quick fixes like chemical peels or Botox is a great step forward, yet the other key factor to that dreamy, dewy complexion is often overlooked.

What we eat has a lot to do with our skin’s appearance. After all, it is the body’s largest organ. When you think about it, the food we eat provides nutrients to our heart, liver, kidneys, brain and every other organ, so why wouldn’t it impact your skin? It is often evident in people with beautiful skin. If you ask them what products they use, they often attribute their flawless complexion to healthy dietary choices – less processed foods, less sugar, less inflammatory foods.

The paleo diet in particular is worth paying attention to when it comes to skin goals. People following a paleo inspired diet, which avoids processed foods, grains, legumes, sugar and dairy, often report improvements in skin condition, including lessening of skin inflammation. This is not surprising given that the paleo diet eliminates food groups that can be pro-inflammatory and allergenic for many people. The diet also focuses on nutrient dense foods – omega-3 rich meats and seafood, tons of fresh fruits and veggies, and healthy fats – to give you that glow the all-natural way. Let’s break it down a little further.

Omega-3 fatty acids

The paleo diet is inherently rich in omega-3 fatty acids from sources like wild-caught seafood including salmon and sardines. Omega-3’s are also found in plant proteins and fish oil, but the most easily absorbed by the body come from animal products. Omega-3’s are especially important if chronic inflammation impacts your skin, such is the case in individuals who suffer from eczema. The skin can more efficiently repair itself when it gets enough of the good stuff. For proper intake, aim to eat seafood three times per week or more.

fish-seafood

Collagen

The paleo diet started up the bone broth craze, probably for the first time since long before the Internet. You know, when traditional foods were just that – food! Our ancestors likely had soft and smooth skin if they were sipping on as much bone broth as we do now. While this isn’t a nutrient per se, it is a very easy way to supplement your diet for healthy skin. The obvious connection? Skin is made of collagen – a protein produced by our skin that helps keep it together. It is abundant in bone broth because boiling down bones (especially those containing lots of cartilage) releases this protein. It’s also found in avocado oil, rosehips and chocolate. An easy way to pack in collagen daily is by using grass-fed gelatin or adding some collagen powder to a glass of water or your green smoothie.

bone-broth

A, B & C Vitamins

While plant-based diets have their perks, they lack in a few areas, B-vitamins being one of them. The paleo diet is rich in these vitamins, especially if the diet includes lots of offal. You know, organ meats. Don’t be put off – eating liver isn’t so bad! Even if it’s not your favourite dish, it packs in some pretty undeniable benefits, especially for the skin. It provides sufficient sources of vitamin A and vitamins B3 and B5. The heavy emphasis in the paleo diet on eating loads of leafy greens and colourful veggies takes care of the rest, including vitamin C.

leafy-greens

Silica

This is one of the lesser-known superfoods for the skin that you’ll likely get plenty of by following a paleo diet. Apples, oranges, fish and seeds will deliver a healthy dose of the stuff, and your skin will be very pleased. Collagen (read above) relies pretty heavily on silica to work properly, so think of them as the dynamic duo of glowing skin. When we have enough silica, our bodies get to work producing more collagen, fighting wrinkles and improving the appearance of cellulite. Silica can also decrease acne as it contains powerful anti-inflammatory properties.

silica

Zinc

Beyond just acne and wrinkles, our skin is exposed to a whole lot of stuff. From toxins in the air and sun exposure to the occasional wound, we have to be aware of what it takes for our skin to heal and protect itself properly. This is where zinc comes in. Found in pecans, oysters and mushrooms, increasing your intake of these foods could help the skin to repair itself naturally and fight off harmful UV rays. Natural sunblock, anyone?

oysters

All in all, the paleo diet with a focus on real, whole, nutrient-dense foods delivers the body with what it needs to function properly. Ensuring a heavy veggie intake, fresh wild-caught seafood and a little offal here and there go a long way in feeding your skin and keeping you young. You don’t even have to ‘follow’ the paleo diet 100% – even a few small dietary changes can make a positive difference in your skin’s appearance. If you’d like to try a paleo inspired diet, check out this free 7-Day Eat Better Challenge.

Irena Macri

Real food blogger, wellness enthusiast and internationally published cookbook author, Irena is the creative force behind many things. She runs a 9-week nutrition and wellness program Happy Body Formula, shares her delicious recipes on her blog Eat Drink Paleo and creates meal plans and recipes for publications and magazines around the world.

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