When it comes to battling acne or wrinkles, what you take out of your diet is as important as what you add in, says Val Treloar, M.D., an integrative dermatologist in Newton, Mass., and coauthor of The Clear Skin Diet (Cumberland House, 2007).
1. Eliminate dairy and ease up on carbs. Dairy consumption can spike insulin fast, leading to skin inflammation and pimple formation. Recent studies show teenagers who drink more milk have more acne. “I have patients who do nothing but eliminate dairy and their skin clears up,” Treloar says. Refined carbs have a similar inflaming effect.
2. Eat more orange, yellow and red. “Wrinkles are the result of chronic, accumulated oxidative injury to the skin,” Treloar says. Antioxidant-rich veggies like carrots, peppers, beets and pumpkins can counteract that stress. They also contain carotenoids, which settle into the skin, giving it a rosy glow and protecting it against ultraviolet damage. Studies show that people with higher skin concentrations of carotenoids have fewer wrinkles.
3. Eat fatty fish. It’s loaded with anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, which can fend off acne and age-related skin problems. Worried about mercury and other heavy metals? Try anchovies—they are low in toxins and high in omega-3s.