Healthy-looking skin starts from the inside out, experts say -- and it may have a lot to do with the food and nutrients you put into your body. Regularly cleansing, exfoliating and moisturizing helps you maintain healthy skin, you what you do outside the bathroom – eating, sleeping, smoking – can play an equally important role in getting a nice complexion. Luckily, wholesome foods that are good for your general health -- like omega-3-rich salmon -- are the same foods that are good for your skin.
First things first: There's no such thing as a miracle healthy-skin diet, says San Diego-based Kaiser Permanente dermatologist Jeffrey Benabio, MD, and simply eating salmon (or other oily fish, like tuna, mackerel, and herring) will not automatically give you beautiful skin.
"If you are just eating salmon but you're abusing your skin in other ways, you're not going to get results," he says. "But as a whole package, if you're conscious of what's good for you in terms of diet, sleep, exercise, and so forth, then yes -- the omega-3 fatty acids you find in oily fish, such as salmon, can be an essential ingredient for skin health." Skin is an organ, Benabio explains, and just like other organs (like the heart, brain, and lungs) skin benefits from a well-balanced diet full of antioxidants, minerals, and healthy fats.
Omega-3 fatty acids, specifically, have been shown to help reduce inflammation and signs of aging in the body. (A diet that's high in refined sugars, on the other hand, contributes to inflammation and therefore can also have an effect -- a negative one -- on the body's organs, including the skin.)
These "good fats" also help protect against and repair damage from the sun, and are responsible for the health and hydration of cell membranes, which are your skin's gatekeepers, keeping toxins out and helping skin retain its healthy, soft, and supple appearance. [Source: Bouchez] In fact, a 2005 study found that eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), one type of omega-3 found in salmon, helped block the release of collagen-eating enzymes that cause wrinkles and sagging skin. [Source: Kim et al.]
What if you don't like fish? Consider taking a fish oil supplement, which can provide a daily dose of omega-3s. Or buy flaxseeds or flaxseed oil, says Benabio -- rich in plant-based omega-3s -- and add it to your salads or smoothies.