Although you might not want to judge a book by its cover, you can judge your internal health by the health of your skin. Good health -- and healthy skin -- often starts with diet. Eating a well-balanced diet rich in valuable nutrients can improve not only your physical well-being but also your physical appearance. In general, eating a mix of colorful fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains, will go a long way toward improving your nutrient intake.
For skin in particular, vitamin A is top of the list. Found in vegetables with beta carotene (the orange ones), vitamin A strengthens skin cells. Low-fat dairy products also pack a good vitamin A punch. However, health conditions such as thyroid disease may inhibit the body's ability to convert vitamin A for use. You should consult your doctor about any of these concerns [source: Science Daily].
Studies show that antioxidants, especially the group known as flavonoids, may enhance skin health by neutralizing free radicals that attack and break down skin cells. It's easy to remember which foods contain antioxidants because they are rich in color -- for example, berries, cherries, red grapes, oranges, lemons and limes. Vitamins C and E also defend against free radicals. Citrus fruits contain vitamin C, and certain oils, cereals, nuts and sunflower seeds provide vitamin E [source: International Food Information Council].
Essential fatty acids, found in salmon, walnuts, canola oil and flax seeds, promote healthy cell membranes that hold moisture inside skin cells. More moisture in the skin enhances the health and appearance of your skin. Nutrient-rich oils, such as olive oil and oils labeled cold pressed, expeller processed, or extra virgin, also contain essential fatty acids [source: WebMD].
Drinking an adequate amount of fluids -- especially water -- can enhance many aspects of your health. When you are thirsty, grab a glass of water instead of beverages high in sugar and caffeine. Water increases skin moisture and helps flush wastes and toxins from your body. And instead of coffee or black tea, you might consider drinking green tea. Green tea provides anti-inflammatory benefits and protects cell membranes [source: WebMD].
Other lifestyle remedies for dull skin include getting enough sleep and exercise. Again, the healthier you are overall, the healthier your skin will be and appear. Read on to learn other steps you can take to prevent and treat skin damage.