Anti-Aging Foods that Are Good for Your Skin – You Are What You Eat

Last Reviewed on March 23, 2021 by Alice Pien, MD & Asher Milgrom, PhD

Are there foods that are good for your skin and have anti-aging effects? Remember... You are what you eat!

Are there foods that are good for your skin and have anti-aging effects? Remember… You are what you eat!

Is there a connection between diet and wrinkled skin? Are there anti-aging foods that are good for your skin?

Ever heard the saying: “Don’t ask a question if you are not prepared to hear the answer”?

The other side of that coin is: “Don’t illicit a question if you don’t have the answer”.

For the past 20 years, many of our patients have asked about their diets, “are there such a thing as anti-aging foods that will help keep my skin healthy?” What should they eat or avoid eating to keep from getting wrinkles, acne or Rosacea.  Believing that diet is critically important for the state of one’s health and wellness I have always wanted to enlighten our patients with clear and unambiguous answers. 

However, whereas many serious studies have been conducted regarding diet and a variety of serious health issues, such as heart disease and numerous other conditions, there is only one notable study concerning diet and skin wrinkling: the Monash study conducted at the University of Melbourne Australia.

Anti-Aging Foods that will Keep You Skin Healthy

There are countless sources for credible information regarding the most important factors of a healthy diet, so I won’t even try to address that here.  In general diets that are good for your overall health will also be good for your skin as well.  To be a bit more specific about adding supplements to your diet that are particularly good for skin, I will quickly summarize what I addressed in greater detail in a different article.

The three vitamins that are worth deliberately working into your diet for the sake of your skin are: 

  1. Vitamin C
  2. Alpha-Lipoic Acid
  3. Omega oils

Food for Smooth Skin

The Monash study, though far from conclusive did identify some correlations between diet and the wrinkling of skin.

Low-Glycemic Foods are Anti-Aging Foods

Low-Glycemic Foods are Anti-Aging Foods

In general, diets most associated with smooth skin are dominated by:

  • Low-glycemic food (foods that don’t cause a high rise in blood sugar)
  • High in varied fruits
  • High in legumes
  • High in nuts
  • High in vegetables
  • High in fish

Low-Glycemic Foods

  • Beans (white, black, pink,  soy, almond, peanut, kidney, lentil, walnut, chickpea)
  • Small seeds (sunflower, flax, poppy, pumpkin, sesame)
  • Most whole intact grains (spelt/kamut wheat, rye, millet, oat, rice, barley)
  • Tomatoes
  • Fructose
  • Most vegetables
  • Most sweet fruits (strawberries, peaches, mangos)
  • Mushrooms

Medium-Glycemic Foods

  • Whole wheat or enriched wheat
  • Pita bread
  • Basmati rice
  • Bannana
  • Unpeeled boiled potatoes
  • Juice
  • Pumpernickel bread
  • Cranberry juice
  • Regular ice cream
  • Raisons
  • Prunes
  • Sucrose

High-Glycemic Foods

  • Most white rice (only rice endosperm)
  • White bread (only wheat endosperm)
  • Maltodextrins
  • Cornflakes
  • Maltose
  • Potato
  • Pretzels
  • Bagels
  • Extruded breakfast cerals
  • Glucose


Food for Less Wrinkling

  • Olive oil and olives
  • Mono-unsaturated fat
  • Fish (especially fatty fish, such as salmon and sardines)
  • Water
  • Legumes, such as Lima beans, Broad beans etc.
  • Wholegrain cereals
  • Eggs
  • Leafy greens, spinach, eggplant, asparagus, celery, onions, leeks and garlic
  • Reduced fat milk products, yogurt etc.
  • Fruit and fruit products
  • Tea
  • Nuts
  • Zinc (foods which contain zinc include seafood, lean meat, milk and nuts).

Food that can Cause More Wrinkling

  • Saturated fat
  • Potatoes
  • Meat (especially fatty processed meats)
  • Cakes, pastries and desserts
  • Soft drinks
  • Full fat dairy products, butter etc.
  • Margarine

Food for Less Acne and Rosacea 

Of the tens of thousands of patients that we have treated over the past 15 years, far and away, the patients who are suffering from acne and cystic acne are the ones who have to pay the closest attention to their diet.  Not because they are not eating enough of the right food, but because they are eating too much of the wrong foods.

A handful of the many thousands of cystic acne patients we have treated over the years.

A handful of the many thousands of cystic acne patients we have treated over the years. 

First, let me reiterate that no one knows why anyone gets cystic acne.  While regular “white head” acne (Comedonal acne) is often associated with bacteria on the skin, better hygiene is often a sufficient treatment.  However, cystic acne is not due to bacterial infection.  It is due to over productive and over grown sebaceous glands that become cystic.  But why some people are prone to developing cystic acne and other not, is a mystery.

Nugget:  When I say mystery… I really mean it.  Here is the best clinical example I have.  Among are many thousands of patients who we have treated for cystic acne, are two identical twins teenagers.  One has it, the other does not.  They live in the same home, eat the same food, are students in the same classes, have the same parents, (neither of which had it!) and have identical genetics!  Yet only one of them has it.  Go figure.  The reason I am bringing this up, is to remind you that all of us are subject to the mysteries and miracles of life.  So in case you are beating yourself up about it, don’t.  It’s not your fault.

See my articles on Acne, Cystic Acne and Rosacea.

Food that Cause More Acne

To keep your skin acne free eliminate anything made from cow milk from your diet.

To keep your skin acne free eliminate anything made from cow milk from your diet.

What we do know is that if you have cystic acne, it might be exacerbated by three different food categories that you might be intolerant to. These foods have been found to be a direct cause of acne.

  1. The first offender is sugar.  White cane sugar that is found in so many refined food products, sweets, cakes, soda, and spooned into your coffee. Etc.
  2. The second offender is milk and milk products.  Anything made from cow milk, cheese, yogurt, cottage, cream etc.  Interestingly, goat and sheep milk is often well tolerated by people who cannot tolerate cow’s milk.
  3. The third offender is Gluten.  Anything that has gluten in it, such as wheat products etc.

In each case you can’t know if you are intolerant to that substance until you deliberately stop eating it for about 2-3 weeks, and see if your acne and cystic acne clears up.  Eliminate one group at a time, and see what happens. If your cystic acne improves, or even clears up, you are one of the lucky ones, as you will not need to undergo treatments.  Furthermore, if you caught it early enough, you are likely able to avoid getting pock mark scarring. See the article Home Remedies for Acne

In some cases, even Rosacea is improved when an offending category of foods that you are intolerant of are eliminated from your diet.

Anti-Aging Foods Can Keep Your Body and Skin Happy

One of the terrific benefits of going through this investigation of anti-aging foods and to reveal if you are intolerant to a particular food group, is the benefit to all your organ systems when you eliminate the offending items.   Remember, your skin is an organ.  If it is unhappy with a food you are intolerant of, the chances are that other organs aren’t thrilled with it either.  And if your skin reacts by developing cysts, the chances are that other organs are similarly unhappy and inflamed.   So… eliminating the offending items is likely to increase your overall health and well-being in dramatic ways.  Better sleep, better energy, better digestion, clearer mind (less “brain fog”), more alertness, less fatigue, and yes… much better skin.

Lastly, for the unlucky ones who do have cystic acne or Rosacea, don’t despair.  We have developed very effective comprehensive cystic acne treatments and rosacea treatments that can not only heal your skin of the lesions and cysts, but also engage your skin’s natural resources to remodel any acne scars that you might have, bringing your skin back to a smoother more beautiful, youthful and healthy condition from the inside out.

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